Rivka Joseph

“And What Does Your Abuser Do?”

By now, everyone has heard about the leaked Trump tapes where he talks openly and graphically about sexual assault. To be more accurate, Donald Trump boasted about his ability to sexually assault married women because he is famous. And being politics, the whole world had an opinion on it. It varied from “He’s a rapist!” To “Is Bill Clinton any better?” And that of course was countered with, “but Bill isn’t running for office!” “Yes, but Hillary is an enabler” and so it goes, back and forth, as political discourses do.

Ever since the news broke about the tapes, I had been feeling extremely triggered and on edge. It was hard to put a finger on what it was exactly. I don’t usually get triggered by news stories and am very good at not reading or watching things that I know will upset me (self care rule #1). I was never a Trump loyalist, so it wasn’t a shock to me that he said this. But after listening carefully to the arguments my friends were having, I realized what was so upsetting to me.

“But Bill isn’t running for office!”

Yes, Trump is running for the most powerful office in the country, possibly the world. But that does not make his offense any worse than what every other sexual predator does. What Bill Clinton did to Monica Lewinsky is legally considered rape. She could not say no to a man with that much power and control over her life. Her story does not have any less value now that Bill Clinton isn’t the president anymore.

What my brother did to me does not hurt any less because he is not running for President of the United States.

What every single survivor went through and is going through matters regardless of who their abuser is, because it is about the victim and the pain and damage caused to their life.

Sexual abuse hurts, it doesn’t hurt more if it the president did it or the janitor did it. And when we imply that it does, we are telling some survivors that their pain doesn’t matter. We are telling other survivors that only their abusers matter. And that could not be farther from the truth.

So please, stand up and tell us your story whenever you feel ready. We are always listening.

About the Author
Rivka is a victim advocate in Cleveland, OH. She holds a BA in Criminology from Kent State University and is pursuing her Masters in Social Work currently.
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