Trigger Warning: The following article describes sexual assault and rape and may be upsetting to some readers.
2020 has been the year of non-experts speaking out about topics and situations they’ve never experienced, nor studied, themselves.
But it’s also a year where more than 70 million people voted to place a man in office who’s been accused by more than 60 women of sexual assault and misconduct.
Sixty women have come forward, over the course of many decades, to shed light on someone’s predatory nature and narcissistic, egotistical, dangerous “personality traits,” only to be hushed, accused of lying, and traumatized again and again in the media and at the podium—by their accuser himself.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s that I know next to nothing about global pandemics or how diseases like COVID-19 spread, mutate, or eventually dissipate.
I know nothing about the fear Black and Brown people face when seeing the bright blue and red lights of a police car signaling them to pull over.
I’ve never experienced hatred, prejudice, or violence due to my skin color.
No one’s ever questioned my right to choose a partner nor love freely and openly—because my partner has been deemed appropriate by our culture.
But there’s one thing I do know, and I know it well: What it’s like to survive sexual assault, to live through violence, rape, molestation, and blatant disregard for my physical autonomy. To that a monumental and live-changing situation for me was but a fleeting, undefining moment in the lives of my perpetrators.
And in those moments, I understood that silence would be safer than speaking out.
That survival meant shaking off my trauma and moving forward—because I can’t let them win.
That even if I did choose to speak out, to be loud, to seek recourse, it wouldn’t matter. It rarely matters.
So though I have no clue what it’s like to face daily racism and violence due to my skin color or sexual orientation or religion, then watch those I love vote for someone whom also deems me less important, less human, less deserving.
I do know what it’s like to live in silence with fear and PTSD, then watch those who love me, respect me, and “believe me,” vote for someone who did the same thing to at least 60 other people’s…
Big Momma’s House was playing in the background when I was 17 and raped atop a large fleece blanket with a horse printed upon it. When that movie flashes on my TV, I’m immediately transported back to that room, to those feelings of utter paralysis and terror.
I struggle to make it through a night at home alone. I place bars in my doors and windows to keep people out. I lock myself in my bedroom with one dog on the inside and one dog on the outside hoping that if anyone were to come in, they’d alert me so I could fight back.
Close relationships are hard for me. Trust is a complicated concept in my life. Safety is something I’ve yet to feel.
So I can only imagine what it’s like for the survivors of Donald Trump to walk down their sidewalks and see hundreds of signs with their perpetrator’s name plastered on them.
I can only imagine the terror as they drive down the street and are greeted with oversized trucks hauling oversized Trump flags.
I can only imagine the nausea and anxiety that floods their systems when they hear his voice and see his face on the nightly news, in their morning podcast, on the front page of every newspaper and magazine at every store and gas station and bus stop.
And I can only imagine the sadness and loneliness that washes over them when someone they know and love says they support, they choose, they admire the very person who disrupted their life in such an intrusive, violent, horrifying way.
I know nothing of what so many marginalized communities in this country face on a daily basis.
But I know everything of what it’s like to watch a bad person, the worst type of person, continue to thrive after threatening your own sanity and shattering your delusion of safety.
So when you voted for Trump, when you placed his flag in your yard, when you wore his shirt and his hats and attended his rallies and made statements about his “character flaws,” you sent a message to survivors everywhere:
“We hear you, we see you, we just don’t care.”
This dark season in America’s history wasn’t political. It was an opportunity for Americans everywhere to say, “Enough is enough. Our little girls and little boys deserve a role model who believes in equality, in safety, in protection, in respect, and in kindness.”
And unfortunately, more than 70 million Americans chose someone who simply believes in money, in power, and in silencing women like me.
Like 1 out of every 4 American women.
Like the 500,000+ women raped in America annually.
Like the 60+ women who’ve risked their safety and reputation to speak out against Trump.
And when you say, “They’re lying. It’s political. We can’t believe them.”
Know a few things:
These accusations started far before Trump was in the political spotlight. They date back to the 70s—that’s five decades worth of sexual assault and misconduct.
For every 1,000 rapes, 384 are reported to police, 57 result in an arrest, 11 are referred for prosecution, 7 result in a felony conviction, and 6 result in incarceration.
Contrary to apparently popular belief, you do not get paid to take your accuser to court, your reputation does not improve, and your life does not get easier. Silence is safer than lying, always.
When you marked Trump’s name on your ballot and legally voted to place him the highest elected office in the world, you voted to continue the suppression and silence of women everywhere.
You made a clear and inarguable statement that you are not safe.
You chose to place money and power and politics above respect and justice and love.
My only hope for you is that 2021 becomes the year you actively choose to put in the work and become acquainted with the realities so many women, girls, boys, and men face daily. And begin to realize why your decision only added to the collective trauma and abuse.
Now remove your fucking Trump flags and take off your bright red hats; survivors everywhere deserve to breathe again.