By John Krull
INDIANAPOLIS – No battered woman I ever interviewed has been happy, much less, eager to tell her story.
I’ve talked with quite a few. I’ve reported on domestic violence for more than 30 years.
John Krull, publisher, TheStatehouseFile.com
No woman I’ve talked with about the abuse she suffered ever did so with glee.
That’s because doing so is painful, even if the telling can be therapeutic. Recounting tales of being hit, kicked, choked or otherwise assaulted by men they cared for and thought cared for them dredges up memories unhappy at best and searing at worst.
These women often battle feelings of self-recrimination. Because their abusers often tell women they “did something” to “provoke” the battering, too many women carry with them feelings that they somehow were responsible for the trauma they experienced.
They struggle with feelings of self-loathing that linger for years after the physical bruises heal.
Even if these women work past the damage done to their senses of themselves – and doing so often requires much work – and realize the responsibility for the violence done them lies not with them but with the man who did the violence, the women still war with doubt.
They question their judgment.
Why, they ask themselves, couldn’t they see that the men they married, the men they loved and thought loved them, the men with whom they often have had children, not only did not cherish them but instead pummeled them? How could they have been so wrong about someone?
How can they ever trust their feelings again?
How, for that matter, can they ever trust anyone again?
Those feelings of distrust also often linger for years, if they ever fade away completely.
Then there’s the shame – the sheer embarrassment of having to admit that someone who was supposed to treasure them instead treated them with all the tenderness of a woodchopper hacking down a tree.
No one takes pride in being beaten.
No one takes satisfaction in talking about being battered.
That’s why most reputable studies show that few women – between one in 50 and one in 100, in fact – who say they have been abused aren’t telling the truth.
It’s just not something people make up.
The chances that multiple women would conjure up similar stories about the same man are somewhere between astronomical and non-existent.
This brings me to President Donald Trump and his defense of two accused woman-beaters in his administration, former staff secretary Rob Porter and former speechwriter David Sorensen.
One of Porter’s ex-wives said he hit her in the face, leaving her with a black eye. Another ex-wife said he dragged her from the shower, choked her and threw her to the ground.
Sorensen’s ex-wife said he drove a car over her foot, burned her with a cigarette, threw her against a wall and dragged her by her hair.
Charming fellows, aren’t they?
Trump tweeted after howls of protest prompted their resignations that it was awful the way a “mere allegation” was ruining and destroying people’s lives and reputations.
“Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?” he concluded.
The president’s newfound discovery of due process might be touching, if not for a couple of considerations.
The first is that his concern for due-process rights is spotty at best. The Trumpian tendency to label undocumented immigrants and Muslims as murderers and terrorists – and force them to demonstrate innocence rather than demand the state prove guilt – turns due process on its head.
The second is that serving in the White House isn’t a right. It’s a privilege, something that must be earned. That is why people who work for the president must be investigated and have security clearances.
The fact that Trump chose not to impose much rigor in selecting the people who work for him reveals his contempt for both the law and his responsibilities as president.
But that’s not the most troubling thing about what he said.
This president seems to have great reservoirs of sympathy for powerful males accused of wrongdoing.
But he shows little for the women who were punched, choked or even had cigarettes put out in their flesh by men who once stood before God and everyone promising to love, honor and protect them.
Shame on them.
Shame on him.
John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 Indianapolis and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.