This morning, Donald Trump tweeted:
“I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!”
Putting aside the fact that we can all agree that sexual assault in any form—rape, attempted rape, or fondling—is inherently bad, Donald Trump has done here what men throughout American history have done: minimized the female experience of sexual violence. He has blamed the victim. Why didn’t she come forward? Why didn’t she report it?
I’ll tell you why.
Women and girls who survive a sexual assault have many reasons for not coming forward, one of which is the fear of backlash, which Donald Trump himself has just provided a prime example of in his tweet.
Women are also subject to intimidation following a sexual assault, especially considering that 72% of women were acquainted with or in an intimate relationship with the man who assaulted them. They knew the perpetrator. That means he would be around after the assault, perhaps in the same classes, at the same job, or even in the same house.
I know of this first hand, and it is the reason why I lock my gate.
I spent four and a half years in a verbally, physically, and sexually abusive relationship. The reasons for why I stayed are many, and include the facts that I was young, I had nowhere else to go, and I was scared to leave—he was a police officer and former marine; he had guns and he was very possessive.
But I tried to report a rape once.
I told him, after he assaulted me, that I was going to call 911. He stood between me and the phone—all six-feet-four-inches of him—and put his hand on the police-issue utility belt that hung on a coat rack beside the phone. It held his Glock.
He said, “Go ahead. Bill’s on duty. He already knows you’re crazy.”
So, Mr. Trump, it wasn’t that the assault wasn’t that “bad”—it was. It was that I had to go through a big man, a Glock, and a 911 system that would have been answered by a friend of the man who assaulted me. And we lived together, I had nowhere else to go, so the assaults continued. I was afraid that if I reported him, he would have killed me.
I am still afraid, twenty-four years later. That is why I lock my gate. My fence is tall—six feet, but the lock makes it secure. It is a regular padlock, attached to the inside latch. No one can open my gate when I am home. I am safe.
Which is good, because he is now a chief of police three hours away, a member of Donald Trump’s darling “Law Enforcement Authorities.”
Yes, you read that right: a chief of police. He is in charge of investigating cases of domestic violence and sexual assault.
God help the women in his town. I hope they lock their gates.