Bullies and their victims

By Caitlin Kelly


It’s been quite a week for those of us who live in the United States and who watched the second Presidential debate on Sunday night.

Like many of my friends, male and female, gay and straight, I slept very badly that night and have been exhausted ever since.

The thought of Donald Trump with access to nuclear codes?

One of the elements of the debate that horrified so many women I know was Trump’s persistent moving around the small stage throughout, his scowling and his bizarre need to stay physically very close to Hillary Clinton throughout 90 minutes.

Defenders said he simply wanted to make sure he was always in the line of the camera’s gaze, even when she was speaking.

Asked about it later, she gamely laughed and admitted she felt his presence.

If you’ve ever been physically and/or emotionally bullied by a man who is relentless in his determination to scare the shit out of you, it leaves scars.

Most of us are physically smaller and less muscular than men, so they know they can “get away with it.”

Most of us are heavily socialized to make nice and stay calm, to laugh off, dismiss or ignore the appalling things some men say and do to us, at school, at work, on public transportation, in a bar or restaurant.

Very few of us have the appetite to lash back, fearful of physical harm, even death, if we retaliate with the full strength of the rage and disgust we really feel.

From The New York Times:

to many victims of sexual assault, Mr. Trump’s words struck a particular nerve. It was not simply that he is the Republican presidential nominee, and that a hot microphone had captured him speaking unguardedly. It was his casual tone, the manner in which he and the television personality Billy Bush appeared to be speaking a common language, many women said, that gave Mr. Trump’s boasts a special resonance.

What he said and how he said it seemed to say as much about the broader environment toward women — an environment that had kept many of these women silent for so long — as they did about the candidate. And Mr. Trump’s dismissal of his actions as “locker room talk” only underscored the point.

It creates a kind of PTSD that is very real — like many women, I was shaking with rage throughout his attacks.

My social media contacts blew up with women furious and terrified.

Canadian author Kelly Oxford asked women on Twitter to share stories of their own experiences.

From Vogue:

Less than half an hour later, Oxford tweeted: “I am currently receiving 2 sex assault stories per second. Anyone denying rape culture, please look at my timeline now.”

Like millions of other women, no matter our age or income level or education or where we live, I’ve been bullied emotionally and threatened physically by men.


I don’t want a President of the United States who uses every tactic imaginable — economic, emotional, physical, legal — to punish and humiliate others.


Especially women.



22 thoughts on “Bullies and their victims

  1. Pingback: [BLOG] Some Tuesday links | A Bit More Detail

  2. What makes it even worse than it already is is that he’s trying to pass it off as a distraction,and then, like a parent waving keys at a baby in order to distract it, talk about Bill Clinton’s alleged sexual assaults. It’s not the same thing! Even if Bill Clinton did do something, there’s absolutely no way to verify it beyond accusations, whereas Trump is basically admitting that he has raped and assaulted women. It’d be like after the Robert Durst recording, the old man came out and said, “Yeah, I said that, but one of the British Royal Family might have been Jack the Ripper! There are all sorts of people accusing him of doing it!’ Yeah, but there’s little, if anything, to prove it beyond accusations.

    1. Oh, and his racism and his discrimination against blacks who tried to rent in Trump buildings here in NYC.

      Oh and the many, many small businesses he strong-armed into accepting lower-than-agreed payments for contracted work, like he did to a friend of ours.

      He has zero conscience.

      1. The scariest thing of all, though, is his supporters. Ever since he announced his candidacy, there’s formed a cult of people around him, and they will excuse anything he’s done or said, no matter how heinous.
        As a WWII-focused historian, I see similarities not just between Trump and Hitler, but between Trump supporters and those who got Hitler to power. Yes, some were very prejudiced, but others were alienated by the Weimar democratic system and the people elected to represent them, saw a country that was debasing itself, and that didn’t stand for the ideals it used to or lacking the strength it should have. And those who say that Trump would be calmer and more “presidential” by now or once in office sound a lot like the conservative leaders and thinkers who thought Hitler would be easy to control or was just a lot of bluster.
        Honestly, it’s so much like Weimar Germany right now, I’m surprised that there’s not a trending #Repeat33 going around the Internet.
        And what’s worse, many Trump supporters believe that if Trump loses, the election is rigged (because it can’t possibly be democracy doing it’s job!), and a few think that violent revolution is called for if he loses. If enough people do form together in an attempt to overthrow the government, what will happen then? We’ve already had putsches in the forms of militiamen taking government property from the government in the name of freedom. And I have no doubt Trump would love a group of people fanatically devoted to him.

      2. Yes, to all of this — and thanks for such an insightful comment. 🙂

        One of my favorite (!) reads of December 2014 when I was in Paris at a friend’s apartment was a terrific history of the Weimar Republic by an American historian I found on their bookshelf. I learned a lot, and I can see many of the parallels you describe.

        The fantasy that Hitler could be controlled or managed was chilling in its final expression of terror.

      3. And unless I’m remembering things incorrectly, Hitler didn’t win in 1933 outright. His Nazi Party just won enough seats in the assembly that the other conservative parties had to figure out how to appease them in order to form a voting caucus, which is how Hitler got the chancellorship.
        Thank goodness our political system doesn’t work like that. It’d be a disaster! It might still be a disaster, but I’m hoping the current numbers on FiveThirtyEight are predictors of things to come.

    1. It’s a very frightening time right now.

      I have a lot of compassion for people who cannot find (well paid) jobs. It’s a tough time for me, too! But the race hatred and other ugliness he incites is appalling.

  3. The fact that Mr. Trump was allowed to hover around Mrs. Clinton was repugnant to me. I am afraid for this country if he is chosen to be our leader. A Presidential figure he is not. I am a sexual assault survivor from childhood on up and just watching him on television makes me shudder, because of his recent taped remarks. But I am not surprised those words came out of his mouth. They go along with how he presents himself. Why a person with his character traits is allowed to last this long in the run for President of the United States in the first place is a mystery to me. We have become too tolerant. Mrs. Clinton could have been allowed to ask Mr. Trump to back off. I would have cheered for that.

    1. So sorry to read this about your past — and I am hearing this from so many women I know, and others I don’t…His appalling behavior toward women reflects the horrible experience so many of us have endured.

      I wish she had said something to him, but her ability to stay calm and to ignore him was a such a powerful move. His joy is in rattling and upsetting women; when a woman shows he can’t, it removes that power. I admire her for that.

      I don’t think he will win now that there is such an avalanche of stories coming out about his piggish behavior. So many voters are appalled that he could become Commander in Chief…with that “character”?!

  4. I’m awaiting November 8th with trepidation, as I imagine you are too. This year has made me so cynical about politics and the people in power, as I watch the Brexit disaster unfold, the lack of meaningful action on the Syrian refugee crisis and the Russian bombing of Syria, and the presidential campaign going on across the pond.

    Is there nobody with principles in power? I’ve even read that Trudeau is reversing on his environmental promises, with his government’s approval of the Pacific Northwest LNG pipeline that will produce around 8.7 megatons of greenhouse gases per year. One of my Canadian co-workers is very disappointed by him.

    Cynical, weary, disappointed — this is why I try and avoid immersing myself in news all the time. It’s exhausting!

    1. I agree. I know many women here are feeling even PTSD from prior sexual assaults as Trump boasts about his. To think that he could become Commander in Chief is almost beyond imagining….and yet his fans shriek his name as if he were the Second Coming.

      It is exhausting, all of it. It’s very hard not to become cynical, bitter and give up.

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