In any election year, potential candidates are always highly scrutinized and there is always a chance the long-forgotten skeletons may pop out of the closet. That is exactly what happened on Friday, October 7th, 2016, when video footage of Donald Trump was released, causing a media uproar and widespread discussion about rape and sexual assault.
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While on set taping a piece for Access Hollywood, Trump was caught on camera talking to Billy Bush. He can be heard bragging that he spent a large amount of time trying to get a married woman to sleep with him and saying that women just let him grab them by the private parts because “when you are a star, they just let you do it.” He even noted that if he thought a woman was beautiful, he would just grab her and kiss her without waiting for permission.
Despite his public apology the next day, dozens of Republicans who previously supported him have announced a change of heart, including the speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan. Ryan immediately spoke out saying “I am sickened by what I heard today.” He’s not alone.
Although Trump and his supporters have dismissed his comments as “locker room banter”, hundreds have called this deplorable.
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Udonis Haslem of the Miami Heat is just one of dozens of pro athletes who have spoken out against the comments. “I don’t know what locker room he’s been in.” Haslem stated, “That’s not our locker room talk.” Others have pointed out, correctly, that was Trump is describing is, in fact, sexual assault.
Thousands of women have taken to social media, describing their experiences with sexual assault and groping by men who simply thought they had the right to touch a woman without permission. Their voices are crying out, demanding change.
This isn’t the first time that Trump’s name has been mentioned in connection with sexual assault. In 1997, a woman filed a lawsuit against him, alleging that during the course of their business together, he had repeatedly pushed her against a wall, tried to forcibly kiss her, and groped her. All of this occurred eight years before Trump described how he treats women.
During a deposition, one of Trump’s ex-wives gave a detailed report on how he raped her, and earlier this year, an anonymous 13-year-old filed a lawsuit stating that he raped her.
Rape culture refers to a society in which rape and sexual assault are normalized. This is a phrase that has been brought up time and time again as the victims describe how they were treated when they decided to report their attack.
Victim shaming, where the victim is asked questions about what they might have done differently to prevent an attack is common. This is contrary to other crimes, where the victim is typically believed, and no one questions if they did what they should have to stop the crime from being committed.
It is this very culture that has led victims in the past, both male and female, to feel like it isn’t safe to report their attack.
Thankfully, as more victims and supporters speak out, this culture is shifting in the U.S. Numerous programs exist to help survivors and more perpetrators are being held accountable for their actions.
Yes, absolutely. Victims do not need to worry that their identity will be released to the public. For example, the while the victim in the Brock Turner rape case was able to speak out and share the letter she wrote to him during the trial, she was never named. It is still possible to make your voice heard.