By Christine Suhan
When I was growing up, the President of The United States was an untouchable idol. To be President was a role people aspired to, a role of distinction, honor, intelligence and utmost respect. But then again, when I was growing up, Ronald Reagan was in office.
The politics in our country have been laughable for decades, but with the current election coming up, the state of our country has crossed the line into absolutely terrifying. This article is not backed by any political agenda, I’m neither a Hillary nor a Trump fan, but as a sexual abuse survivor and a woman living in this country, I wanted to share how the audio of Trump’s “locker room banter” affected me.
I was a 19-year-old virgin when a boy “grabbed me by the pussy” while I was asleep and I woke up to him forcefully inside of me. I use the word boy intentionally; you see, grown men don’t rape women. Grown men don’t disrespect women by their actions or their words. And because of that boy’s actions I have been forever changed.
The trauma of what happened to me still haunts me 13 years later. Our bodies and minds have a remarkable capacity to heal, but although I’ve worked really hard at healing my PTSD and all the other lingering effects of the rape, I still have scars. Those scars have woven themselves into every fiber of my being and though I hide them well, they begin to pulsate whenever I hear words like those said by our presidential candidate Donald Trump.
To him it may be just “locker room banter,” “guy talk” or any other absurd excuse, but to me, a rape survivor, those words are the knives that puncture a wound that nearly took my life from me.
What he calls “harmless,” my body and brain remember as threatening. The words that flow so effortlessly off his tongue don’t just roll off my skin, they become weapons against which my body must shield. My body unknowing shifts into fight/flight mode and is on high alert. The words that took his lips just seconds to form will take my body days to recover from.
I remember waking up the morning after my rape, staring at the blood on my sheets and feeling like I was an object that had just been shattered across the bedroom floor. I no longer felt like a dignified human being, I felt like broken, used goods. My body, now like an abandoned house that had been trespassed and left in flames. That boy’s actions 13 years ago destroyed me and the fact that immature boys, who parade around as grown a** men like our presidential candidate, joke about an act that literally devalues a human life is unacceptable.
During the presidential debate Trump apologized for his words. He said, “I’m not proud of it but this is locker room talk. When we have a world where we have ISIS chopping off heads…[he continues to elaborate on the ‘medieval state’ of our world]…I’m not proud of it but it was just locker room talk.” His apology to me, a rape survivor, was nearly as bad as the remarks he made in the first place. Comparing his self-proclaimed “locker room talk” to the beheadings that are happening overseas was a rude attempt at minimizing the impact those words have on other people. He was essentially conveying the message that while people are losing their lives in the Mideast, we Americans are ridiculous for reacting with such strong emotion to his words. I understand perfectly well that my rape does not compare to someone losing their head at the hands of ISIS, but both are demonstrations of lives being devalued. The fact that he doesn’t see how impactful his words and actions are to the women of our country is offensive, to say the least.
Can we all take a moment and really think about who we are electing to run our country. Our leader, our President, is supposed to be someone of character, someone with dignity, integrity and poise. I can’t imagine raising my children in a world where the President of the United States devalues the lives of half of our country, yet somehow, here we are. This country was founded on moral principles and has crumbled into a land that I don’t feel safe to walk around in. A land where I can’t send my children to school without fear that their innocent minds are being tainted by rape culture, misogyny, racism and hate.
We have to do better, America.
We simply must do better.
About the Author: Christine Suhan is a wife, stay at home mother to three wild toddler boys and writer/creator at www.feelingsandfaith.net. She has a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy and enjoys helping people through openly and honestly sharing her journey of life, recovery, mental illness, marriage, parenting and more. You can also find her on her Facebook page.