”Without these women, he noted, “there would not be the critical national reckoning under way.” - Eric Schneiderman (D), New York State Attorney General
Earlier tonight, an article titled, “Four Women Accuse New York's Attorney General of Physical Abuse”, published on The New Yorker's website. It detailed the stories of women who were involved in abusive relationships with Eric Schneiderman, New York's AG.
Three hours after its publication, Eric Schneiderman had resigned.
Two of the four women, Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam, were brave enough to go on the record in the hopes that their stories would protect other women.
Their accounts were frightening, like when Schneiderman smacked Barish open-handed across her face causing her ear to ring. The altercation escalated to where he was on top of Barish choking her. Or, the time he started calling Selvaratnam, who was born in Sri Lanka and has dark skin, his 'brown slave' and demanding she repeat that she was 'his property.'
I won't re-write every story of his abuse, but I urge you to read the accounts here.
Every time a public figure is outed for abuse, Twitter explodes with #metoo and #timesup. These social media movements have brought attention to domestic violence and sexual abuse which have for too long been a topic swept under the rug. It's allowed women to speak out against their abusers while simultaneously giving other women the strength they need to do the same.
The 2017-2018 political year has been a doozy. Al Franken, Roy Moore, Stan Rosenburg, and a slew of other politicians along with White House Staff have resigned or were forced out due to allegations over domestic violence, sexual abuse, and misconduct.
But this latest abuser is arguably the worst one yet.
Eric Schneiderman set himself as the de facto head of the #metoo movement. He made life-threatening strangulation a major crime and filed a lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein. All while demeaning, berating and beating the women in his personal life.
This man used the momentum that Survivors had created by speaking out, to garner political notoriety. He worked his way through the cesspool of New York politics ultimately holding the highest law enforcement position in the state.
Not only did this make him politically powerful, but it made the women he abused feel there was nothing they could do. It didn’t matter if they reported him, the case would never go anywhere. He told one of the women, “I am the law.”
Friends of a victim urged her to keep quiet, that they couldn’t afford to lose such a powerful and popular Democrat.
This is unacceptable. Victims should never be silent because of what it might do to the perpetrator regardless of their occupation, political party or social status. This is why it takes so long for survivors to come forward, the victim blaming needs to stop.
These women didn’t ask to be assaulted. They didn’t ask to be threatened, and they didn’t ask for the public spectacle their lives are quickly becoming.
What these women did ask however, is that their stories protect future women from falling into his traps. They shared their stories so others can have the courage to share theirs.
The #metoo movement isn’t over, it’s just been reclaimed by its proper owners - strong survivors who speak out against oppression.