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What’s really going on with Melania Trump?

There was a short edit of a piece of film – or a GIF – which was circulating on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and when I first saw this I wondered if it had been edited in some way.

It disturbed me, really disturbed me.

It disturbed me so much I spoke with my team colleagues about it.  Amy, my Features Editor, made a statement having worked with victims of abuse, and she shares her story here.

I just felt a chill when I saw the change in Melania Trump’s face.  The whole world was watching her, surely she knew this, but whatever feelings she was experiencing they were that strong that she couldn’t keep the smile going.  The change from “smile” to “pain” was dramatic.

Take a read of Amy’s feature and let us know your thoughts…

I spent many years as a Domestic Violence therapist. I ran a batterers intervention group working with court ordered perpetrators of Domestic Violence. I know the patterns, the beliefs, the values, and the lack of regard that abusers exhibit. I know it intimately.  I also worked in a DV shelter and outpatient center providing therapy to Domestic Violence victims (men and women) who were also chemically dependent (drug addicts and alcoholics). Women and men whose self worth was less than human. Not only could they not kick the ‘habit’ they felt in some way that they deserved the abuse they received.
I’ve had abusers pull guns on me trying to get to their victims. Had to testify in court so many times I’ve lost count. Been threatened with knives. Seen children in such horrible circumstances that I still have nightmares. I’ve been in the trenches ya’ll. And it wasn’t just poor folks. Pill popping wealthy housewives coming to group therapy trying to cover their black eyes with the most expensive makeup money could buy. Some of those same women giving up all that money and privilege to enter a shelter to protect herself and her babies. Businessmen showing up for individual therapy with his phone blowing up every two minutes with a wife threatening to take his kids if he didn’t leave therapy. Angry wives walking into my office screaming at me for ruining their marriage because their husbands no longer accepted being slapped. And yes… women who had next to nothing, mired in institutionalized cycle of Children’s Services, only showing up to get their kids back.
I’ve seen a lot. And in the spirit of complete honesty… I also was in an abusive relationship. It’s more common than you think. Emotional abuse is still abuse. Control is still control. A person can bear emotional scars that sometimes never heal… bruises do. The first time my ex hit me was the last… however I still have physical problems as a result of that beating and always will. Yes, even someone well versed with abuse has blinders when it comes to their own lives.

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Perhaps all that is why when I saw Melania Trump’s behavior it shook me to the core. Huge red flag. A woman’s obvious distress has been reduced to a hashtag. #FreeMelania. Some of this smacks of sarcasm to me, some feels like true concern. Some people say that she chose it so suck it up. Some are genuinely worried for her safety. Even other people scoff and say that she’s a gold digger.  Perhaps the reason the world is so keenly focused on Melania is that she is seen to be a woman who refuses to be as offended as they are at “grab them by the pussy” and “such a nasty woman” and “Miss Piggy.”
One thing I know for certain, Trump’s attitude/behavior/words have shown that his respect for women is nil.  Melania’s husband is planning to make dramatic cuts to federal programs dedicated to ending violence against women.
I’m not here to judge her. Not even a little. In my experience, most women I’ve met and talked to have been put in a position at one time or another where they have been treated poorly.
Do I think Melania is affected by his attitudes towards women? Absolutely. Does it matter if she chose to be married to him i.e. does she deserve to be treated ‘less than’? Absolutely not. Does it matter if he hits her? Nope. It’s all about power. The power differential between the two is very evident by his behavior and body language.
People pointed out differences between the way the Trumps have behaved in public with former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle’s body language, which suggested a more loving equal relationship.On Inauguration Day, when the Trumps got out of their car to greet the The Obamas, Trump left Melania in the car and ascended the stairs to greet Barack and Michelle on his own.

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Communication and body language expert Susan Constantine told Mic

 “Melania is an object to [Trump],” Constantine said. “I don’t see any warmth or true love and compassion in that relationship whatsoever.”

If someone sees you as inferior, how can they ever again see you as an equal?  It just doesn’t happen. Power differentials are the reason for abusive behavior. “I am more than you… so I can do and say what I like”. Research says that you can’t get over that… look at the batterer recidivism rates for further reference.

Whether or not Donald Trump is a batterer, he does exhibit lack of regard for his wife and for women in general. People seem to be really torn about this. Is Melania an abused woman? Does she deserve what she gets because she asked for it? That goes against everything I believe in and stand for. No one ‘deserves it’. Ever. We take it for many different reasons.

We want to give people the benefit of the doubt. That their negative acts are because of outside influences; a bad day, a rough time, stress, issues… et cetera. We usually don’t seek out conflict or controversy, especially in our “close” relationships. Hell, I used to do the same with relative strangers… “Oh it’s okay. They really didn’t mean to be mean” or as I like to call it head-in-the-sand-ism. The judging of Melania needs to stop. 

Perhaps all this can be explained away with the fact that she’s now the First Lady and as we’ve seen recently, her every move will be scrutinized? Perhaps. But I doubt that’s the reason for the look on her face in the above videos. When he faces her she smiles BIG, as soon as his back is turned complete dejection. Her facial expression speaks volumes to me.

Regardless of if she’s ‘abused’ or not. She definitely doesn’t look happy. What do you think? I’d love to hear your opinion on Angie’s Facebook and Twitter!

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