What a Trump Presidency Will Mean to Victims

victim

Even in my sheltered upbringing, I encountered manipulative, verbally abusive men.

There was that thirty-something-year-old guy who sent an email to nineteen-year-old me, describing his self-claimed position of a prophet sent to spy on denominationally-affiliated churches  — and, oh, p.s., I’m looking for a godly wife. Here is my sales pitch. Let me know if you’re interested in courting me.

When I replied, “I’ve got a boyfriend, and look, you’re violating every single thing ever written in Scripture about church authority,” he got offended — not because I took him to task on his prophetic calling, but because I dared to assume he wanted to court me! He never asked me to court him! And seriously, I wouldn’t email him back ever again? That’s just rude, ungracious, and extreme. Please, please email me back.

I felt horrible ignoring him, as my dad strongly, strongly encouraged me to do. I felt like the woman he accused me of being — oversensitive, ungracious, rude. I felt like the abuser.

And frankly, I was just flat-out confused. He did ask me to court him. It’s there, in the email, in plain English. (But I must have read into it. I must have. How can he deny it? Why would he deny it? It doesn’t make any sense. I must have completely misunderstood him. Why else do I feel so guilty if I’m as innocent as my parents and friends and conscience tell me?)

That was my first experience with a manipulator, who later went on to publicly accuse my family and church leaders of the most absurd and petty things.

I now have words for these things: Gaslighting. Manipulation. Narcissism.

I’ve since then experienced more gaslighting, manipulation, and verbal abuse from other men, along with that subsequent feeling of equal parts rage and confused guilt. I know how it feels to panic, to physically and mentally shut down, at the very thought of coming into contact with those men. I know the temptation of viewing every man, even the man I love, as a potential abuser, because I’m scared of being chewed up and spat out again with no defense.

And as far as abuse and manipulation goes, I haven’t even experienced the worst of things. That “one out of four girls are sexually abused” stat — it’s real and informally verifiable even in my Christian homeschool circles.

Donald Trump? He fits the bill of an abusive manipulator. He makes outrageous claims (like bragging about sexually assaulting women) and then makes outrageous denials (“Nobody respects women more than me”). He talks openly of his privilege (like strolling through a crowd of naked pageant competitors unannounced). He rarely apologizes, and when he does, he shifts blame on those who were offended and diverts to other, “more important” topics. He lashes out at everyone who corrects him. He degrades disabled reporters, Muslims, Mexicans, war heroes, and women, especially those who challenge him. He namecalls, throws tantrums, and finds fault with everybody except himself. He makes off-color exploitative comments about bedding troubled women and minors. He threatens his opponent with jail and looms behind her during debates (when he’s not interrupting and contradicting her every other word).

And that’s not even mentioning the credible allegations of rape and sexual assault.

The reason many women are upset that Donald Trump is running on the “pro-family” ticket?

He reminds us of our abusers and manipulators — especially the ones who got away with their abuse because other women, other authorities, and other Christians defended them.

He rips open old wounds where documented abuse and speaking out made no difference in preventing the abuser from abusing again or seeking justice for the victim.

The controversy surrounding his latest comments reminds us of the times we got angry at abuse and were silenced and mocked by the people of God.

The controversy reminds us that some of the same people tweeting and posting against Trump were silent about, even antagonistic toward, our own stories of abuse and manipulation.

He and his many controversies are public reminders that people will readily believe and support the abuser over the abused, that there’s a whole bunch of goodhearted, churchgoing, Jesus-loving people out there ready to disbelieve and disparage you when you come out with your story.

That’s what a Trump presidency will mean — that’s what his candidacy already means — to the many, many victims of verbal, emotional, and sexual abuse both inside and out of the church.

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10 thoughts on “What a Trump Presidency Will Mean to Victims

  1. Meaghan

    I found your blog yesterday and read through and it’s brought me such joy! You’ve put into words so much of what I’ve been struggling with, both with my faith and with other things. I’ve been struggling to make my parents see why Trump is so frightening, and this is one lens I hadn’t thought of yet but that’s so so true.

    I was wondering if you had any book recommendations for getting started reading up on a feminist and/or egalitarian theology. Thanks!

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    • Bailey Steger

      Hi Meaghan! I’m so glad to find another person with similar experiences. Nice to meet you! :)

      You know, I didn’t actually read BOOKS on egalitarianism. I read websites, mostly CBEinternational and the Junia Project, and dialogued with real egalitarians via the Biblical Christian Egalitarians public Facebook page. That’s all I can recommend as far as reading material. Sorry!!

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  2. Rebekah

    Ugh. Well, ugh is not the right word. At one point, I thought I might be able to suck it up and vote for Trump, though I was never excited about it. But after his horrible, abuse-supporting comments have come out, I can’t do it. It’s the first presidential election I get to vote in, and I pretty much hate the idea of either major candidate winning…God help us all!

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  3. Erin

    And Hillary is not frightening? If Trump is not elected, she will be. That scares me even more. This is not just about protecting the feelings of the victims. This is also about protecting the long-term welfare of our country. Hillary will appoint Supreme Court justices who will affect America long after she leaves office. She has sworn to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which will allow federally funded abortion. She has also sworn to attack the Second Amendment and will likely attack religious freedom and free speech as well. She wants to further the current economic situation that forces jobs overseas. She wants loose borders that allow illegal immigration. Overall, she does not have America’s best interests in mind. The woman is terribly deceitful and she’s not going to change once she reaches the Oval Office. And you mention the victims. It’s heartbreaking, I agree. But Hillary is just as guilty of ruining lives in other ways. Monica Lewinsky’s life has not been good. Chris Stevens was not available for comment and neither were all of the aborted babies. Hillary has contrived to ruin the lives of many of her husband’s ‘other women’ as well. I think both candidates have left a large trail of victims in their wake.
    Trump is certainly not a saint, but he has surrounded himself with wise people. He supports legal immigration, secure borders, and a strong military. He wants to bring jobs back to the US instead of forcing companies overseas with bad economic policy. He’s in favor of the Second Amendment and wants to build America up by adhering to the Constitution. Like I said, he’s not a saint, but really. Romans 3:23.

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    • Bailey Steger

      I really don’t want this thread to derail into an argument of the pros and cons of a Trump or Clinton presidency. I have said elsewhere, and I’ll say it again, that I respect the choice for voting for Trump. This is a tough situation, with different but drastic consequences for either potential presidency. I personally am less afraid of a Clinton presidency than a Trump presidency, but I totally see why others think the opposite.

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