In the White House’s most recent scandal, a political aide serving under Chief of Staff John Kelly resigned after accusations of physical and emotional abuse surfaced from both of his ex-wives. Rob Porter, the man in question, enjoyed support from his colleagues in the White House, namely President Trump, who stated, “we wish him well.” Adding to the complexity of the issue is Porter’s ongoing relationship with White House Communications Director, Hope Hicks.
One of Mr. Porter’s ex-wives, Colbie Holderness, published an op-ed on Tuesday detailing her and Jennifer Willoughby’s experiences with their shared ex-husband. Holderness describes patterns of varying abuse that created an environment in which she lived in constant fear of her husband’s unpredictability. Holderness and Willoughby separately had a hard time finding people who would believe or listen to them.
She writes that they both raised their cases “with clergy,” but found that they did not “fully address the abuse taking place.” Only once Holderness spoke “to a professional counselor” did someone actually believe her.
In an interview with CNN, Kellyanne Conway told reporters that she does not fear for Ms. Hicks wellbeing during her relationship with Mr. Porter because she’s “rarely met somebody so strong with such excellent instincts and loyalty and smarts.” Holderness views Conway’s comments as asserting that only weak people find themselves in abusive relationships, and that she begs to differ.
Holderness describes Conway’s faith in Hicks and Porter’s relationship as a rebuff against abused women and the “Me Too” movement as a whole. “Recognizing and surviving in an abusive relationship take strength,” Holderness writes. While she “cannot say [she’s] surprised” about Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ refusal to say whether or not Mr. Trump believe Mr. Porter’s ex-wives. She does however concede to agree with Ms. Conway on one point: “There’s a stigma and a silence surrounding all these issues. . . . Those who are in a position to do something about it ought to.”