NEW YORK CITY — Neither presidential candidate had a “decent” track record when it came to sexual assault this election cycle, multiple sexual violence survivors and activists told TheBlaze this week.
Aside from the anger some survivors may feel in the wake of Donald Trump’s election due to allegations against him and his past comments about women, some activists are concerned about policy that could change under his command.
Laura Dunn, the founder and executive director of SurvJustice, a national nonprofit for campus sexual assault survivors, told Broadly that her organization is concerned about the future of the White House Task Force to Protect Students Against Sexual Assault.
The task force is part of President Barack Obama’s federal efforts to address sexual assault on college campuses.
“We are unsure if the [task force] will continue,” she told Broadly, adding that, if were to end, organizations that cater to victims of sexual assault might suffer.
Dunn also said she’s concerned about funding for advocacy groups through the Office of Violence Against Women or the Office of Victims of Crime.
But Meaghan Ybos, founder of the Memphis-based advocacy group People for the Enforcement of Rape Laws, argued that the federal government can do little to adequately and accurately address one aspect of the issue of sexual assault — reporting to police and, subsequently, how law enforcement officials handle the crime.
She told TheBlaze:
I do not share the sentiments of other sexual assault activists who say they will not recognize Trump as their president. Despite recent advocacy by President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, the executive branch has very little bearing on the outcomes of people who report rape to police.
The laws and policies that impact rape complaints come from the authority of state and local governments. It is state and local organizing that can improve the lives of rape complaints where federal advocacy cannot.
A spokeswoman for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center told TheBlaze that the organization is "looking forward at the work ahead of us in our ongoing commitment to creating a future without sexual violence."
"Sexual assault isn’t a partisan issue, and we’ve always planned to work with the next president to advance the progress we’ve already made in responding to and preventing incidents of sexual violence," Laura Palumbo, communications director for NSVRC, said. "We remain committed to helping move policies forward that put an end to sexual violence once and for all."
"NSVRC firmly believes this is the generation that will end sexual violence, but that can only happen with the administration’s leadership in maintaining focus on this issue," she added. "We are committed to working with the next administration to do just that."
Still, even before the president-elect took the stage in a Manhattan hotel early Wednesday morning to promise to be a president for all Americans, some women said they felt as though they were left behind or unable to support his presidency at all.
"Tomorrow I will walk out of my house knowing that 1/2 the country gave their implicit approval of sexual assault today," Carolina O. said on Twitter.
In a subsequent tweet, she continued, “This makes me terrified to walk out of my own house. And I’m a sexual assault researcher/advocate/survivor — this stuff isn’t new to me.”
“Every little girl in America has just been told that if you work hard, be good and make nice, you still can’t be president but your abuser can,” writer Van Badham tweeted early Wednesday morning.
“People ask why women don’t report sexual assault. You got your answer: a man can have double digit accusers and still be elected President,” another Twitter user said.
Writing for Elite Daily, Yakira Cohen argued that those who voted for Trump “voted for me and every other victim of sexual assault and rape to go through hell every single day for the next four years.”
By filling in that little oval next to Donald Trump’s name, you made it known that sexual assailants can get away with whatever they want.
You told us, the victims, that grabbing women by the pussy is OK because you think women are only here to succumb to a man’s needs.
Your pen, your decision and your vote silenced us for the next four years.
Throughout the final weeks of his campaign, multiple women came forward to accuse Trump of sexually assaulting or harassing them in various capacities.
A People magazine writer claimed that Trump pushed her against a wall and kissed her while a pregnant Melania Trump was in another room.
Summer Zervos, a former “Apprentice” contestant, alleged that Trump sexually assaulted her in a private Los Angeles bungalow after she sought him out for career advice.
Another woman who alleged Trump raped her when she was just 13-years-old suddenly dropped her lawsuit against him last week. The Daily Mail reported that “new information emerged that suggested she had not been telling the truth” about the case — which went widely unreported for multiple reasons.
Trump asserted that these allegations — and others — are unfounded. He also threatened to sue the women.
Ybos conjectured that the Clinton campaign was instrumental in successfully equating Trump with sexual assault, “even though Clinton's treatment of her husband's accusers should have been a vulnerability for" the former secretary of state as well. And she did so, Ybos said, with the help of the so-called mainstream media.
I will say also that I think Trump made a huge mistake to try to position himself as the ally and advocate of Bill Clinton’s accusers. This created the opening for the Clinton campaign to bring out the NBC tape and capitalize on Trump’s alleged accusers.
A 24-year-old social activist and organizer of the #AllOfUs campaign told Buzzfeed that many survivors and activists, like herself, wrongly assumed that Trump would not be elected once the 2005 tapes were leaked, which depicted Trump speaking crudely about women.
“If we are cool with electing a sexual predator to be president, what aren’t we cool with,” Natalie Green said.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network -- which is petitioning the next president to make sexual violence a top priority in his administration -- estimates that an average of 1 in 6 women are the victim of a rape or attempted rape in her lifetime.
RAINN, the nation’s leading anti-sexual assault organization, also estimates that 1 in 33 men are also the victim of a rape or attempted rape in his lifetime.