Four years is a long time. In four years a child can grow from a newborn to school bound toddler; a college dropout can create a social network and amass a fortune of $1.5 billion; a tyrannical leader can gain the hearts of a poverty-stricken nation and turn it into a war machine.
In four years, a lot can happen.
Some may say this approach is melodramatic, and certainly many have pointed to the futility of ongoing protests over a month after the presidential election has passed. However, for organization Women and Allies and groups alike, four years of Mr. Trump has kept them aghast and active against the president elect and loud on the streets around the U.S.
Its been a busy week for those who, in acts of defiance throughout the country, have decided this week might be their last chance to change the nation’s four-year future. An emboldened crowd stormed the streets of New York on Monday in a last ditch attempt to get the attention of the electoral college and perhaps sway their votes uncharacteristically in favor of the popular vote winner, Hilary Clinton.
Clinton’s 2.8 million vote win over Trump is null and void because of the electoral system, something which as a foreigner, is baffling.
This nonsensical and outdated system has outraged not only me, but thousands of other women across the country and has charged a revolt seen on 5th avenue over the past month. This week, in a march organized by group Women and Allies, people took Monday off work and abandoned holiday shopping plans to roast the system and march on Trump Tower, where the future president spent his week meeting up with Silicon Valley hotshots from Facebook, Amazon and Apple, and the controversial musician Kanye West.
These meetings come at a time when other hotshots - celebrity hotshots, have come out with a plea message aligned with that of Women and Allies - for the electors to ‘vote their conscience.' Martin Sheen leads the way in the latest video from uniteforamerica.org calling on Republican electors to change their vote, of which Clinton needs only 37 to ‘change the course of history.’
Women and Allies, one of many organizations fighting against the old system, have been wielding swords in much of the opposition to Trump, perhaps most notably by raising money for causes he has spoken out vehemently against - such as Planned Parenthood and LGBTQA.
Droves of people came out for the march and other such protests for the past week, devoted to disrupting the normalization of Trump’s presidential-elect status. They come at a crucial time not only in terms of the electoral vote, but also in protest of Trump’s newly appointed cabinet, which many believe threatens the very core of American values.
"This protest wasn't just to get our voices out there before the electors vote, but it was also to show a strength in numbers - that united, the people are strong, to show solidarity."
- Isabella G
Signs read ‘electors save us’ and ‘no compromises on bigotry’ while chants of ‘LOVE TRUMPS HATE’ rang out through the packed and rambunctious crowd. Isabella, one of the march’s organizers, was optimistic about the affect of the disturbance on the day. Commenting on the mood, she says it was positive - that a feeling of unity pervaded the predominantly female crowd, united in defiance against the misogynistic prospect of Mr. Trump. The movement has not merely grown out of defiance, but out of fear. There is the deepening divide in ideologies between what’s right and what’s wrong in Trump’s America. For these protestors, Trump is on the cusp of bulldozing over the very democracy this country has spent hundreds of years struggling to create. The change about to come is the likes of which the U.S and the wider world - our generation at least - has never seen before.
While there might be no indicator as to whether the litany of marches this past week has had any effect on the prospective electoral vote, a very clear message has been sent to the president elect should he succeed in attaining office in January.
We shall not be moved.
The day after the inauguration in January, a march has been scheduled in Washington D.C for which 100,000’s of people have expressed interest in via social media channels. Buses from New York City and along much of the East coast are being arranged already and hotels are reporting almost full capacity in anticipation of the exodus to the capital to protest the new president and his promise to change the country from its current standing.
In 2016, I finally found my voice. I always thought I had one, especially as a business owner and mother of two vocal toddlers, but I had been wrong.
For more than 30 years, I had been struggling with the fear of being my true self and speaking my truth. Then the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse unraveled before me while raising my 3-year-old daughter, and my life has not been the same since.
Believe it or not, I am happy about that.
The journey for a survivor like me to feel even slightly comfortable sharing these words, without fear of being shamed or looked down upon, is a long and often lonely one. For all of the people out there in the shadows who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I dedicate this to you. You might never come out to talk about it and that's okay, but I am going to do so here and I hope that in doing so, I will open people's eyes to the long-term effects of abuse. As a survivor who is now fully conscious of her abuse, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, quite frankly, it may never go away.
It took me some time to accept that and I refuse to let it stop me from thriving in life; therefore, I strive to manage it (as do many others with PTSD) through various strategies I've learned and continue to learn through personal and group therapy. Over the years, various things have triggered my repressed memories and emotions of my abuse--from going to birthday parties and attending preschool tours to the Kavanaugh hearing and most recently, the"Leaving Neverland" documentary (I did not watch the latter, but read commentary about it).
These triggers often cause panic attacks. I was angry when I read Barbara Streisand's comments about the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary. She was quoted as saying, "They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them." She later apologized for her comments. I was frustrated when one of the senators questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (during the Kavanaugh hearing) responded snidely that Dr. Ford was still able to get her Ph.D. after her alleged assault--as if to imply she must be lying because she gained success in life.We survivors are screaming to the world, "You just don't get it!" So let me explain: It takes a great amount of resilience and fortitude to walk out into society every day knowing that at any moment an image, a sound, a color, a smell, or a child crying could ignite fear in us that brings us back to that moment of abuse, causing a chemical reaction that results in a panic attack.
So yes, despite enduring and repressing those awful moments in my early life during which I didn't understand what was happening to me or why, decades later I did get married; I did become a parent; I did start a business that I continue to run today; and I am still learning to navigate this "new normal." These milestones do not erase the trauma that I experienced. Society needs to open their eyes and realize that any triumph after something as ghastly as childhood abuse should be celebrated, not looked upon as evidence that perhaps the trauma "never happened" or "wasn't that bad. "When a survivor is speaking out about what happened to them, they are asking the world to join them on their journey to heal. We need love, we need to feel safe and we need society to learn the signs of abuse and how to prevent it so that we can protect the 1 out of 10 children who are being abused by the age of 18. When I state this statistic at events or in large groups, I often have at least one person come up to me after and confide that they too are a survivor and have kept it a secret. My vehicle for speaking out was through the novella The Survivors Club, which is the inspiration behind a TV pilot that my co-creator and I are pitching as a supernatural, mind-bending TV series. Acknowledging my abuse has empowered me to speak up on behalf of innocent children who do not have a voice and the adult survivors who are silent.
Remembering has helped me further understand my young adult challenges,past risky relationships, anger issues, buried fears, and my anxieties. I am determined to thrive and not hide behind these negative things as they have molded me into the strong person I am today.Here is my advice to those who wonder how to best support survivors of sexual abuse:Ask how we need support: Many survivors have a tough exterior, which means the people around them assume they never need help--we tend to be the caregivers for our friends and families. Learning to be vulnerable was new for me, so I realized I needed a check-off list of what loved ones should ask me afterI had a panic attack.
The list had questions like: "Do you need a hug," "How are you feeling," "Do you need time alone."Be patient with our PTSD". Family and close ones tend to ask when will the PTSD go away. It isn't a cold or a disease that requires a finite amount of drugs or treatment. There's no pill to make it miraculously disappear, but therapy helps manage it and some therapies have been known to help it go away. Mental Health America has a wealth of information on PTSD that can help you and survivors understand it better. Have compassion: When I was with friends at a preschool tour to learn more about its summer camp, I almost fainted because I couldn't stop worrying about my kids being around new teenagers and staff that might watch them go the bathroom or put on their bathing suit. After the tour, my friends said,"Nubia, you don't have to put your kids in this camp. They will be happy doing other things this summer."
In that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have friends who understood what I was going through and supported me. They showed me love and compassion, which made me feel safe and not judged.