Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Trump's 'Grab 'Em' Comment Unleashes National Conversation

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Trump's 'Grab 'Em' Comment Unleashes National Conversation

Article excerpt

NEW YORK * On Facebook and Twitter, on the phone and on the job, from living rooms to hair salons, Donald Trump's "grab 'em by the (expletive)" comment has unleashed a tsunami of stories from women sharing painful memories of sexual assaults.

Many of these women were grabbed by the genitals exactly as Trump described by men who fled or melted into a crowd. Some women were molested as children on a playground or school bus. Others were groped on a train or dance floor. They've told of attacks getting out of taxicabs, harassment in the workplace and rapes on college campuses.

Many shared their experiences for the first time in the days since the video of Trump's comments aired, while others have been exorcising their demons for a long time on blogs or in therapy.

Whatever the forum, whatever their experience, one thing is for sure: A presidential candidate's boastful description of manhandling women's bodies has become a national conversation about sexual assault. Thousands of women have stood up to say, publicly and firsthand, "This happened to me!"

Jennifer McGraw, 35, of Cleveland, wrote a blog post Sunday about being molested as a child called "My Disposable Body" that began with these words: "It all started with a grab of the (expletive)."

McGraw, who is also a rape survivor, said social media conversations about sex assaults "have blown up" because the Republican presidential nominee's comments about groping made speaking out more urgent than ever.

"This is somebody who could be our president," she said. "I can't not talk about it at this point. There's too much at stake. I feel strong enough at this point in my life to share my story and share my truth. That's the only way people will heal."

From presidential candidate Gary Hart's sexual relationship with Donna Rice in the 1980s and news of President Bill Clinton's affairs a decade later to former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner's more recent sexting scandal, the sex lives of politicians have been in headlines before.

But comments about sexually accosting women, characterized by Trump as "locker room talk," are unprecedented. When asked by CNN's Anderson Cooper during Sunday's debate if he'd sexually assaulted women, Trump said he had not.

The national conversation about sexual assault is "a powerful thing," said Delilah Rumburg, CEO of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center in Harrisburg, Pa.

"We saw this in the last year with campus sexual assaults when many young women started coming forward and speaking their truths. This is a way for them to feel like they have some power back when they can tell those stories, to hold not only those who commit these crimes accountable but the systems as well. I know those survivors' voices can do much more than I ever could as an advocate."

A survey by the U. …

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