Writers aren't necessarily used to being the subject of stories since their job is to tell others' stories. But a rare set of circumstances (read: this ridiculous 2016 election) has provoked one writer to step forward and into the headlines. After her compelling story she wrote on Oct. 12, former People writer Natasha Stoynoff spoke on camera about Donald Trump allegedly assaulting her, and she has an important message to share about taking sexual assault seriously. Trump has denied Stoynoff's allegations.
Stoynoff has been in the spotlight since she wrote a story detailing her account of an alleged sexual assault by Trump over a decade ago while she was on assignment for People. Since coming forward with her claims, Stoynoff has been attacked by the Republican presidential candidate, who indicated that the writer was not attractive enough for him to have done or said such things. Spokespeople for Trump have also denied the incident took place. (People tracked down six people who corroborated Stoynoff's claims.)
So it's admirable, then, that in the face of all of this, Stoynoff agreed to an on-camera interview with People Editor-In-Chief Jess Cagle. And in the interview, she's speaking not just for herself, but for all women:
"When I saw him at the debate and Anderson Cooper asked him, 'Have you ever kissed a woman without consent,' and he said no, I just think all of those feelings rushed back to me. Especially anger. It pressed a button," Stoynoff told Cagle in the sit-down. "I felt like it was my responsibility to write something at that point."
Part of the responsibility, it seems, comes from sharing her experience and encouraging other women to come forward with their own. "I wanted to talk to the women of this country and of this world. And one issue that has been talked about all week is the issue of women speaking out," Stoynoff said. "I wrote that story, but I wasn't brave enough yet to be on camera. And I wanted to show all of the women who wrote to me that I could be brave enough to do it, because I feel like if I am brave enough to do this here, maybe they will be brave enough, too."
Stoynoff also addressed Trump's personal attacks, saying that though she didn't take offense to the insults about her appearance, she's afraid of the effect that might have on a broader scale:
I don't really care if he finds me attractive or not. I would actually rather he doesn't find me attractive. He apparently found me attractive enough 11 years ago. But I don't take that as insulting in a personal way. I do take that as an insult to other women. To all women, but especially to women who have been severely sexually assaulted. I think that's he's saying there that only pretty women get assaulted. No man of dignity we speak in such a way.
In 2005 Stoynoff traveled to Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach to interview Trump and his wife, Melania, as part of a profile about the couple's first wedding anniversary. Stoynoff alleged that when a very-pregnant Melania went upstairs to change wardrobe, Trump gave her a tour of the mansion. During the tour, Stoynoff alleged that Trump shoved her up against a wall and began kissing her. Stoynoff said that later, while she waited for Melania to join them for an interview, Trump insisted that they would have an affair. Trump has continued to deny all of these allegations, saying they never happened.
Stoynoff kept this story quiet until Oct. 12, confiding to only a handful of people who include friends, family, and colleagues. But after speaking out, she said that hundreds of women — mostly strangers — reached out to offer their support. Her interview with People only reinforces the powerful things that can be done when women support each other.
Images: People.com (1)