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.

This article originally appeared on August 27, 2015

Oh, society! We have such a complicated relationship with relationships.

It starts early, with the movies we are plopped in front of as toddlers.

Keep Reading Show less

This article originally appeared on August 27, 2015

Oh, society! We have such a complicated relationship with relationships.

It starts early, with the movies we are plopped in front of as toddlers.

Keep Reading Show less
True

Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."