The Ways Trump Failed Survivors

Former People Magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff, in a piece for the publication, alleges Mr Trump pushed her against a wall and forced his tongue down her throat while she was at the Mar-a-Lago resort in 2005.The first few months have been nothing short of eventful for Trump and his new administration. More importantly for the people of this country. My hope that we can overcome has been sustained by all the incredible people joining together in unprecedented ways. People of privilege are having to deal with discrimination in ways they never have, just scratching the surface of understanding what people of color have been dealing with for ages

There are too many scandals to count at this point but as an advocate, I cannot help but continue to notice the complete and utter lack of consideration for survivors this administration as shown, from the figure of Trump himself to his policies and the people he has hired. 

As my roommate and I started seeing more and more states go red the night of the Presidential election I began feeling sick, how was this happening? And what did it mean for the country I live in? As we realized who our new President would be I collapsed into his arms crying. As pained as I was it became even more real as I walked into my office and my clients started coming. People who had survived the trauma of sexual abuse, dating violence and stalking had all new fears. What did it mean to live under a President that can boast about not using consent because he’s a “star”? An article from the BBC summarizes some of the sexual allegations against Trump, reminding us that accusations date back decades. (Ms Leeds, 74, from Manhattan, says Mr Trump groped her in the early 1980s, when she was sitting beside him in the first-class cabin of a flight to New York, Ms McGillivray, 36, from California, says Donald Trump grabbed her backside at his Mar-a-Lago resort 13 years ago,Yahoo News reported on a Facebook post by Ms Searles, who participated in the Miss USA pageant, which was owned by Mr Trump from 2002 to 2015, Ms Harth told The Guardian in July that, over the course of their acquaintance, Mr Trump leered at her, made inappropriate comments, groped her and eventually cornered her in a bedroom during a 1993 visit to Mar-a-Lago, Ms Taggart told the New York Times that as the 21-year-old Miss Utah in 1997, Mr Trump kissed her directly on the mouth without her consent....the list goes on).

  An article from The Telegraph pulled together the numerous sexist comments that Trump has used over the years from incestuous jokes about his daughter to reducing all women to being judged solely on their looks there are years worth of material from this man.  Just as a reminder here is the infamous quote from a 2005 recording: 

  “I just start kissing them, it’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

I had survivors telling me how their parents voted for Trump and now they could never feel safe telling them they were assaulted. If they voted for that man why would they believe her story now? I had other survivors wondering if their rapist was satisfied knowing he could live in a world that sexual violence was justified by the President. And others continued to ask me why it takes being assaulted for someone to care? Why aren’t more people pissed? Why was this statement he made not enough for his campaign to be over?

People across the world felt defeated. Social media was ablaze with conflict. Many sentiments echoed those of my clients

“Every sexual assault survivor just watched their worst nightmare come true,” 

“If you want to understand why rape culture is alive in the USA, it’s because Trump can admit to sexual assault & still get millions of votes.”

“As a sexual assault survivor, I'm afraid of Trump supporters & how they'll react to victory/defeat as he’s the poster child for rape culture”

And that was only the week following the election.

Since then there have been many signs from the administration that they lack any sense of empathy or understanding for sexual assault survivors. 

One example is the debate surrounding the Office of Civil Rights enforcement of Title IX. Title IX is a federal civil rights law that helps to protect survivors of sexual assault on college campuses.

The organization “Know Your IX” helps better explain what the law does, and you can check out their website here

  1. Title IX is a landmark federal civil right that prohibits sex discrimination in education.

  2. Title IX does not apply to female students only.

  3. Schools must be proactive in ensuring that your campus is free of sex discrimination.

  4. Schools must have an established procedure for handling complaints of sexual discrimination, harassment, or violence.

  5. Schools should ensure that a victim doesn’t have to share spaces, such as dorms, classes, and campus jobs, with his or her assailant.

  6. Schools may not retaliate against someone filing a complaint and must keep a complaint-victim safe from other retaliatory harassment or behavior.

  7. Schools can issue a no-contact directive under Title IX to prevent the accused student from approaching or interacting with you.

  8. In cases of sexual violence, schools are prohibited from encouraging or allowing mediation (rather than a formal hearing) of the complaint.

  9. Schools cannot discourage from continuing your education.

In recent years there was a push by advocates and survivors demanding that it be public knowledge which universities are under investigation

“With investigations kept secret, the public couldn’t understand the scale of the campus sexual assault problem or universities’ reluctance to address it directly, and students were left in the dark about investigations at their own schools. At Tufts University, for instance, individual student survivors had filed year after year the same complaints concerning mishandling of reports by the very same administrators — and had no idea the other student complainants existed, let alone that they were having the very same problems. At the University of Virginia, the Education Department had multiple investigations ongoing, but almost no one on campus knew, including the complainants.”

As of May 2014, this pressure had caused the number of sexual violence cases under review to climb from 55 to 244 at 242 different schools, 

“The Office of Civil Rights’ job is to enforce federal law so students can learn regardless of who they are or where they come from. And yes, part of that responsibility is investigating and cracking down on schools that violate the law — for example, those that refuse to investigate reports of sexual assault or provide key accommodations, like housing changes and mental health care, to survivors. Part of that responsibility is making clear to schools that the Office of Civil Rights means business so that administrators don’t think they can get away with violating students’ civil rights.”

The Trump administration has plans to push that knowledge back into hiding, losing all transparency that was one by protesters.

More recently, Candice Jackson, the head of the civil rights division at the department of education, the person in charge of assuring civil rights are enforced in our schools showed another example of complete disregard for the fate of survivors in our country. Commenting on sexual assault Jackson said that, “90 percent of accusations are the result of drunken and regretted sex, not rape”. First, if the stakes for her comment weren’t so high it would be laughable at how far off she is. Study after study shows that the number of false accusations in sexual assault cases are between 2-8 percent. Not only that but to bring alcohol into the conversation in this way further stigmatizes and victim blames those that feel ashamed because they were drinking the night they were raped.

How can anyone still wonder why survivors don’t just come forward, or feel unsafe, or are upset with our administration? We are being led by someone who has publicly admitted to harassment and the people who make up his team are continuing to spread false information and not support survivors.  

by: Carly Puch 

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Instagram: @a.feminist.lens