Why We Need To Talk About Trump's Latest Comments & Violence Against Women

Photo: Courtesy of Kimberly Brusk.
Kimberly Brusk is a member of the Everytown Survivor Network, the cofounder of Women Against the Violence Epidemic, and a mom of three. The views expressed here are her own.

On Friday, we learned what Donald Trump truly thinks of women. In a leaked video, he claims that he can get away with whatever he wants — that as a star, he can “grab [women] by the pussy” with no consequences. Whether he realizes it or not — and it’s clear to me that he doesn’t — he is describing and bragging about sexual assault.

In the debate last night, we watched him again dismiss this disgusting video as “locker-room talk.” But women know better. Misogyny has consequences that can be life or death. There is a direct connection between comments like Trump's and the reason that my ex-husband attempted to shoot and kill me when I tried to leave him.

Seven years ago, I finally got the nerve to leave my abusive husband. After a particularly nasty assault, I went to the police and got a protective order against him, hoping that would help keep my infant daughter and me safe.

My husband believed that if he couldn’t have me, no one should. It’s that ownership of women — of our bodies, our minds — that ties directly back to Trump’s lewd comments and a culture of misogyny.

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Protective orders should prevent domestic abusers from buying guns. But in Michigan, as in the majority of states, it is so easy to buy a gun online or from a private seller, no questions asked. My decision to involve law enforcement slowed him down only marginally.

Police arrested him for domestic violence assault. His parents paid his bond, and he left jail the next day. A few days later, I came home from grocery shopping to a dark house — but I knew I had left the lights on.

I flipped the switch and found my ex standing in the doorway with a shotgun pointed at me. I ran out the door as he fired at me. Had my instincts been any slower, or his aim been any better, I would be dead.

I flipped the switch and found my ex standing in the doorway with a shotgun pointed at me. I ran out the door as he fired at me.

It’s an odd thing to feel lucky after experiencing years of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. But I survived. Every month, 51 American women are shot and killed by current or former spouses or intimate partners, according to Everytown for Gun Safety research.

The gun lobby likes to claim that protecting ourselves from gun violence is about keeping us safe from strangers in a dark alley, but the facts don’t back that up. Women are twice as likely to be killed with a gun by a current or former male intimate partner than killed by a stranger using any method, combined.

My ex-husband believed that if he couldn’t have me, no one should. It’s that ownership of women — of our bodies, our minds — that ties directly back to Trump’s lewd comments and a culture of misogyny.

I was grateful to Hillary Clinton for bringing up background checks and closing the gun show loophole as she spoke last night. But I was disappointed that not even one minute of the debate was spent specifically discussing how the laws must change to better protect victims of domestic violence from the threat of gun violence. After all, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Trump’s comments put the issue front and center.

I was disappointed that not even one minute of the debate was spent specifically discussing how the laws must change to better protect victims of domestic violence from the threat of gun violence.

I’m still waiting to hear from the candidates on what they’ll do to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. Ensuring a background check on every gun sale — which Donald Trump opposes — is the obvious first step. If someone has been convicted of domestic abuse, of course they shouldn’t be able to buy a firearm. But there’s more we can do, too.

In most states, the law has not kept up with the times. Convicted domestic abusers who are married to, live with, or have a child with their victim cannot pass a background check. But if an abuser is just a dating partner, their ability to buy a gun remains unrestricted. That’s what’s known as “the boyfriend loophole,” and it is deadly. Additionally, some states have what’s known as a “surrender policy,” which requires abusers to give up their guns when they’re convicted of domestic violence. That, too, seems like an obvious step. I would love to hear the candidates discuss it.

Trump spent most of the weekend minimizing his comments. Simultaneously, more and more stories were shared online of women who say he has harassed them. We deserve better than an abuser-in-chief.

I hope in November, women will prove to Trump that we are a united force against abuse and the rape culture that perpetuates this terrifying, destructive cycle. Nothing happens overnight. But I can promise that I will never be silent when so many lives remain at risk.
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