A women who sued President Donald Trump for allegedly forcibly kissing her while she worked on his 2016 presidential campaign told Teen Vogue he is “normalizing” the concept of sexual assault.
Alva Johnson has earned kudos for refusing to be silent despite having signed a non-disclosure agreement, as Trump demands many people in his orbit do. She says Trump’s behavior with her on the campaign trail was evidence that he hadn’t left behind the non-consensual misconduct he once bragged about on the infamous Access Hollywood tape. On that tape, Trump claimed he regularly kissed women and even grabbed them by their genitals without consent.
Johnson has also alleged that the campaign committed “racial and gender discrimination” by paying her significantly less than white male staffers in similar roles.
“It seems right now we’re going backward,” Johnson told Teen Vogue. “This wasn’t appropriate for a long time. Now the most powerful man in the world is making fun of people who are coming forward [about sexual abuse], calling them liars even though their stories are so consistent. Knowing it wasn’t past behavior from 8 or 10 years ago. It was very recent with me. I feel like it’s something that’s necessary. Sometimes things that are necessary aren’t easy.”
Women, Johnson said, continue to face harassment and discrimination in the workplace, as her case shows. As a mother, she added, she felt the need to set an example for her daughter and other young women about not tolerating abusive behavior from anyone, no matter how powerful they might seem.
“Winning my lawsuit would be ideal, but making the difference and making the change and not keeping my mouth shut [is my goal],” she explained. “I think about what I would say to my daughter: You are smart enough to be taken seriously for your job. Perform well and set your boundaries. Even when you set very clear boundaries, you have to be not afraid to defend yourself. It’s not being afraid to have that seat at the table and demand your worth. Be bold, be strong, and that’s it.”
Read the full story at Teen Vogue.