We need to talk about what Natasha Stoynoff says Trump did the day after assaulting her.

In the early 2000s, People magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff was assigned to cover all things Donald Trump.

It was the height of Trump's "Apprentice" popularity, and Stoynoff was along for the ride. She conducted multiple interviews with Trump, attended his wedding to Melania Knauss, and tracked the success of the show.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.


On Oct. 12, 2016, Stoynoff published a story in which she stated that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her during an interview in 2005.  

It was the same year as the now-infamous hot mic recorded conversation between Trump and Billy Bush. Stoynoff writes that Trump led her to a room alone, where he suddenly pinned her to a wall and kissed her.

"We’re going to have an affair, I’m telling you," she says Trump told her.

The story is one of many allegations recently made against the Republican presidential nominee. Each story that comes out — and there will probably be more as the election gets closer — is deeply troubling on its own, even more so when considered together.

But there's one part of Stoynoff's story that hasn't gotten the same attention that her description of the physical assault has — and it points to a disturbing tactic often used by abusers.

It's what she says Donald Trump did the next day:

"Earlier in my trip, I had tried to arrange a session at Mar-a-Lago’s spa for my chronic neck problem — the spa was part of a private resort separate from the Trump residence — but they were booked up. Trump had gotten wind of that before the interview and called himself, asking the top massage therapist if he would come in extra early to see me, as a favor to him."

The ballroom at Trump's Mar-a-Lago club and resort. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

After arriving at the spa late, Stoynoff says, the massage therapist told her that Trump had shown up to her massage appointment and had waited for her for 15 minutes before he had to leave to attend a meeting.

Stoynoff writes of her reeling thoughts:

"I lay on the massage table, but my eyes were on the doorknob the entire time. He’s going to show up and [the massage therapist is] going to let him in with me half-naked on a table. I cut the session short, got dressed and left for the airport."

What's so deeply unsettling about this part of Stoynoff's story is that reflects how abusers exercise power over others without even being in the same room as them.

Most of the conversation around Trump's treatment of women in the wake of the leaked hot mic moment has been about the physical allegations against the candidate, especially as more women come forward (Stoynoff included) with stories demonstrating the behavior he describes on the tape.

What's less talked about is the insidious way in which abusers actually plan their attacks, unprovoked though they may seem at the time, and use their status to create a sense of utter helplessness in those they subjugate.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

"In order to assault someone ... they must be manipulated in some way, and that manipulation implies the use of power," William Flack Jr., associate professor at Bucknell University's Department of Psychology, wrote in an email, explaining how perpetrators of sexual assault use power and manipulation to their advantage.

Stoynoff was just a reporter trying to do her job when Donald Trump — a man who wields a lot of social power and influence — allegedly assaulted her. The next day, all she wanted was a massage for her aching neck and to go home quietly.

For Trump to find out that Stoynoff hadn't been able to set up a massage appointment and then set it for her despite the spa being booked wasn't necessarily a kind gesture on his part — it was also likely a display of power. Trump was letting her know that he called the shots, that he knew where she would be, and that as long as she was on his property, she had no expectation of privacy.

The power that abusers use is not always physical.

In the case of Stoynoff's experience, Trump used his power to remain at the forefront of her thoughts and fears. Instead of having a private moment to herself to enjoy her massage, she remained fearful of what might come through that door.

"Someone who has been assaulted can certainly fear their perpetrator, and act on that fear, regardless of the perpetrator's location," explained Flack.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Showing up at Stoynoff's massage appointment without warning is an eerie parallel to the story Trump told Howard Stern in 2005 about walking through the dressing rooms at his pageants while the contestants were changing. "I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it," Trump said.

Replace "pageant" with "Mar-a-Lago" and you can see why Stoynoff knew she couldn't rely on the massage therapist to keep Trump out if he showed up and demanded to be let in — even if she said she didn't want him there.

Upon returning home, Stoynoff filed her story about his marriage and immediately left the Trump beat behind.

As for why Stoynoff didn't come forward with her story earlier?

Just look at how Donald Trump reacted to it, even with the hot mic tape leaked and at least half a dozen other women accusing him of the same behavior:

At a rally in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Oct. 13, Donald Trump denied the allegations against him and slammed the various news sources reporting them. There was even a victim-blaming hashtag to go along with the whole thing.

If Stoynoff had come forward in 2005, with none of the present evidence, none of the other survivors sharing their stories, and at the height of Trump's "Apprentice" power and influence, she likely would have faced even more denial and victim-blaming than she is now. You probably never would have heard her name — or her story — again.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

It is incredibly brave of Stoynoff and all these other women to come forward now, with the election just a few weeks away.

Sexual assault and rape are not about sex. They're about about power. When your first instinct is to cast doubt on the accusers and side with the accused — without question — that gives the perpetrator more of an excuse to abuse that power to keep their victim from speaking out against them.

When Trump says Stoynoff and the other women accusing him of assault should have come forward years ago with their claims — and that they didn't is a sign that they're lying — he is exerting his power and status as a presidential candidate, a wealthy businessman, and a celebrity to try to keep them quiet and keep his supporters doubting them.

As more women come forward with stories alleging Donald Trump assaulted them or demeaned them, remember that these women have nothing to gain by making these accusations.

Remember that these women are being viciously attacked and blamed for sharing parts of their lives about which they have likely felt deeply ashamed. And remember to err on the side of trusting them. To do otherwise is to trust a man who has bragged about this behavior on tape and give him a shield behind which he could continue to abuse and assault even more women in the future.

Standing with Trump's accusers means you have seen an injustice and want to fight it — with your belief, your words of support, and your vote.

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Judy Vaughan has spent most of her life helping other women, first as the director of House of Ruth, a safe haven for homeless families in East Los Angeles, and later as the Project Coordinator for Women for Guatemala, a solidarity organization committed to raising awareness about human rights abuses.

But in 1996, she decided to take things a step further. A house became available in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and she was offered the opportunity to use it to help other women and children. So, in partnership with a group of 13 people who she knew from her years of activism, she decided to make it a transitional residence program for homeless women and their children. They called the program Alexandria House.

"I had learned from House of Ruth that families who are homeless are often isolated from the surrounding community," Judy says. "So we decided that as part of our mission, we would also be a neighborhood center and offer a number of resources and programs, including an after-school program and ESL classes."

She also decided that, unlike many other shelters in Los Angeles, she would accept mothers with their teenage boys.

"There are very few in Los Angeles [that do] due to what are considered liability issues," Judy explains. "Given the fact that there are (conservatively) 56,000 homeless people and only about 11,000 shelter beds on any one night, agencies can be selective on who they take."

Their Board of Directors had already determined that they should take families that would have difficulties finding a place. Some of these challenges include families with more than two children, immigrant families without legal documents, moms who are pregnant with other small children, families with a member who has a disability [and] families with service dogs.

"Being separated from your son or sons, especially in the early teen years, just adds to the stress that moms who are unhoused are already experiencing," Judy says.

"We were determined to offer women with teenage boys another choice."

Courtesy of Judy Vaughan

Alexandria House also doesn't kick boys out when they turn 18. For example, Judy says they currently have a mom with two daughters (21 and 2) and a son who just turned 18. The family had struggled to find a shelter that would take them all together, and once they found Alexandria House, they worried the boy would be kicked out on his 18th birthday. But, says Judy, "we were not going to ask him to leave because of his age."

Homelessness is a big issue in Los Angeles. "[It] is considered the homeless capital of the United States," Judy says. "The numbers have not changed significantly since 1984 when I was working at the House of Ruth." The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), over 66,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area were experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a rise of 12.7% compared with the year before.

Each woman who comes to Alexandria House has her own unique story, but some common reasons for ending up homeless include fleeing from a domestic violence or human trafficking situation, aging out of foster care and having no place to go, being priced out of an apartment, losing a job, or experiencing a family emergency with no 'cushion' to pay the rent.

"Homelessness is not a definition; it is a situation that a person finds themselves in, and in fact, it can happen to almost anyone. There are many practices and policies that make it almost impossible to break out of poverty and move out of homelessness."

And that's why Alexandria House exists: to help them move out of it. How long that takes depends on the woman, but according to Judy, families stay an average of 10 months. During that time, the women meet with support staff to identify needs and goals and put a plan of action in place.

A number of services are provided, including free childcare, programs and mentoring for school-age children, free mental health counseling, financial literacy classes and a savings program. They have also started Step Up Sisterhood LA, an entrepreneurial program to support women's dreams of starting their own businesses. "We serve as a support system for as long as a family would like," Judy says, even after they have moved on.

And so far, the program is a resounding success.

92 percent of the 200 families who stayed at Alexandria House have found financial stability and permanent housing — not becoming homeless again.

Since founding Alexandria House 25 years ago, Judy has never lost sight of her mission to join with others and create a vision of a more just society and community. That is why she is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year — and the donation she receives as a nominee will go to Alexandria House and will help grow the new Start-up Sisterhood LA program.

"Alexandria House is such an important part of my life," says Judy. "It has been amazing to watch the children grow up and the moms recreate their lives for themselves and for their families. I have witnessed resiliency, courage, and heroic acts of generosity."

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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