Content warning: This article contains descriptions of sexual assault
On November 8, 2016, I sat in my high school dorm room obsessively refreshing a WMUR page on my laptop. With each state that Donald Trump won, my stomach clenched tighter. The thought of a man with numerous rape allegations becoming president was enough to make me physically sick. My closest friends told me they couldn't imagine what I was feeling.
I am a survivor of sexual assault.
When I was 11 years old, a stranger took a piece of me away, and I can never get that back. I would never wish that experience on anyone, but I want you to imagine what it feels like to be tossed back into old trauma every time I think about the president.
Rape is about power, not sex. People like Donald Trump get off on being in positions of power. Rapists view women as objects, rather than people. So does Donald Trump. Donald Trump, the man millions of Americans voted for, is quoted as saying:
"I'll go backstage before a show and everyone's getting dressed and ready and everything else... You know they're standing there with no clothes. And you see these incredible-looking women. And so I sort of get away with things like that."
Women's bodies are not objects for men to exploit at their pleasure.
Trump's words clearly objectify women. They display no regard for emotional or physical trauma.
I never knew the men that raped me. I couldn't see them. I don't remember their faces, how tall they were, or how much they weighed. The thing I most distinctly remember is the feeling of one man's hands. I remember the strength with which he pinned my hips to the ground and the size of his hands in comparison to my small, 11-year-old body.
Every time I hear President Trump speak or see him on television, I feel phantom hands squeezing my hips, sometimes to the point I have to check to see that the bruises have faded in order to convince myself it isn't still happening. I cannot think of Donald Trump without thinking of his history with sexual violence allegations, and that's neither normal nor acceptable.
My heart hurts for the girls sitting at home wondering if their rapist will become president, too.
I was that girl.
Has sexual assault become so normalized in America that people are willing to overlook not one, not two, but at least 26 allegations when casting their vote? Voting for a man with numerous rape or sexual assault allegations, who has been recorded bragging about touching women when they didn't want it, and whose lawyer has said you can't rape your spouse, is degrading and humiliating to survivors of sexual assault.
A vote for Trump says to me, a sexual assault survivor, that money and political power outweigh and invalidate my experience. This is an experience that I have struggled to overcome, one that negatively impacts my life every day.
How can I heal when I am forced to relive my trauma every time I see the president?
I'm not writing this to tell you who to vote for. Both candidates in the upcoming election make my stomach turn. I want you to think. Try to place yourself in a position or experience different from your own, and imagine the emotional implications of America's current political narrative.
It's not pretty, is it?