I have wondered for a few months how many people, specifically women are triggered by Trump and his behavior. Come to find out, quite a few people. Colleagues, other counselors, myself, have utilized our own therapy sessions to discuss his behavior, as well a number of my female clients have utilized their sessions in such a way. A waste of time? No. Because Trump is a trigger and a stand-in for the men that have sexually assaulted, manipulated, lied to (consistently), and marginalized women (and men). Trump can represent husbands, boyfriends, dates, colleagues, friends, acquaintances and even family members. To me, Trump is the narcissist that I’ve dated and I literally thank God for not signing up to that in any long-term committed way, but for my clients he is a resemblance of their abuser (verbal, emotional, sexual).
Trump and his behavior which are on full display 24/7 are stand-in’s for the way women (not all) have been mistreated and abused. Women watching Trump for months felt something familiar yet uncomfortable. He seemed harmless in the beginning because we knew he was an entertainer, entertaining. Over time, you can literally see textbook narcissism unfold. Then came the multiple sexual assault allegations and boundary violations towards Trump. It was this that really capped feelings of fear, anger, and disgust for my clients. Yes, he’s Trump but he’s also a stand-in to the women (and men) that have experienced some form of abuse, assault or master manipulation. What they’ve been witnessing is a similar timeline to their own experience. It was either out right abuse of power (molestation) or it crept up on you first through the courtship of charm, the management of the image, the promises, which gave way to self-aggrandizement, manipulations, name-calling, lies, lack of accountability, inability to say “I’m sorry,” tantrums and intimidation tactics.
Umm..Did you see the second debate? I was waiting for Trump to take out a knife from his coat jacket and stab Hillary in the back. A man lurking behind, pacing back and forth. Intimidation tactic. I don’t know about you, but as a woman, I was uncomfortable, even knowing he wouldn’t do any physical harm. Being a woman, we automatically go there, ‘Am I safe?’ We think about those things, our safety in the most innocuous places. Trump reminds us big time that we still have to.
Women are reminded by his words that we are objects, there for the pleasure and taking of men. Again, we’ve heard the blaming, name calling, tantrums, manipulations, lies, lack of remorse or apology, and lack of accountability when called out. This is all for his benefit. We’ve also seen and heard the self-aggrandized entitlement. Entitlement so big and entrenched, that he knew, felt and stated that whatever his behavior, he was untouchable and definitely not the problem. Imagine this behavior in a one on one relationship. Would you want to be in this relationship? What would you call this relationship? Healthy? Abusive? Loving? Normal? Selfish?
I was going to wait to discuss this when sharing about disorganized relational (attachment) style and narcissism, but with so many people affected in my personal and professional circles, I am writing about this first. I have seen the pain, anger, disgust and all around stress that is taking their toll on our well-being. Some have withdrawn for self-protection not knowing what to say or who to trust, because sharing the impact has brought the dismissive responses from friends and family (‘don’t waste your time on that,’ or ‘don’t let it affect you,’ ‘don’t take it so personally,’) or it becomes a political monologue excusing his behavior and marginalizing one’s experience. All the things that were done to women before.
Not talking about this, about the stress this election induces because we don’t want to offend any of our family or friends because of varied political views is the new dirty little secret. In the spirit of Joan Rivers, ‘Can We Talk?’ about this now that it’s been confirmed recently how much stress this election cycle is placing upon each other?
The good thing about this national stand-in, is that women (people in general) can heal if they’ve been triggered by Trump as well as we become well-versed in the Art of the Con. Because of Trump, people will be able to identify what being taken advantage of, manipulated, objectified, and eschewed looks and sounds like. There is also a great opportunity to address the misogyny and double standards that women face, if only we crossed political affiliations and had an open conversation where we really listened to each other, as people.
Something tells me that if a woman achieves POTUS status, then we will ample opportunity to address the latter.