I was 17 years old and vacationing in Germany with my parents, who sat facing me on the train. I stared out the window, the seat beside me empty. As the train traveled through the Rhine Valley, we picked up more passengers. Eventually a middle-aged man boarded the crowded train, sat down next to me, and unfolded his newspaper. I continued to stare out the window. After a while, the train entered a tunnel and everything went dark.
Suddenly, the man was all over me, pressing his face into mine, groping my breasts, my thighs. I froze, too shocked and embarrassed to move or utter a sound. The instant the train emerged from the tunnel, he returned to reading his newspaper.
My parents looked at my ashen face and asked what was wrong.
“Nothing,” I mumbled.
I hadn’t thought much about this incident over the years.
Until Donald Trump was caught on tape bragging about forcing himself on women. Then I was back in that dark tunnel again, along with millions of women remembering the unwanted advances we’ve silently endured.
Meanwhile, Trump’s doubled down on the disrespect that’s been evident throughout his campaign by demeaning and threatening those who have come forward with allegations against him.
“I don’t know these women,” he says dismissively.
He’s right about that–though not in the way he intended.
Trump did not know the woman who says he groped her on the plane, just as the man on the train didn’t know me. No one who views others as simply there for the taking bothers to know—or care—anything about them.
Trump may not know us, but we know him. And we’re tired of putting up with him and his kind.
I am no longer that scared-silent girl on the train. I have found my voice, and I intend to speak up.
Please feel free to share your experiences and your thoughts.