On Friday, the Washington Post released a leaked tape featuring a 2005 conversation between Donald Trump and TV host Billy Bush that featured Trump making a series of disturbing comments about sexual assault.
“I did try and fuck her,” Trump says in the recording about a failed attempt to seduce a married woman. “She was married. And I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said, ‘I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.’ I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.” Trump goes on to say, “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
In the days since the tape’s release, many Americans have expressed disgust at the recording, and rightly so. Women across the country have stepped forward with stories of their own experiences of sexual assault to remind the American people—and Trump himself—that the behaviors he bragged about in his so-called “locker room talk” are real, and millions of women have experienced them firsthand.
One such brave survivor is Amber Tamblyn. The author and actress took to Instagram on Sunday, just hours before the second presidential debate was to air, to share a personal story. Alongside an image of Trump kissing the cheek of a beauty pageant winner, Tamblyn revisited a tough memory.
“A very long time ago I ended a long emotionally and physically abusive relationship with a man I had been with for some time,” she began. “One night I was at a show with a couple girlfriends in Hollywood, listening to a DJ we all loved.” Tamblyn explained that her ex showed up at the same venue that night. “He’s a big guy, taller than me,” she continued. “The minute he saw me, he picked me up with one hand by my hair and with his other hand, he grabbed me under my skirt by my vagina—my pussy?—and lifted me up off the floor, literally, and carried me, like something he owned, like a piece of trash, out of the club. His fingers were practically inside of me, his other hand wrapped tightly around my hair.”
Tamblyn revealed that her ex carried her all the way across the room that way, while her friends ran after him, trying to stop him. When they got to the front door of the venue, her ex’s brothers, who were also there that night, intervened. “In the scuffle he grabbed at my clothes, trying to hold onto me, screaming at me, and inadvertently ripped off my grandmother’s necklace, which I was wearing,” she wrote.
Tamblyn shared that she eventually made her way home safely that night, but that she had sustained injuries—both physical and emotional. “That part of my body, which the current Presidential Nominee of the United States Donald Trump recently described as something he’d like to grab a woman by, was bruised from my ex-boyfriend’s violence for at least the next week. I had a hard time wearing jeans. I couldn’t sleep without a pillow between my legs to create space.”
At the end of the post, she expressed what a tough decision it was to share her story, but that she felt it was important to do so. “To this day I remember that moment,” she wrote. “I remember the shame. I am afraid my mom will read this post. I’m even more afraid that my father could ever know this story. That it would break his heart. I couldn’t take that. But you understand, don’t you? I needed to tell a story. Enjoy the debates tonight.”
What Tamblyn experienced—and what Trump so heartily advocated in that 2005 tape—is sexual assault. While most people think of forced intercourse when they hear that phrase, the definition of assault is wider than that. The CDC defines sexual assault as “sexual activity when consent is not obtained or not given freely.” That includes things like violently grabbing a woman by her private parts and dragging her across a public venue like Tamblyn’s ex did, or, in the case of Trump’s statements, making sexual advances on women who have not given consent.
According to the CDC, nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men have reported experiencing rape at some time in their lives, and that’s excluding the untold number of cases that go unreported each year. Another 13 percent of women reported experiencing sexual coercion at some point in their lives, and others still are subjected to other forms of nonconsensual sexual activity. These assaults can create lasting physical and emotional damage. Research has found that survivors of sexual assault are more likely to develop depression and substance abuse issues, as well as other health issues like heart disease and high cholesterol.
When Tamblyn and other survivors share the truth about what they’ve been through, it doesn’t just communicate to Trump and other Americans that assault is unacceptable. It also serves as a stark and important reminder to all survivors that they are not alone, and that what happened to them was not their fault. Count it as another step closer to a world where predatory behaviors like those Trump described in that 2005 tape are no longer such a pervasive reality. Props to Tamblyn for sharing her truth. Take a look at her full post below.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, call the RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.
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