Do you remember the night of the Election when you felt gut punched? We didn’t know it then, but we had been attacked.
Sure, we knew Donald Trump was a despicable bully. But even as our nation – the vast majority of our nation, given that Hillary Clinton won by three million votes – was processing the devastating news, it turns out it was much worse than the fact that our country had betrayed us.
Our country was forced to do so on bended knee, at the hands of Russia’s prolific fake news campaign across social media. We unknowingly had our hands behind our heads, our bodies sunk prone to the ground under the boot of Russia’s cyber attack.
I remember being in a similar position previously, the day my ex-husband tried to kill me. He punched and punched me, holding our eight-month-old baby in his other arm. I did not fight back, for fear he’d kill her. And when he counted down the seconds, I made my escape, intent on saving us.
So I understand President Obama’s fears. He did not want to make matters worse. He did not want to provoke Russia into attacking the United States further. He was worried about Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric sparking civil unrest. Trump’s warped and twisted lies became a factor. After all, Trump was claiming the Election was rigged in favor of Hillary Clinton. Obama gave in to the bullies to save America.
And just like that, America became Trump’s abused wife, and Putin his right hook.
Our country needs to gather insight – and Intel – from women who have survived domestic violence. We have a valuable contribution to make to our nation’s safety. Increasingly authorities are beginning to understand how perpetrators of domestic violence are tied to terrorism and gun violence on a larger scale. But it’s more than that.
We survivors have an intuitive grasp of the abuser’s psyche. We’ve often monitored his every facial tick, inflection, the trajectory of his thought process. Something that might sound innocuous to the average listener – we would know was a mortal threat.
And we had our reasons for staying and keeping relatively quiet – our children, our family, our community, our finances…and some, even when they attempt to leave or fight back, don’t make it out alive. It can be overwhelmingly difficult to face the dangers that start to reveal themselves.
I was one of the lucky ones. I left, went on the run while he was out on bail. Except I stayed in the ultra-religious community too long, which despite being lovely in so many ways, proved far too corrupt and abusive, as well. And even now that I made it out from that, too, I continue to pay a deep price.
In the case of Russia’s interference in our 2016 Election, President Obama took action, but largely, he stayed the course. He likely never imagined how horrible it would be for America under Trump’s reign – he didn’t think it would come to pass.
I’ve learned we can’t stay still, or pretend it will get better. No matter how much we think we have to lose – we have to get out from under a tyrant.
President Trump has verbally attacked every Constitutional stronghold in this country – the independent Judicial system, the independent Intelligence agencies, the free press…on and on.
Yet, he has not one bad word to say about Putin, America’s arch enemy. Knowing that he’s received the Intel, his failure to condemn Putin is in itself collusion. Moreover, he has a pattern, a tell. Whenever he verbally assaults someone, he’s lying about them and telling the truth about his own crimes. Trump knew what Putin was doing for him – which is why he claimed the opposite.
This is a very sad time for our country. It feels like justice is not turning fast enough. We know that the Russians are already preparing to hit us harder in 2018. And we experience on a daily basis the onslaught of Trump’s bold-faced lies and torment that are destroying civility in our country. The abuse he’s inflicted has already left its mark on our children, more than we even know.
This is not about our past, it’s about our future. When I found the courage to leave, it’s because I realized how profoundly important it was for me to have tranquility in my life.
We Americans are going to have to search our souls. In order for us to have safety and peace, we need to unite in a common endeavor to preserve our nation’s autonomy and democratic principles. The Jewish people must do the same to protect the most vulnerable among us.
We as a country must depose Trump and begin the long journey of moving on from the trauma we’ve suffered. Freedom is hard work and best not made to wait.
If you suspect you are experiencing personal domestic abuse or assault, there is help – and hope: