Congratulations on becoming the most fascinating person in the world. And I mean it– you truly fascinate me. This letter is my parting gift to you, to tell you how much your presidency means to me. It frames your regime through the lens of a sexual assault survivor. We are everywhere, one of countless groups that have been insulted, mocked and forgotten by your administration. These groups include people of color, queer people, transgender people, immigrants and disabled people. The list goes on.
Knowing how deeply you care about your fellow American citizens, let me tell you a little about myself. My name is Sam. I am a 26-year-old film producer. My biggest hero is my late grandmother, Henrietta, who I spoke with every day until she was too weak to hold her telephone. My grandmother was very proud of her Jewish heritage and, therefore, so am I. Her most poignant stories were about watching the Holocaust unfold as a Jewish woman. And her most important takeaway from that experience was to implore me to engage with the political system and expect more from my leaders. I will honor my Grandmother for all of my days.
I was in high school the first time I was sexually assaulted. A family friend brought me to the mall to distract me from the darkness in my home where my mother was battling cancer (she survived). My friend was an angel for bringing me to someplace bright and bustling and I did feel some relief. We had a great time with shopping, girl talk, soft pretzels and massages. We stopped at a kiosk in the middle of the mall, staffed by friendly men who were eager to provide their masseur services. We put down our bags and laid on our bellies. I was face-down with my eyes closed when the masseuse molested me. This happened in front of everyone walking by, yet no one saw. My eyes snapped open and I nearly vomited, but I couldn’t move a muscle. So, maybe it’s my fault for not telling him “No,” right?
When the massage ended, we sat up, my friend paid for the service and we said “Thank you.” I couldn’t look my attacker in the eyes. I did not tell my chaperone what had happened and as we rejoined the crowds of shoppers, she turned to me with a smile and said, “That was a nice massage, wasn’t it?” I smiled back at her and agreed. So, maybe it’s my fault for not telling someone.
The years that followed would have been the natural time for me to start dating, but any time I was about to share an intimate moment with someone, I would freeze up and escape the situation. I could not bear to be touched by anyone, ever, for any reason. My pain manifested as isolation and refusal to connect with people in a romantic capacity. This lasted into my twenties and, over the years, I was ridiculed for abstaining from sex and dating. I felt like part of my identity had been stolen. I missed out on a healthy, thrilling part of growing up. The lasting effects are nightmares, body dysphoria, and debilitating mental illness.
After the incident in the mall, I was sexually abused three times by three different people. I maintain a deep fear of physical contact. I did not experience the quiet joy of being held by another person until I was 22. Even now, dating or talking to men at all takes extraordinary mental stamina. Sometimes I imagine myself being scared forever.
This doesn’t cover the countless instances of sexism and harassment I have endured over the years. Every woman knows what I am talking about. These moments range from microaggressions to inappropriate touching by a male boss. Most recently (last year) a fellow bargoer, with whom I was enjoying a beer, repeatedly shoved his fingers in my mouth despite my obvious discomfort. This made everyone uneasy, but no one told him to stop. In fact, when I later gave him the cold-shoulder, my “friend” told me that I was being a bitch.
Perhaps the scariest moment of my life was in 2016, when I was pinned down on the hood of a car and assaulted (This abuser is now a police officer). Twelve days later, you – a known predator and rapist – were elected. This reinforced the grim reality for women everywhere, that we are not granted agency over our bodies. Or we are, until we’re not. Until it’s subjective. For me, your regime was a four-year long nightmare, like watching all of my abusers occupy the Oval Office.
Sexual misconduct is just a faint speck on your rap sheet– and if I cited every one of your transgressions, this would be a 100-page essay. Your reprehensible behavior has been in our faces for five years and we all have easy access to the facts. And yet, 46.9% of American voters have decided that they do not care about the facts. So no, I will not waste my time trying to help these people see and acknowledge what is true. It is not my responsibility to educate, nor engage in discourse with, your supporters.
It is my responsibility to heal myself, to protect my future and the future that I want for my children. It is my responsibility to be a strong ally for marginalized and brutalized citizens of this country, most notably people of color.
So, what does your presidency mean to me? It means that dangerous people everywhere are emboldened and immune to consequences. They have infiltrated our political and justice systems. Many of them are disguised as the very people meant to protect us. We are not safe. That’s what it means to me.
I would like to thank my abusers, including you and your followers, for inspiring me to become the strongest, most resilient version of myself. Your evil launched my initiation into activism. I am a full woman, and I belong to a generation that is about to inherit this nation and this Earth. It is my strong belief that we are a generation of smart, kind leaders. We are survivors and our work is just beginning.
Personally, I will spend the near future learning how to be a better ally. While my anger has its place, it is not productive. My goal is to leave that anger in this letter and walk away from it. Instead, I will immerse myself in the allyship resources available to me online and in books.
Thanks again, T***p! You should probably pray for mercy.