Reliving Abuse

Since the tapes of Donald Trump's comments on women were released, followed by reports from various victims, women have been recalling and reacting to their own experiences of sexual assault. Most of us never reported the improper touching, whispered propositioning, and inappropriate innuendo and acts in the work place and in our daily life.

We now find ourselves reliving the trauma of the incidents, our reluctance to report those events, or when we reported them, watching as nothing was done. I certainly thought that if I wanted to function at a level in government that usually was held by a man, I must be stronger and learn how to handle unwanted attention from men. I even foolishly thought that since I was married, no one would bother me. Wrong!

For some men, just saying no was sufficient. For others, their persistence could have warranted a sexual harassment law suit today. I agonized over what to do. I discussed the incidents with my husband. I worried that some how my natural friendliness was being interpreted as something other than what it was. As a result, I became more and more "professional" and more conscious of how I dressed.

All these things were going through my head as I drove to Estes Park last Friday night for a Hillary Clinton organizing event. At the home of my friend who was hosting the meeting, I talked to individuals and small groups prior to my presentation. Inevitably the conversation turned to the comments of Mr. Trump. Each woman had a story of how she was sexually approached at some point in her career. Some reported the incidents to their immediate supervisors; others did their best to separate themselves from their tormentors on their own. All of them felt as if they are in some sense reliving their trauma.

None of us would say that we were struggling with PTSD because somehow we had moved on in our lives. We still recall each incident though. And none of us would be talking about this now if not for Mr. Trump's efforts to blame the victims.

In my family, the message I received from my parents was to study hard and be admired for your intelligence. But I quickly learned that there were boys who were more interested in how you looked. Maybe that is Donald Trump's issue. He is still a 14-year-old boy who never has learned to have regard for girls or women. And his appeal to his supporters is that he furthers their own childhood dreams of the place for women.

Whatever the cause, and the pundits have many ideas on this, here is what we women have a consensus on. We not only intend to be treated as smart, capable human beings, we intend for our children and grandchildren to have the same. It is enough of a reason to vote for Hillary Clinton and make sure all our friends and family do the same.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline or 1-800-656-HOPE for the National Sexual Assault Hotline.