Trigger warning: sexual assault
7:18 a.m. EET November 9, 2016. A moment in time I will never forget. The moment I realized that he had won the election. I may be in Egypt at the moment, but I was every bit a part of the election. I slept an hour, maybe two that night. The time difference did not stop me. I sat on the couch in my apartment and let the waves of emotion crash over me as I received updates on my phone. Nothing I could have ever done would have prepared me for the tsunami that has been the past few days.
My body has been exploited once again. This time by words, not by tangible hands. His words justified the actions of my, and every other person’s, assaulter. I still feel the sickly touch of the boy who trespassed on my body. For the past four years, his hands have remained ghosts that patrol my body and dictate every other touch. They cemented a home in my being. The ghosts armed themselves with the arguments of some close to me. They took refuge in the culture that had blamed me—I had flirted with him and I had not uttered the word “no.” It was as if for years ice enshrouded my body, just as the day it first happened when I stood incapable of escaping a state of paralysis. It has been a long journey working through the consequences, and not a journey that has witnessed much success. It has only been in the last calendar year that I have fully begun to process and work through my demons. And here come the words once again. They assail my body. Except this time they are not a product of a community that lacked a full understanding of the language of consent. No, this time they come from my country. They come from the mouth of the man who will control our country and impact the world. They come from all those who directly or indirectly contributed to the rise of this racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic and deplorable president-elect we have now.
The results of the election are no longer about a simple difference of political opinion for me and so many others. The results feel personal in a way I have never experienced. Trump’s words and Trump’s actions have pushed me to open up about my experience with sexual assault. Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women was not shocking (something frightening on its own), and his excuse that it was “locker room talk” has dangerous repercussions. “Locker room talk” leads to “boys being boys” leads to the justification of sexual assault. It makes the physical, physiological and emotional trauma that too many women have to fight through a natural side effect of male behavior. Furthermore, in electing him, we have showed the brave twelve women who stepped forward accusing Trump of sexual assault that their words carry no weight. He was still elected. We silenced the impact of these women who chose a global audience to face their demons. He is our president-elect. We set the precedent that not only is sexual assault a natural occurrence, but also speaking out about it is useless. People often question assault victims why they don’t speak out. To those people, you have your answer. Women spoke out, and he was elected.
It has been tough internalizing the results and feeling that my own assaulter is now justified. In the past few days, I have been constantly reliving the experience and the reactions it produced. It has taken me four years to speak about my own experience to people besides those closest to me. I am choosing now. I am choosing this moment, so that Trump and his supporters will know that they cannot silence me. I know that while I am suffering, so are millions of other people. My pain and words do not carry more value than anyone’s. This is a time to grieve for the message we sent to the world and to speak out if that is right for you. We as a country might have sent the message that women, minorities, the LGBTQ community, and many others do not matter, that our bodies and safety are not in our control, that our words have no impact, but I and many others on various mediums are replying that they do. We all matter. We will work together for change. We are not alone in the fight against racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia and general bigotry. Love trumps hate.
I acknowledge my immense privilege as a white person (as well as the guilt that it was my demographic that elected this man). Furthermore, I acknowledge the privilege that I have in being able to vote and impact the election results. In Egypt, and in numerous places across the world, people’s voices do not have a platform to be heard. As I have been crying in almost all of my classes in the past few days, many of my professors and fellow students have grieved with me, likening my reaction to their own in 2012. That has been the majority of the responses I have received in Egypt. For the most part, the locals have the best intentions or are preoccupied with their own devastating economic trauma. I am thankful for my group of close friends that have provided comfort to each other, as we struggle with our own individual issues from the election.
It has been at times lonely being so far removed from America, even though I still feel connected to everything happening. I see my friends post pictures of protesting and read the posts of pain and fear. My spirit is with you all. I am livid. I am devastated. I am petrified. I am determined to fight for change.