I am a twenty-one-year-old woman and a senior in the College; last July a man whose name I don’t know raped me; last night this country knowingly elected a serial predator. I’ve known fear like this only once.
The aftermath of an assault is perhaps one of the most difficult emotional states to imagine yourself into...but empathy exists for a reason. Empathy requires total obliteration of the self. Empathy requires remembering your own worst pain, and then going beyond that pain. Empathy requires sacrifice. When I say, It feels like he peeled my skin off, blistering me raw, and then said, Go into the world now and pray no one notices, empathy demands that you validate this. Empathy demands that you don’t tell me how afraid you are of all that I’m feeling, because I promise you, I’m more afraid. Empathy demands that you be kind. Empathy demands that you say, I will walk this with you. Empathy demands that you make like Death Cab for Cutie: I will follow you into the dark.
Trump being elected to the presidency is a national failure of empathy—for women, for sexual assault survivors, for people of color, for immigrants, for the LGBTQIA community, for disabled persons. It is a national disregard for compassion for the vulnerable. All of the women who came forward were disregarded and devalued...and so why would any woman ever come forward again? What will she gain? What won’t he lose? We are in crisis. Every morning these past eight years we’ve woken up without terror under the Obama administration. Note: this was a privilege. It was taken away from us. I’ve known fear like this only once.
If there’s beauty in recovery, I haven’t yet found it.
If there’s beauty in a Trump presidency, I haven’t yet found that either.