Congratulations to those of you who decided that this man who has been notorious for bullying those with disabilities, trash-talking people of other races and religions, and disrespecting women would be a better president than a woman. Now, anyone with a heart would recognize that he is wrong for our country but let’s take a look at something deeper. What does it say if our president already has many sexual assault charges against him before he enters office? During the infamous “bus” conversation with Billy Bush scandal, it was clear that he does not respect women or their right to have a say in what happens to their bodies. This is clearly evidenced by his pro-life views and comment stating that “you can do anything” to a woman and get away with it if you have some sort of high status.

I remember that week being a huge trigger for every single woman who has had an experience with sexual assault. I spoke to my adolescents at work and they were all terrified of the idea of Trump as president. How are they supposed to feel safe when their own President is not punished for sexual assault? How are they supposed to flourish in a world that is constantly shutting them up and telling them to “get over it”? We already have a system that favors the rapist over the victim. Cases like Brock Turner, Anita Hill, Jameis Winston, and those in the documentary Audrie and Daisy have exposed the horror that life becomes once the victim speaks out.

I urge you to take a second and try to imagine what life must be like for anyone, man or woman, who has been sexually assaulted must be like. Having to carry on with work or school because you don’t want to let them ruin your life but at the same time feeling broken, used, and worthless. Being told to “move on” when you are constantly bombarded with flashbacks of the incident and terrified that it might happen again. Not being able to sleep because of the nightmares and not being able to trust anyone. Try to imagine what that can do to a person. They literally become a shell with nothing left inside because society has told them it is not acceptable to talk about it so they have to become numb just to walk around without breaking down.

Make no mistake, the women I work with are strong. It was never their fault. The assault led them to turn to alternative methods to numb or forget the pain. They suffer from eating disorders as well as PTSD, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder. It’s heartbreaking that they would have to turn to these methods because being open about it just isn’t acceptable in our society.

You can see the pain in their eyes, the way they carry themselves, and the fear they describe when they talk about men and the possibly of dating in the future. You can feel their despair when you sit down with them when they are breaking down and have no idea how to get the horrible experience out of their minds. Needless to say, their lives can never be the same again.

Many people still defend this man stating that they are “just words” or seem to not classify this as sexual assault. I assume the ones defending him would be other white men who have never been victims of sexual assault or women who clearly cannot empathize with a woman who has been assaulted. These are the same individuals who hold the belief that women are objects instead of people and do not deserve the same amount of respect or rights because of their gender.

But I urge you to read stories of sexual assault victims. Try to see it from their point of view. Be grateful that you were lucky enough to never have to go through anything they do. Be kind to people who feel hurt and scared after this election because you never know what they have been through or are going through.

Yes, we do have to move on eventually but give people time to grieve and make sense of things. This is a decision that affects so many different people and although it may not affect you, it may affect someone you know. And if you care about that person, please let them voice their opinion just like our 1st amendment freely allows us to do. Recognize that there are going to be populations of people who are hurting from this and allow them to feel it.

In order to move on, we need to protect our rights as people. The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Even if something may not make you happy or fit your culture, religion, or personal views, you do not have the right to control others. Just let that person be who they are. Is it really affecting you? Do you really need to fixate on what someone else is doing with their life? Stop the hate. Hate will just break you down and hurt others. Focus on making yourself happy and making yourself a better person because that is how we will actually make this nation great.

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