We all heard Donald Trump brag about committing sexual assault. It was shocking to hear, and upsetting to nearly everyone. Trump wants us to believe that it was locker room banter: just men talking the way men talk! In other words, it was harmless. But Donald Trump is wrong. The words he spoke were not harmless at all.
Trump’s words bite. They are vicious and degrading to all women and violate all notions of decency in a civil society. But for many people, Trump’s bite is more than just a bite. His words carry a poisonous venom which seeps into the bloodstream and becomes life threatening.
Whether Donald Trump turned sex abuse into a punch line or into a boast, his words tear at the heart of anyone who has been raped or touched or groped or even gawked at sexually or violated in any way without consent. Trump trampled on consent. He normalized abuse. That is salt in the survivor’s wounds and it burns.
Trump’s words inflict the kind of pain that survivors of abuse are accustomed to feeling in a society that includes boors and brutes like Donald Trump. We know that not every space can be a safe space, and we can live in a mostly good world even with a few monsters.
Here’s what we cannot live with: Our friends, family, teachers, mentors, leaders, and community members standing behind this bully. Trump didn’t merely boast about assault and then offer a pallid, halfhearted non-apology. He said he’s sorry. Then he said we should really be focusing on ISIS and Bill Clinton and jobs. This communicates to anyone who was hurt by his words that if they care about this at all, they are overreacting. They should really be worrying about ISIS.
We can’t live in a world that is less than completely and totally sickened by Trump’s words. When you choose Trump, you are not choosing Trump over Hillary Clinton. You are choosing Trump over your friends and family who are survivors of sex abuse.
Abuse happens because good people are silent, or because there are no good people who will listen to the abused. It happens because men can joke about forcing themselves onto women without consent and then run for president. Billy Bush, the other man in the lewd conversation with Trump, was deemed unfit to host morning television. Yet, somehow, Trump is still in the running to become the leader of the free world and civil society.
Survivors of abuse know that there are monsters in the world. Abuse hurts. But for many survivors, the real pain is the isolation of having nowhere to turn for help, not believing society cares, witnessing abusers receiving honors and plaudits, and the ever-present thought that our world will always choose the charismatic bully over the broken victim. Abuse breaks so much inside a person. Supporting and cheering a predator like Trump breaks those same places again.
A vote for Trump affirms the survivor’s most basic fears. Your vote for Trump says that sexual assault is not a big deal. It says that joking about abuse is okay. It’s another way of saying that you prefer the predator over the victim.
Know that this is what you’re saying to survivors of abuse and others with your support for Donald Trump. You are choosing the violent perpetrator over the victim. It creates a world that is impossible for a survivor of sex abuse to accept. It is a world that no good person should be willing to accept.
I know it’s Erev Yom Kippur. This is THAT important to me. https://t.co/EliyghwkI6
— Eliyahu Fink (@efink) October 11, 2016