For millions of Americans and nervous election viewers around the world, the month of November has been a seesaw of emotions. Tentatively able to glimpse a life outside of Trump’s shadow, many were finally able to name the mental, emotional and physical toll the last four years have taken on them, reflecting on the feelings of depression, insomnia, restlessness and anxiety that, for them, have defined. the president’s term in office for many.
Emboldened by the promise that in a few months they would no longer have to live in fear of a tweet threatening national security or a Fox News-induced collapse, millions of people are beginning to process their feelings.
On Twitter, actress Lauren Holly regretted: “I will still have to calm down for months to get over my Trump trauma.” Writer and cybersecurity expert Rodney Caston was more blunt, tweeting: “Like it or not, we are all caught in an abusive relationship with Trump right now.” The sentiment was so popular that the hashtag #trumptrauma was trending for days.
Certainly, there are many parallels between the end of Donald Trump’s presidency and a psychologically violent relationship. Think of temper tantrums, refusal to accept reality, mood swings, fear of retaliation, and a sense of impending danger – all are hallmarks of controlling and abusive behavior.
Farrah Khan is an expert on gender violence and a member of the Government of Canada. Advisory Council on the Strategy to prevent and address gender violence – and echoes how Trump’s time in office often reflects domestic violence.
“During his time in office, Trump disparaged communities, enacted state violence through policy, acted vindictively when he felt despised, and cut off access to supports or protections, isolating communities from one another,” I He says. “I feel like under Trump many of us had a collective hypervigilance and anxiety about what he might do next. This has shown up in things like night terrors or constantly scrolling on social media looking for real or perceived threats from him to his community. “
One of the most common ways for an abuser to exercise control is through isolation, alienating their partners from the support of their communities and loved ones. Through his most despicable policies on issues like race, immigration, and LGBTQ + rights, it can be argued that Trump has pitted Americans against each other, sowing discord and creating divisions that alienate his supporters from their family and friends.
For years, Trump has managed to isolate his most fervent followers from reality, creating a parallel Maga world where Covid-19 is little more than a hoax, mail-in ballots don’t count (unless they do), and behind every pizzeria. lurks. a pedophile ring. And like many coercive partners, Trump refuses to let him go.
Like many, Khan’s immediate reaction on election night was one of suspicion and concern. She wrote that “the most dangerous time in a violent relationship is when you leave.” He is still concerned that Trump’s violent rhetoric is increasing rather than declining. “As someone who works with survivors of domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence on a daily basis, I know that the risk of violence is often higher during the period of separation. The people who cause harm will use everything in their power, from coercive threats, lies or pleading to force the couple to stay, ”he says.
Those are not words normally attributed to the transition of power from one US president to another, but prophetic given the long and increasingly futile legal battle that Trump continues to wage in hopes of denying the reality of his loss. and his increasingly tenuous grip on power. In a recent Guardian article about his increasingly unhinged behavior, Larry Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Policy and Governance at the University of Minnesota, said: “This behavior is even more erratic than usual and is has scrapped. It has been put into a form of psychological isolation. His emotional state is clearly abysmal. “
Breaking up with an abusive person is disconcerting – they leave little room to breathe or to imagine a life without them. The fear they instill is bound to undermine your sense of self, your sense of security, and your connection to the world around you. They erode your trust in your community and the institutions designed to keep you safe in an effort to bond with you. They normalize violence.
But in fact there is life on the other side. So how do we unpack these past four years and take into account the scars this presidency has left on our collective psyche?
Khan suggests facing the harm head-on: “Go to therapy: understand that trauma can result from community violence, state violence, and interpersonal violence. You are not alone and there is nothing to be ashamed of. “
Trump can see that his grip on the American people is diminishing and therefore continues to attack, but whether he chooses to accept it or not, this relationship is over.
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.