Trump Tapes, More Than Words to Sexual Assault Victims

By, Molly McElwee

Rosie O'Donnell is a 'fat pig'. Megyn Kelly must have had 'blood coming out of her wherever' when she probed him on his derogatory references to women. Donald Trump's misogynistic rhetoric had become such a recurrent story this presidential cycle that the American electorate have long since been desensitized by it. There could be no other explanation for the tolerance of his actions, if not desensitization.

That was until last Friday, when The Washington Post unearthed Access Hollywood tape recordings dating back to 2005, exposing another, even more sordid level to Trump's seemingly unending disrespect for women.

In the tapes he is heard conversing with Billy Bush, of NBC's "Today", describing his conquest of women; 'I just start kissing them... I don't even wait.' He went on, saying, 'Grab them by the p****. You can do anything.'

Unsurprisingly, the reaction to the tapes has been uproar in the media, a suspension of Bush by NBC, Republican Trump endorsers falling at the wayside and a public apology from Trump himself, in which he called his comments 'locker room banter'. As his campaign continues to scramble to salvage the remaining crumb of credibility he has left, many commentators have been calling for him to pull out of the race altogether.

In the midst of the media circus focused on the welfare of Trump's campaign, the real issue with his open admittance of sexual assault seems to have been forgotten; the effect of his comments on sexual assault survivors themselves.

'We know that these kinds of conversations have triggering effects for survivors,' Director of Media & Strategic Communications for End Rape on Campus Colleen Daly said.

'It's very easy, and rightfully so, to be emotionally impacted by those kinds of statements.' Her observations are validated by the 33% increase in online hotline traffic reported by RAINN, the non-profit which runs the National Sexual Assault Helpline. Social media also saw a huge response, with the hashtag "notokay" retweeted over one million times since the release of the tapes, by survivors sharing their first experiences of sexual assault.

Daly noted the Brock Turner Case at Stanford University as having similar effects. Turner was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman behind a dumpster on campus, and the international attention garnered by his case highlighted the lack of convictions in instances of sexual violence. Daly said, 'Folks were outraged that Brock Turner was only given six months and then three months of prison time.'

'However he, according to statistics received more jail time than over 98% of rapists.'

Daly argues that exposing this context on the prevalence of the issue is exactly what we should be doing with Trump's comments. She said, 'We know that over 20% of college women are experiencing [sexual violence], and upwards of 30% of women over the course of their lifetime.'

'These forms of violence are not in any way shape or form unworthy of attention or worthy of being diminished to locker room banter.'

Furthermore she said, 'focusing on the needs of survivors and ensuring that their voices are heard... and that they're centred' in the media is of the utmost importance.

Since the debate on Sunday night in which he denied admitting to sexual assault, two women have spoken out accusing Trump of assaulting them on separate occasions. Trump's camp call the claims 'fiction'.