POLITICS

The Man You Say Assaulted You Will Be President. Here's What That’s Like.

“I worry that this will give license to other men to act that way.”

16/11/2016 4:30 PM IST | Updated 16/11/2016 4:30 PM IST
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WASHINGTON ― More than a dozen women have accused President-elect Donald Trump of sexual misconduct, ranging from forcible kissing to assault. Many Americans who did not support Trump’s candidacy have grappled with shock since his election. But for these women, his win is also deeply personal.

“I’ve gone out with my girlfriends and had a pinch or a grab here and there, and I’d turn around and they were gone. But I turned around and it was Trump,” said Mindy McGillivray, who claims that Trump groped her at his Palm Beach estate, Mar-a-Lago, when she was 23.

McGillivray told The Huffington Post that in her eyes, Trump is a “habitual offender,” one whose behavior could affect his presidency. “I hope it doesn’t, because this is who we’re stuck with, and in my heart, I want to forgive and move on,” she said.

McGillivray said she didn’t feel comfortable with either candidate, but ultimately voted for Hillary Clinton. She doesn’t want to attack people who supported Trump, noting that, “they have their reasons.” But she pointed out that when she’s spoken with people, including Trump supporters, they’re “shocked when I say, ‘Hey, I’m one of those girls’” that he allegedly groped.

The prospect of a Trump presidency has shaken people in numerous communities, including immigrants, LGBT citizens, people of color and women who have experienced abuse or assault. Trump has repeatedly denigrated women using terms like “dogs” and “fat pigs.” As former co-owner of the Miss Universe organization, he bragged about getting away with walking into women’s dressing rooms. And after video surfaced of Trump boasting about groping women, a wave of accusers came forward to say that he had done it to them.

“He told us many times who he was,” said Jessica Drake, an adult film actress who alleges that Trump kissed her without consent and attempted to offer her money after she declined an invitation to accompany him to dinner and a party.

“I am disappointed that we as a country did not listen,” she added, in a statement sent by her attorney’s office.

“I worry that this will give license to other men to act that way,” said Cathy Heller, who alleges that about 20 years ago, Trump held her in place and kissed her on the lips after she tried to move away.

A Clinton supporter, Heller told HuffPost she was at a party on election night, and left after it became apparent that “things weren’t going well.” She said she finds it “shocking” that so many women voted for him. (Fifty-three percent of white women did, according to exit polls.) “There are probably 100 women out there who have stories like mine” or others, she said. But, “he denied it, and it didn’t seem to matter to people.”

“I’m hoping for the best, I really am,” Jill Harth, a makeup artist, who claims that Trump groped her in his daughter’s bedroom almost 20 years ago, told the Guardian. But she’s afraid he will leave many in the United States “as roadkill.”

Trump has denied all of the sexual misconduct allegations lodged against him, and threatened to sue his accusers. The Trump campaign did not respond to comment for this story.

“After he called me a liar I was threatened, bullied and saw my business targeted,” said Summer Zervos, a former “Apprentice” contestant who alleges Trump groped her during a meeting about a job opportunity. In a statement sent by her attorney’s office, she added, “Even though it is hard and painful to go up against the world’s most powerful man, I will continue to speak truth and I refuse to be intimidated into silence.”

Multiple women who have spoken out about Trump echoed that sentiment ― that they refused to be intimidated by his election or what his policies could mean more broadly.

Rachel Crooks, who said Trump kissed her on the mouth after shaking her hand when she was 22, knew she would be nervous on election night, so she avoided the TV and went out to dinner. But a friend texted her with the results later. “It was a rough night after that,” she said.

“I’m very concerned for our country in general,” Crooks added. “How he has behaved with women is certainly one part of it.”

Crooks said she’s glad she spoke out, and noted she read an article that women with similar experiences have felt they can open up to their families and loved ones. “When it happened to me, it was almost like I felt embarrassed, like somehow I had caused it myself,” she said. “That’s the wrong mentality.”

The “whole thing” is shocking, Heller said. “But I’m not going to spend the next four years crying or afraid.”  

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