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The real conversations people are having about the election

It feels like this election is bringing up so many topics that we have our own stories about—not only assault, but also how we’ve lived with sexism and racism.

As reported in The New York Times, the accusations made against Donald Trump by several women have prompted many others to tell their partners about their own sexual assault and harassment histories.

We asked women what experiences this election had caused them to think about, relive, or share with their loved ones. This is what they said.

Every single woman I know, including myself, can remember the first time she was touched or spoken to by a man in a sexually inappropriate way. For me, it was my upstairs neighbor who locked the elevator one day when we were alone and fondled me. I was 8 or 9. My friend Judy was at the bus stop on 14th street. She was 11.Women learn to navigate the world around men. We walk around them instead of into them on the street, since they usually won’t move. We avoid being on elevators alone with men we don’t know. We keep an eye and feelers out on crowded subways to avoid that boob or butt grab that men pretend happened accidentally. And we have whole communications network in place when we go on dates, so we come home alive and unscathed.This election is bringing all of this up again because we all know men like Donald Trump, who think they are so rich and powerful that they can do what they want. And we all remember when we first had to deal with sexual assault.” — Lynda Lippin

I’m discussing the election with my teenage daughters. It’s not so much what I have to say to them, but rather what I’m hearing them say. They have strong feelings, even though they may not fully understand the complexity of all the issues. It’s been great to hear them start developing their own viewpoints, and I’ll watch closely as their opinions evolve as they better understand the world around them. I may not always agree with them, but I’m looking for minds at work.” — Susan Jensen

The morning I heard the recording of Trump’s conversation with Billy Bush, I stopped dead in my tracks and didn’t regain full composure for two days. It was like a scab had been ripped off a third-degree burn, It brought back every single minute of both the times my ex-husband raped me. It reminded me of the fact that he “offered” me to another man and did everything in his power to convince me to let him watch while I had sex with his friend. I wanted to vomit.” — Trease Shine Hinton

The weekend after the infamous Trump video was released I had a lengthy conversation with my much-older fiancee regarding misogyny and the pervasive rape culture. It took a good couple of hours back and forth, gently yet relentlessly, explaining the plight of women. It was only when I brought up a situation in which he had been embarrassed and humiliated that my sweetheart finally understood what we as women go through almost every single day. It’s not a complete win as two weeks after that conversation I”m still having to clarify and explain, but….it’s a start.” – Stacy Millican

More: What women still need to hear from Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

It’s uncomfortable. I called out a male friend because he insisted Bill Clinton’s accusers were “doing favors” for him and were opportunists. I shut him down saying I guess I should feel ‘lucky’ I was assaulted by a non-rich person because then I’d have a rep as a golddigger too. That ended that conversation.” – Tina Bassett

What I have discussed is voting for the lesser of two evils. I voted for Hilary however I do not care for either candidate professionally or personally. After society rightfully hanged Bill Cosby out to dry for his wrongdoing, it amazes me that Trump has gotten this far. But with Hilary excusing/accepting Bill’s sexual behavior it amazes me she can criticize Trump.” — Kimberly Wright

The treatment of women in this election as it relates to harassment, consent and abuse has made me revisit some ugly instances in my past including: a college professor whose behavior was wildly inappropriate and made me uncomfortable, the ex boyfriend who was mentally and emotionally abusive, and all the times in my life i’ve felt demeaned and mistreated simply because I’m a woman. It’s SUCH an important topic to discuss and have an open dialogue about; especially for our younger generations.” — Ali Arnone

This election is forcing me to have more candid conversations with my sons about sexual harassment, ‘boy talk’ and how people react to the allegations against Trump.” — Crysta Icore

I’ve been looking more closely at sexual-harassment and how often it happens. I’ve had several conversations with my boyfriend about it and it’s been helpful to him to see it from a woman’s perspective. For example, recently while running at 10 AM someone pulled up and tried to pick me up for prostitution. It is absolutely ridiculous how often these things happen, how it’s impossible to be taken seriously when it’s reported and how men do not understand how disrespectful they are. I feel like I want to world to know it’s not okay the way women are treated, but I also feel helpless and am curious how much my effort would impact society, if at all.” — Sarah Lu Howard

Earlier in the election I wrote a blog post immediately following the clash between two members of Black Lives Matter and Bernie Sanders. When it came to racism, non-black allies were learning ways to offer more effective support. Many of us were mourning and supporting one another through a tragic wave of the killing of unarmed black people by police officers. It just so happened that I was on social media that night and experienced some of the cruel backlash. The timing couldn’t have been worse.”  – Tonya GJ Prince

The many instances of unwanted sexual advances, touch and even assault have bubbled up for me. I’m sharing these experiences with my husband for the first time, because I historically categorized them as banal/commonplace. I’m also sharing experiences with my female friends, many of whom I’ve been friends with for years, yet we’ve never discussed sexual assault in the past.” – Shannon Gaggero

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