Of all the crimes that Donald Trump is credibly accused of, marital rape is perhaps the least understood. When Ivana Trump accused her spouse of raping her in 1989, state law making this a crime was relatively new. Prior to the Court of Appeals outlawing it in 1984, New York state’s penal code contained a “marital exemption” to its rape laws.
Although marital rape is now illegal in all 50 states, ongoing misunderstanding about it persists. In the case of former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a short-lived Democratic presidential candidate in 2019, this willful ignorance came at his own sister’s expense.
In a similar way, many Americans fail to comprehend that a sitting president would violently assault a co-equal branch of government, as occurred in January’s attack. But the Insurrection on the US Capitol and American democracy was an outrageous violation, which is tantamount to the secondary, nonsexual definition of rape.
After I was raped in the late 1980s not far from the US Capitol, I was so traumatized I called my father to tell him my credit cards had been stolen, never mentioning the uglier context. Looking back on this conversation, my father knew I wasn’t telling the whole truth. He just knew. And I just needed to hear his reassuring voice.
On the other hand, my mother’s ability to appreciate the whole sordid matter took some time to achieve. The way I enlisted her unconditional understanding involved a fair amount of psychotherapy, not to mention the critical insight of my younger siblings—sisters and brothers.
When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently disclosed that she too is a sexual assault survivor, I empathized with her post-traumatic stress, in the context of the Insurrection. Many of us know the former president is guilty of inciting it; we are public witnesses.
And while Donald Trump tried to have his way with voters who clearly said “no” to him, doing to the electorate exactly what he did to his first wife and scores of other women, he seriously miscalculated the will of the American people. Because his whole existence depends on “blurred lines,” and corruption is his middle name, it’s hard to imagine a loophole he hasn’t exploited, especially after completely perverting the office of the president for his own power and control over fellow citizens.
No one wants to believe they’re rapable, just as no one wants to concede their own president would lie to them, let alone betray the oath of office to uphold the Constitution. However, the stone-cold reality is that Trump’s rape charges, sociopathic perversions, and seditious tendencies amount to the truest measure of the man. Just as society’s thinking about marital rape has evolved, so too will the collective assessment of the once and former president: pervert, rapist, and insurrectionist. Voted out of office, impeached again, and now facing a bevy of criminal charges, his racketeering days are numbered.
BusinessInsider (2019): The 25 women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct, The 26 women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct
MotherJones (2019): It’s 2019, And States Are Still Making Exceptions for Spousal Rape, https://www.motherjones.com/crime-justice/2019/11/deval-patrick-spousal-rape-laws/
The New York Times (2021): Ocasio-Cortez Says She Is a Sexual Assault Survivor, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/01/nyregion/aoc-sexual-assault-abuse.html
Times Union (2015): Wives have protection under law, https://www.timesunion.com/tuplus-opinion/article/Wives-have-protection-under-law-6424725.php