Letter: The horrors of Trump
Sour grapes. Sore losers. These are the labels that are being used to describe those of us who didn’t vote for Donald Trump. Who didn’t vote for a bigot. Who didn’t vote for a sexual predator.
As someone who knows firsthand what it’s like to be violated by a family member as a child, I recognize the language. My abuser told me that the reason I was being hurt was because I asked for it. No one would believe me if told. He used his power to intimidate a 4-year-old child. And he got away with it. I learned that the only way to survive was to be still. Hide under the bed. Hide in the woods. Trust no one.
I came of age in the late 1960s and began to hope that women could be liberated. But daily life made it hard to believe. When I worked in restaurants the owners felt that their wait staff was their own harem. They touched you with impunity. If you wanted to work, you had to put up with it. When I worked in private homes as a cleaner, men often felt that this meant that you were fair game. I still knew that it was important to trust no one.
In the past few decades I have watched the rhetoric change. Laws have been enacted to protect women in the workplace. As a nation we have decried the treatment of women by cultures that we deem to be less enlightened. To the casual eye it seemed that progress was being made. But in my gut I still felt that it was not safe to trust.
This election has shown me that my intuition was right. We are still being hunted. As I listen to men rejoice in Trump’s win, I hear the same dismissive tone that I have heard all my life. It happened a long time ago. He says he has changed. But I’m not fooled. His election means that its open season on the weak and vulnerable. A clear message to men that they are entitled to take what they want without asking permission.
I am an old woman now and still I have not had the courage to name my abuser. I have spent my life running and hiding. Writing this letter is a risk. He could find me and hurt me as he always threatened to do. And who would stop him? He has been given permission. The most powerful man in the world does it. Why shouldn’t he?
I take this risk in the hope that it might give comfort to at least one other frightened and abused person. You are not alone. You are not crazy. The world did just become a much more dangerous place. Time to run and hide again.
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