Jennie Willoughby said she was “floored” by President Donald Trump’s suggestion that she fabricated accusations of domestic abuse against her ex-husband, former White House staff secretary Rob Porter.
In a powerful essay published Sunday in Time, Willoughby wrote about how hard it was to watch Trump praise Porter’s work and repeatedly remind the public that the former aide had proclaimed his innocence. Trump, along with other members of his administration, continued to defend Porter even after he resigned from his position last week following reports that he physically abused both of his ex-wives.
“I can’t say I was surprised. But when Donald Trump repeated twice that Rob declared his innocence, I was floored,” Willoughby wrote. “What was his intent in emphasizing that point? My friend turned to me and said, ‘The president of the United States just called you a liar.’”
Willoughby and Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, publicly accused Porter of abusing them emotionally, verbally and physically during their marriages. Porter has denied both allegations.
Trump tweeted on Saturday that “peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation.” He added: “There is no recovery for someone falsely accused ― life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as due process?”
“There it is again. The words ‘mere allegation’ and ‘falsely accused’ meant to imply that I am a liar. That Colbie Holderness is a liar,” Willoughby wrote. “That the work Rob was doing in the White House was of higher value than our mental, emotional or physical well-being. That his professional contributions are worth more than the truth. That abuse is something to be questioned and doubted.”
Willoughby wrote that her “strength and worth are not dependent on outside belief,” and that “the truth exists whether the president accepts it or not.”
She pointed out just how dangerous it is that our culture is so ready to question victims of abuse rather than simply believe them.
“Society as a whole doesn’t acknowledge the reality of abuse,” she wrote. “Ultimately, this is not a political issue. This is a societal issue, and the tone has just been reset by the White House. If the most powerful people in the nation do not believe my story of abuse in the face of overwhelming evidence, then what hope do others have of being heard?”
Willoughby ended her essay with a strong message: “For any men, women, or children currently in situations of abuse, please know: It is real. You are not crazy. You are not alone. I believe you.”
Head over to Time to read Willoughby’s full essay.