Over the weekend, after watching Donald Trump basically call her a liar, Jennie Willoughby, wife of accused spousal abuser and White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter, decided to write an op-ed response for Time. She addressed Trump, her critics and her fellow #MeToo survivors/victims. Willoughby’s main issue: Society’s victim-blaming.
It wasn’t so much that Trump and the White House praised their ‘golden boy” Rob Porter. She expected that. But what really struck a chord was when Trump twice emphasized that Porter had declared himself innocent—which is the same as twice insinuating Willoughby, like all of Trump’s accusers, are liars. Trump tweeted:
Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused – life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 10, 2018
“There it is again. The words “mere allegation” and “falsely accused” meant to imply that I am a liar. That Colbie Holderness is a liar. That the work Rob was doing in the White House was of higher value than our mental, emotional or physical wellbeing. That his professional contributions are worth more than the truth. That abuse is something to be questioned and doubted.
The former school teacher says that ultimately denial seems to be easier than devastation.
“The tendency to avoid, deny, or cover up abuse is never really about power, or money, or an old boys’ club. It is deeper than that. Rather than embarrass an abuser, society is subconsciously trained to question a victim of abuse. I would call it an ignorant denial based on the residual, puritan, collective agreement that abuse is uncomfortable to talk about.”
One of the bravest statements Willoughby makes in her op-ed is when she admits that even amidst the #MeToo movement, she has also caught herself questioning accusers due to what she calls societal conditioning. “It overrides what I know in my heart to be true.” Victims are frightened, degraded and their self-esteem can be ripped away not knowing who is to blame, even though it’s never the victim’s fault (never). Willoughby believes if someone finds the strength and courage to come forward, he or she should be believed, “because that declaration only comes after an uphill battle toward rebirth.”
We are at a critical moment in history, she says, and three things we know for sure:
Where there is anger, there is underlying pain.
Where there is denial, there is underlying fear.
Where there is abuse, there is cover-up.
Regardless of her compassion for her ex-husband’s illness, Willoughby says she does not tolerate abuse—nor does she condone support for it as with Trump and the White House’s support for Porter. And though they may dismiss the accusations of Colbie Holderness and herself, Willoughby assures us that her truth wil not be diminished by them or anyone.
“I own my story and now that I have been compelled to share it, I’m not willing to cover it up for anyone, adding, “To any man, woman or child currently in situations of abuse, please know, it’s real. You are not crazy. You are not alone. I believe you.”
Her strength and her conviction to come forward, like so many victims via the #MeToo movement, sheds a light on the darker, not so talked about—private war on women.
Read Willoughby’sfull op-edHERE.
If you are a victim, or know someone experiencing abuse/domestic violence, there is free and confidential help available. Visit The National Domestic Violence Hotline website at TheHotline.org or call 1-800-799-7233 | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). The organization also offers live chats. If there is immediate danger, first call 911. Please remember, you are not alone—and it’s not your fault.
Sign up for our newsletter.