New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D) revealed this week that she was molested as a child, and that memories of that time were triggered by hearing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s 2005 comments about using his fame to get away with kissing and groping women without their consent.
“I just couldn’t stay silent,” she said at a press conference on Thursday.
She said she had never spoken publicly about the abuse, which took place when she was between the ages of 5 and 8 at the hands of two individuals. She felt that now was the time to come forward, even though it is “very, very uncomfortable” to discuss, because she has a responsibility to raise visibility of the issue, she said at the press conference.
“When you have an individual who is boasting about violating and taking from a woman something without her consent, I just couldn’t anymore,” she said, referring to the 2005 video of Trump. “And to have someone laughing and goading it and enabling it is just ― it was very painful for me and it triggered things that I hadn’t felt in a long time.”
Trump’s 2005 comments were published on Friday, and he said at a presidential debate two days later that he had never kissed or groped women without their consent. On Thursday, Trump insisted that the recent allegations were part of a conspiracy led by the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and the media.
“They’re pure fiction and they’re outright lies,” Trump said of the reports during a rally on Thursday.
Mark-Viverito supports Clinton and has criticized Trump in the past for his remarks on immigrants. The latest news about his treatment of women makes her question his supporters, she said at the press conference.
“I would feel uncomfortable having anyone around me that could support that candidate because in essence you are condoning that type of behavior where you think it’s OK to violate a woman because of the power you have,” Mark-Viverito said.
“There is some diminishment in his support and I think that’s just going to continue to grow, and I hope so,” Mark-Viverito said. “I would hope so.”
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.