Political News

Trump's 'grab 'em' comment unleashes national conversation

Posted October 11

— On Facebook and Twitter, on the phone and on the job, from living rooms to hair salons, Donald Trump's "Grab 'em by the p----" comment has unleashed a tsunami of stories from women sharing painful memories of sexual assaults.

Many of these women were grabbed by the genitals — exactly as Trump described doing — by men who fled or melted into a crowd. Some women were molested as children on a playground or school bus. Others were groped on a train or dance floor. They've told of attacks getting out of taxicabs, harassment in the workplace and rapes on college campuses. Many shared their experiences for the first time in the days since the video of Trump's comments aired, while others have been exorcising their demons for a long time on blogs or in therapy.

Whatever the forum, whatever their experience, one thing is for sure: A presidential candidate's boastful description of manhandling women's bodies has become a national conversation about sexual assault. Thousands of women have stood up to say, publicly and firsthand, "This happened to me!"

Jennifer McGraw, 35, of Cleveland, wrote a blog post Sunday about being molested as a child called "My Disposable Body" that began with these words: "It all started with a grab of the p----."

McGraw, who is also a rape survivor, said social media conversations about sex assaults "have blown up" because Trump's comments about groping made speaking out more urgent than ever.

"This is somebody who could be our president," she told The Associated Press. "I can't not talk about it at this point. There's too much at stake. I feel strong enough at this point in my life to share my story and share my truth. That's the only way people will heal."

From presidential candidate Gary Hart's sexual relationship with Donna Rice in the 1980s and Bill Clinton's affairs a decade later to Anthony Weiner's more recent sexting scandal, the sex lives of politicians have been in headlines. But never before has a U.S. candidate for president made comments boasting of sexually accosting women, characterized by Trump as "locker room talk." When asked by CNN's Anderson Cooper during Sunday's debate if he'd sexually assaulted women, Trump said he had not.

The national conversation about sexual assault is "a powerful thing," said Delilah Rumburg, CEO of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

"We saw this in the last year with campus sexual assaults when many young women started coming forward and speaking their truths. This is a way for them to feel like they have some power back when they can tell those stories, to hold not only those who commit these crimes accountable but the systems as well. I know those survivors' voices can do much more than I ever could as an advocate."

A survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found that 44 percent of U.S. women have experienced sexual violence victimization other than rape at some point in their lives, and nearly one in five has been raped.

Edith Bluhm, 48, of Nashville, Tennessee, says her friends' Facebook threads have been filled with harrowing stories of everything from date-rape to child molestation.

"I have had the experience of going into a crowd and someone has their hand inside my shirt," she said. "Or you're on a dance floor and some guy is grinding against you. Or I'm on a train and felt a hand up my skirt. It's not just about rape. There's all these things that women have endured, these violations of our bodies, that Trump says you can get away with.

"Somehow it's dismissed because it's fleeting," Bluhm added. "It's a hand and then it's gone. ...If I say, angrily, 'Some guy over there was just rubbing up against me, you might say, 'Oh gross,' and move on. But later why do I feel like I want to crawl out of my skin? ...It's completely wrong."

Alicia McCauley, 30, blogged about her experiences with sexual assault, from being grabbed between the legs as a child to being raped. Just recently, a New York City cab driver pinned and groped her as she got out of his taxi. She filed a complaint against him and discovered four other women had filed similar reports against the same driver.

"Hearing Trump say you can do anything you want, you can grab them by the p----- — I hate using the word 'triggering' but it felt very reminiscent of all the traumas I have experienced," she said. McCauley said she told relatives that "if they voted for Trump, I would see it as personal, saying it's OK to do these things to women. They are agreeing with rape culture and agreeing with male entitlement."

McCauley said "the stories have always been there," but they're "pouring out now" because the outrage over Trump's comments "has created a space where people are finally agreeing with assault survivors."

Kimberly McDermott, 42, of Alexandria, Virginia, shared stories on Facebook and Twitter of being groped at a concert and sexually harassed by teachers and a boss. "I had no idea other friends had gone through so many similar experiences and had also been too embarrassed to speak up," McDermott said. "That was the case in almost every instance, and these were smart, outspoken women. We cannot go back to this behavior!"

Trump's comments also prompted Alexa McGriff, 28, to post about her experiences as a rape victim and how "triggering" Trump's comments are. "I think about the person who raped me when I was in college," she said in an interview. "I can just picture him saying similar things." Her attacker was an athlete, which gave him celebrity status on campus that McGriff compared to Trump's. "He could do whatever he wanted and get away with it," she said.

At the same time, McGriff noted that Trump's comments have ironically provided a platform that "empowers women to stand up and speak out."

Writer Kelly Oxford unleashed thousands of sex assault stories from women over the weekend by asking women to tweet her their assaults: "they aren't just stats. I'll go first: Old man on city bus grabs my 'p-----' and smiles at me, I'm 12." Many responses were posted with the hashtag #NotOkay.

Among those who tweeted stories back to Oxford were friends of Spring Weaver, 33. "I felt really sad for my friends who were being triggered by the statements of a presidential candidate," said Weaver, who also recounted sitting in a hair salon in Chicago on Saturday where the sole topic of conversation among every stylist and customer was Trump's comments.

Then, Sunday night, watching the debate, Weaver said, "I found myself crying, tearing up. I was just so upset that there were no repercussions for him."


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  • Sam Nada Oct 12, 9:05 a.m.
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    Try reading what I quoted. There were a couple of people's comments in that thread, some of which were yours.

  • Sam Nada Oct 12, 9:02 a.m.
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    You have a link to that quote? Pretty sure she said "half" of Trump's supporters, not "all Republican women".

  • Marilyn Loftin Oct 12, 4:38 a.m.
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    Hillary called all republican women deplorable. I think that is a lot worse than Trumps 10 year old locker room tape.

  • Pete Muller Oct 11, 11:23 p.m.
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    Mr. Brown. What truth do you want people to see? Bill Clinton is not running for president. You should know this by now. And are you implying one should vote for the sniffling train wreck with the lowest truth rating of all 2016 presidential candidates?

  • Amy Whaley Oct 11, 11:14 p.m.
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    Wow Sam, don't know exactly what you were responding to, however, it couldn't have been my post. It reads more like mumbo jumbo seeing I didn't say what you addressed.

  • Sam Nada Oct 11, 11:14 p.m.
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    So it's lying that bothers you? And you think Trump is the more truthful candidate? Seriously? You actually believe that? The FBI Director James Comey, a Republican, testified before a Congressional committee that they had no basis to conclude she lied to the FBI.


    All of the fact checking agencies have consistently rated Clinton as the most truthful of all the candidates from both parties beginning with the primaries. Trump is rated the least truthful. He is also being sued by gov agencies for defrauding students with his fake university, Lying by another name.

    On that tape Trump confessed to sexual assault. Do you think he was lying or telling the truth? Is he a liar or a sexual predator? In a sworn deposition Ivanka accused him of violent sexual assault. A lawsuit for child rape is pending. We'll see how that turns out.

  • Lance Boyle Oct 11, 11:00 p.m.
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    Trump and his gambling. Are those real businesses or just places to separate f00ls from their money while providing protitutes to help sooth the pain.

  • Buster Brown Oct 11, 10:42 p.m.
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    It is amazing to me how people can take unproven allegations as truth. Trump has never been convicted of any improper conduct--except by thr liberal socialist media. Clinton on the other hand impeached by Congress for perjury in the Lewinsky case. The Director of the FBI Stated flatly that Hillary lied. Now how much more evidence do you need for God's sake to see the truth?

  • Samuel Tyler Oct 11, 10:38 p.m.
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    Trumps words will NEVER be as bad as Hillary's actions. Wiki leaks just released a slew of emails where she discussed classified information with big bankers regarding Osama Bin Laden's death. Weeks after emails were hacked concerning Iranian scientist Shahram Amiri, he is murdered by his own government.

  • Sam Nada Oct 11, 10:31 p.m.
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    It's a bizarre and perverse twisting of the reaction to Trump's comments to accuse his critics of portraying women as victims.

    Why aren't you as critical of Trump's well documented adulterous affairs, the many reports by women who say they were sexually assaulted by him, the accusation of rape by one of his ex-wives, and the fact he's being sued for child rape? Regarding hypocrisy, apparently consensual sex by Bill Clinton was grounds for impeachment, but non-consensual assault bragged about by Trump is irrelevant and should simply be excused.

    Some fantasy of even the possibility of sexual assault, which hasn't happened in 100's of cites with bathroom laws, was enough to justify HB2, but the blatant admission and bragging about predatory sexual assault by a Presidential candidate is of no concern. The position of Trump supporters is incomprehensible and inexcusable.