search
Sections List
American Journal News

Kellyanne Conway uses her own assault story to attack other victims

Kellyanne Conway just came out publicly as a survivor of sexual assault. She deserves to be believed — but she doesn’t have the right to use her story as a weapon against other survivors.

By Emily Crockett - October 01, 2018
Share
Kellyanne Conway

For the first time, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway has disclosed publicly that she is a survivor of sexual assault. Conway made the startling admission to host Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday morning.

“I feel very empathetic, frankly, for victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment and rape,” Conway said during a discussion of the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Then she paused, cleared her throat, and added: “I’m a victim of sexual assault.”

But then her admission took a sudden, strange, disturbingly victim-blaming turn.

“I don’t expect Judge Kavanaugh or Jake Tapper or Jeff Flake or anybody to be held responsible for that,” Conway added. ‘You have to be responsible for your own conduct.”

It wasn’t clear exactly which “conduct” Conway felt she and other survivors must hold themselves “responsible” for.

But it sure sounded like Conway was suggesting that victims are partly to blame for their own assaults — or perhaps that victims are a burden to others when they go public with their claims.

It was a jarring comment, but Conway still had a lot more to say.

After angrily digressing on Bill Cosby, Bill Clinton, and “partisan politics,” Conway elaborated a bit more on the idea of responsibility.

“I want those women who — who were sexually assaulted the other day who were confronting Jeff Flake — God bless them, but go blame the perpetrator,” Conway said. “That is who is responsible for a sexual assault, the people who commit them.”

This time, at least, Conway made clear that perpetrators and not victims are the ones “responsible” for sexual assault.

But she also made clear that she doesn’t think victims should be bothering anybody except their own rapists in order to seek justice or push for social change — especially not prominent men who could actually do something about it like Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ).

This is a terrible, hurtful thing to say to survivors. Like every other citizen, victims of sexual assault have the right to express their grievances to their elected officials and demand change.

And no survivor is obligated to expose herself to the trauma of personally confronting her attacker in order to have her allegations taken seriously.

Conway made several other troubling, victim-blaming remarks, both before and after disclosing her own assault.

Earlier in the interview, Conway tried to cast doubt on the story of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school, without making it seem like she was overtly disrespecting Ford.

Tapper asked Conway about Trump’s claims that Ford seemed like a “fine woman” and a “credible witness.”

“But credible means believable,” Tapper pointed out. “That’s the definition of credible. Does President Trump believe her?”

“Credible and compelling is — are words that many of us have used to describe her testimony,” Conway hedged. “But she also does — she also didn’t corroborate her testimony. The people that she said were at the party said that they weren’t, that this didn’t happen.”

As Tapper pointed out, that’s not accurate. Two of the alleged attendees said they had no memory of the party, but they didn’t deny that it happened.

Later, after Conway mentioned her own assault, Tapper interjected to express sympathy for what Conway went through.

He also tried to ask a difficult, but relevant, question: How does Conway, as a survivor, deal with working for Trump — who has been accused of sexually assaulting or harassing nearly two dozen women, and who has called all of those women liars?

Conway, who had just gotten through admonishing victims to “blame the perpetrator,” immediately shut down the idea of extending that logic to Trump.

“Don’t conflate that with this, and certainly don’t conflate it with what happened to me,” Conway replied harshly. “It would be a huge mistake, Jake.”

And toward the end of the interview, Conway went on another tangent about how — despite all evidence to the contrary — she thinks it’s much too easy for innocent men to randomly have their lives destroyed over false rape allegations, and that she worries about having to discuss this with her almost 14-year-old son.

“This is Judge Kavanaugh now. It could be anybody by next week,” Conway said. “Respectfully, it could be any man in any position now. What would be the defense?”

“But is that the conversation you’re having with your son?” Tapper countered. “Because the conversation I’m having with my son — .”

“No, that’s not the conversation I’m having with my son,” Conway admitted. She didn’t elaborate on what conversation she is having with her son about all of this.

As a survivor of sexual assault, Conway deserves to be believed. She doesn’t deserve to be second-guessed about her experience. She doesn’t deserve to be judged for whether, when, or to whom she chose to report her assault. And she doesn’t deserve to be judged for staying silent about it publicly until now.

But other survivors also don’t deserve to be treated like Conway, and her boss, are treating them.

The survivors who confronted Flake, because they believe a vote for Kavanaugh is an insult to survivors everywhere, don’t deserve to be told to sit down and shut up unless they’re confronting their own rapist.

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford doesn’t deserve to have Trump patronizingly call her “credible,” only to have his spokeswoman dismiss her story as unsubstantiated and unworthy of belief.

The many women who say Trump sexually assaulted them don’t deserve to have another survivor’s story weaponized against them.

And no survivor anywhere deserves to hear another word from anyone — especially a fellow survivor — that tries to justify putting men’s comfort and men’s careers ahead of women’s safety and women’s lives.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation. 


Read More
AJ News
Latest
Ted Cruz leverages Trump conviction on podcast for own personal gain

Ted Cruz leverages Trump conviction on podcast for own personal gain

By Jesse Valentine - June 11, 2024
Arizona Republican Kari Lake proposes massive cuts to Medicaid and Medicare

Arizona Republican Kari Lake proposes massive cuts to Medicaid and Medicare

By Jesse Valentine - June 10, 2024
Virginia U.S. Senate candidate Hung Cao says workplace diversity is ‘Marxism’

Virginia U.S. Senate candidate Hung Cao says workplace diversity is ‘Marxism’

By Jesse Valentine - June 06, 2024
Republican Bernie Moreno’s rags-to-riches story exposed as a lie

Republican Bernie Moreno’s rags-to-riches story exposed as a lie

By Jesse Valentine - May 24, 2024
What happens to clinics after a state bans abortion? They fight to survive.

What happens to clinics after a state bans abortion? They fight to survive.

By Chabeli Carrazana and Shefali Luthra - May 22, 2024
Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte took job at Caterpillar after tax fraud probe

Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte took job at Caterpillar after tax fraud probe

By Jesse Valentine - May 21, 2024
Alabama OB-GYN residencies dropped over 20% after Dobbs, state abortion ban, says analysis

Alabama OB-GYN residencies dropped over 20% after Dobbs, state abortion ban, says analysis

By Alander Rocha, Alabama Reflector - May 21, 2024
House GOP celebrates National Police Week while pushing to defund local law enforcement

House GOP celebrates National Police Week while pushing to defund local law enforcement

By Jesse Valentine - May 16, 2024
Evolution denier Mark Robinson could reshape North Carolina’s education system

Evolution denier Mark Robinson could reshape North Carolina’s education system

By Jesse Valentine - May 16, 2024
Republican Jay Ashcroft backs anti-abortion clinics that push lies and disinformation

Republican Jay Ashcroft backs anti-abortion clinics that push lies and disinformation

By Jesse Valentine - May 14, 2024
Republican Sam Brown’s assault on teacher unions could backfire

Republican Sam Brown’s assault on teacher unions could backfire

By Jesse Valentine - May 09, 2024
Florida abortion ban puts GOP Rep. Anna Paulina Luna’s anti-choice views in spotlight

Florida abortion ban puts GOP Rep. Anna Paulina Luna’s anti-choice views in spotlight

By Jesse Valentine - May 07, 2024
Trump leaves door open to banning medication abortion nationwide

Trump leaves door open to banning medication abortion nationwide

By Jennifer Shutt, States Newsroom - April 30, 2024
Republican Caroleene Dobson wants Alabama abortion ban to go nationwide

Republican Caroleene Dobson wants Alabama abortion ban to go nationwide

By Jesse Valentine - April 30, 2024
Ohio Gov. DeWine said he didn’t know of millions in FirstEnergy support. Is it plausible?

Ohio Gov. DeWine said he didn’t know of millions in FirstEnergy support. Is it plausible?

By Marty Schladen, Ohio Capital Journal - April 29, 2024
GOP Rep. Zach Nunn suggests laws against hate crime aren’t needed

GOP Rep. Zach Nunn suggests laws against hate crime aren’t needed

By Jesse Valentine - April 15, 2024
GOP Senate candidate Hung Cao blames racial equity for Baltimore bridge tragedy

GOP Senate candidate Hung Cao blames racial equity for Baltimore bridge tragedy

By Jesse Valentine - March 29, 2024
GOP Rep. Jennifer Kiggans donates thousands to far-right extremists

GOP Rep. Jennifer Kiggans donates thousands to far-right extremists

By Jesse Valentine - March 08, 2024
Ohio senate candidate Bernie Moreno: “Absolute pro-life no exceptions.”

Ohio senate candidate Bernie Moreno: “Absolute pro-life no exceptions.”

By Jesse Valentine - March 07, 2024
Anti-China Republicans pocket thousands from Chinese owned conglomerate

Anti-China Republicans pocket thousands from Chinese owned conglomerate

By Jesse Valentine - March 04, 2024
Republican Eric Hovde makes inconsistent statements about family history

Republican Eric Hovde makes inconsistent statements about family history

By Jesse Valentine - February 26, 2024
Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

By Jesse Valentine - February 09, 2024
Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

By Annmarie Timmins, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 31, 2024
UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

By Ashley Murray, States Newsroom - January 24, 2024
Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

By Jesse Valentine - January 17, 2024
A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

By Bonnie Fuller - January 10, 2024
Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

By Danielle J. Brown, Maryland Matters - January 08, 2024
How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

By Jesse Valentine - January 05, 2024
NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

By Ethan DeWitt, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 04, 2024
Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

By Jesse Valentine - December 22, 2023
Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

By - December 15, 2023
Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

By Jesse Valentine - December 08, 2023
Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

By Jesse Valentine - December 07, 2023
Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

By Anna Liz Nichols, Michigan Advance - December 06, 2023
105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

By Jesse Valentine - December 05, 2023
For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - December 04, 2023
Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - November 30, 2023
Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

By Jesse Valentine - November 06, 2023
Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

By Jesse Valentine - November 03, 2023
Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

By Adam Ganucheau, Mississippi Today - October 24, 2023
Judge strikes down Florida gender-affirming care restrictions for minors and adults

Judge strikes down Florida gender-affirming care restrictions for minors and adults

By Orion Rummler, Louisiana Illuminator - June 12, 2024
‘We need something that works’: Activists call for more resources for gun violence prevention

‘We need something that works’: Activists call for more resources for gun violence prevention

By Lucy Valeski, Michigan Advance - June 07, 2024
‘Democracy begins with each of us,’ Biden says at site of D-Day invasion in Normandy

‘Democracy begins with each of us,’ Biden says at site of D-Day invasion in Normandy

By Jennifer Shutt, States Newsroom - June 07, 2024
Nessel, House LGBTQ+ Caucus warn that Trump and GOP endanger hard-fought rights 

Nessel, House LGBTQ+ Caucus warn that Trump and GOP endanger hard-fought rights 

By Jon King, Michigan Advance - June 06, 2024