Trump’s accusers: Um….I know how they feel…..

As I’m writing this, nine women have accused Donald Trump of sexual assault or sexual harassment – or sexual aggression, you might call it.

It’s difficult to believe, right? Because why are they just coming forward now, less than a month before the election? It’s suspicious. If what he did to them was so bad, they would have filed some sort of complaint.

Press pause.

In 1988, I started graduate school at Boston University, studying for a master’s degree in journalism. That year could be called the final stage of my wilding phase – I had just come off a two-year stint working on the Mississippi Queen steamboat, which had followed a job as a swamp tour guide. I was a free-spirited girl who loved boys and books and booze, and I was excited to spend a whole year writing.

The journalism grad students quickly bonded into a hilarious clique – we spent hours in bars talking about Michael Dukakis and politics and sexual escapades and the latest investigative piece in the Boston Globe. And we went to class. We hardly ever skipped because our professors were brilliant and engaging; we could listen to them for hours. One of our favorite classes covered literary criticism, and it was taught by a great critic who just two years earlier had won a Pulitzer.

This man – let’s call him Edward – graduated from Harvard and had worked as a foreign correspondent for two decades. He then delved into the world of reviewing dramas and film, eventually focusing on literary fiction. He was married to a woman he had known since childhood; they had a bunch of children. He was in his late 50s at the time he taught me.

As a professor, he was spellbinding. He told stories of meeting foreign leaders and interviewing famous authors. He often read his work in class, and his words mesmerized us. He was a fascinating, talented man.

In the beginning, I was not a very good reviewer. I couldn’t quite get the hang of it. But for one assignment, I reviewed an episode of the Geraldo Rivera show – the one in which Geraldo is at a nudist colony and conducts  interviews with a bunch of naked people in a hot tub. Note: bad reviews are notoriously easier to write. My copy was resplendent with adjectives like pulsing, writhing, steamy and wet. He asked me to read it to the class. I captured the absurdity of the Geraldo show with a sexual playfulness that was fun to read yet made a point. I got an A.

At some point toward the end of the term, Edward called me and asked me to meet him in his Beacon Hill office to talk about my grades. At the appointed time, I knocked on his door and he let me into his messy office swamped with books and papers. “First things first,” he said. He was hungry, he told me, and wanted to go have lunch at his favorite Italian restaurant next door. He asked me to join him. Flattered to be in such esteemed company, I said yes. At the restaurant, he ordered wine and food for both of us. When my glass neared empty, he ordered me another. We talked about my goals and my life, and he spoke encouragingly to me about my writing.

Back at his office, we sat down in chairs facing each other. “I have a gift for you,” he said. He pulled a guitar from beneath his desk, strummed it a few times, and said he had written me a song. He picked at some chords, then began singing a somewhat tuneless ditty: There was girl with red hair and blue eyes, who sailed into the skies, with bright blue eyes, across the sea….

It was painfully long and bad. He kept his eyes locked on mine the whole time.

When the song was over, he put down the guitar and rolled his chair so close to me our knees were touching. He took my hand. “Tricia, I have to tell you,” he said. “I really like you as a friend. But I also really, really like you as more than a friend. And I would like us to be more than friends.” My hand in his, his finger stroking my wrists. Him leaning into me, his parted lips perilously close to my face, looking for a kiss. His ghastly post-lunch breath.

I backed away from him. I told him I had a boyfriend. I told him I was sorry if I had given him the wrong impression. I carefully willed myself to not run screaming from the building. He looked at me sadly with puppy dog eyes and a weak smile. “I’d at least like a hug,” he said. So I quickly hugged him. And then I left.

As soon as I arrived home, I called my best friend who was also in the program and told her what had happened. She was stunned. We laughed about it uneasily, and discussed whether we should tell the department’s lead professor, but didn’t come to any conclusion.

Class was awkward the next day. Edward ignored me, and I felt shunned. And then something weird happened: my friend and I noticed another woman in the program began talking about Edward incessantly. Edward loaned me this book to read, or Edward and I were just talking about that! “You should be careful around him,” I told her after a couple of days.

“Don’t be silly!” she said. “He’s wonderful!” But this woman also had red hair and blue eyes, and I was suspicious. I started quietly singing Edward’s song to her, and she gasped in recognition before turning and walking away.

The semester came to a close, and I received my final grades. Edward gave me a C. I demanded that he change it to a B, which he did, and then I told the lead professor who told the dean, and Edward was called in for questioning. He didn’t deny it. He just spoke about how tempting it was to be amongst so many beautiful co-eds.

Should I have held a press conference to announce what Edward had done? Should I have sent letters to his employers? Should I have sued someone? Told his wife? I would have been ridiculed and shunned. And for what purpose?

So I did nothing. Edward was a famous, respected man who had done something kind of loathsome. I moved on with my life, and cringed every time I had to conjure up his name for a NYT crossword puzzle. I’ve never publicly told this story. But if this man was suddenly nominated for sainthood, I’d definitely be calling up the media saying, Hey, listen to this. That won’t happen. He died a few years ago, and there’s no reason to name him here other than for revenge, which I’m not seeking. Still, it happened, and it says something about his actions that I still recall how he looked at me, how he held my hand, my helpless revulsion at being propositioned by a man whose approval I literally needed to graduate.

I’m guessing that Trump’s accusers had the same experience. Trump did something loathsome to them, but what could they do? They extracted themselves from the situation and moved on with their lives. Had they come forward 10 years ago, or five, or 12 months ago, they would have been ridiculed, and for what purpose? No one would have believed them. But they were struck by Trump’s insistence that he has never treated women that way. He forced their hands, in a way. He unintentionally dared them to come forward.

Listen, men have been doing bad things to women since forever. We don’t always tell. But not telling shouldn’t reduce credibility. Donald Trump cheated on his first wife. He cheated on his second wife. He actually told a reporter years ago, on national television, that he could never run for president because of his problems with women. He has been recorded explaining exactly how he assaults women. And now we’re all surprised and suspicious when women come forward and say, Yup! That’s how it happened!

“No one has more respect for women than me,” Trump has repeatedly said. Edward might have said the same thing. But that doesn’t mean it’s true.


22 responses to Trump’s accusers: Um….I know how they feel…..

  1. Dan Hamilton says:

    Ah yes, SPC. “Edward” was not the only one. A gal I knew there used to get a few of her friends together and would sing “A pretty girl is like an A to me” when a certain prof was walking down the hall. Scared the crap out of him. Well deserved.

    • tricia says:

      I wish I had thought of that. Thanks for confirming. xoxo

  2. Becky Donohue says:

    Thank you for sharing your powerful story! I appreciate it personally.

    • tricia says:

      You’re welcome, Becky. And thanks for reading, and considering.

    • tricia says:

      Thank you, Robert! Yes, and I got off easier than most….

    • tricia says:

      Thanks for reading, Amy. As moms of daughters, we need to keep talking about this, right?

      • Holly says:

        As a mom of sons we need to keep talking about this! What is right… what is wrong… XXoo

  3. Lois Chepenik says:

    We’ve all had similar experiences….yours more beautifully told. I believe every one of his accusers.

  4. Susie says:

    Innocent until proven guilty! Donald Trump is not applying for Sainthood, he is trying to make this country great again. I do not believe any of these accusers. They all have ties to Hillary Clinton and a several have donate money to her campaign.

    • tricia says:

      Actually – let’s not get loose with the facts – none of them have ties to the Clinton campaign, and although some have donated to her campaign, who can blame them? Certainly I would donate to the person opposing the man who had assaulted me. No one is asking that our president be a saint – but I think he should be a good man. By his own words, Trump has proven to be the opposite. But I thank you for reading.

      • Susie says:

        Guess what? We have two people running neither of whom have a sterling reputation. That means we have to vote for the person who has the best interests of the American people and this country in mind! That is Donald Trump! Why would someone spend so much of their own money to be falsely accused and constantly bad mouthed by the liberal media if he doesn’t want to help this country? Why would his family stand behind him and put up with all the garbage that is being said about their father if they didn’t believe in him. His children are well educated, hardworking, good people. They were raised to be that way by their parents — one of whom is Donald Trump. Hillary has the best interests of people who contributed to her campaign, whether they are good people or not, in mind. She has no interest in bettering this country, she is interested in money and power. I will definitely be voting for Trump and I work in a very big company and most people are either voting for Trump or not voting. If Hillary wins, It will be just like when Obama won and did so shitty, no one will admit they voted for her. This country is going down if the Democrats stay in power.

        • tricia says:

          Okay, just keeping it real here. Donald Trump has not self-funded his campaign – he loaned his campaign the money, and is being repaid with the money gathered by fundraising. He did not really parent his children; he has said on numerous occasions that they were primarily raised by their mother. Also, please use statistics when referring to how poorly Obama has done. For example, the national debt is down, unemployment is down, crime is down, and the DOW is up.

    • tricia says:

      Hi Joe – thanks for reading. Love hearing from you. xoxo

  5. Eleanor says:

    Oh, Tricia. I am so glad to see your expert writing about a personal action, that should make people realize the deceptiveness of Trump’s actions. Denial seems to make it okay.

    • tricia says:

      Thanks, Eleanor. Love you, and your wise perspective. Thanks for writing. xoxo

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