Harlem’s City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito spoke openly Thursday about sexual abuse she suffered as a child, prompted by a video released last week in which presidential candidate Donald Trump says he aggressively kisses women and grabs their genitalia.
“Between the ages by 5 and 8 I was molested by two different individuals at different points in time, and it’s a reality that you live with every day,” she said, near tears. It was her first time speaking publicly about the abuse, she said.
Mark-Viverito said that while publicly airing the experience was “very, very uncomfortable,” she felt it to be a responsibility.
“When you have an environment and a climate where you have a—what really triggered it for me was last Friday, when we heard about the tape—when you have an individual who is boasting about violating and taking from a woman something without her consent, I just couldn’t [keep it private] anymore,” she said at an unrelated press conference at City Hall. “And to have someone laughing and goading it and enabling it—it was very painful for me and it triggered things that I haven’t felt in a long time.”
Mark-Viverito, a Democrat and supporter of Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton, has pulled no punches on Trump in the past, blasting his comments as racist and saying his plans to deport immigrants would result in a “reign of terror.”
But after the tape of Trump bragging in 2005 came out Oct. 7, the speaker tweeted: “This one … it’s personal.” As survivors of sexual assault and abuse flooded social media with their stories, five women went to the media with accounts of misconduct by Trump years ago.