Trump Tweets, then Trolls Do the Rest

In October 2015, Lauren Batchelder, a student at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, attended a bipartisan political forum and asked Donald Trump, then merely another presidential candidate, what he would do for American women. Their exchange made headlines around the nation.

“So, maybe I’m wrong, maybe you can prove me wrong. But I don’t think you’re a friend to women,” she said.

Trump got defensive. He said he gave women positions of power at his construction sites “many years ago… before anyone would have even thought” to do so. He complimented his wife, his eldest daughter, and his mother, who he said, “was one of the great people of the world.” He stressed this even more, saying, “I love women, I respect women, I cherish women.” (A year later, Trump would become besieged by accusations from more than a dozen women who would step forward publicly to challenge Trump’s statement at the second presidential debate that he did not kiss or grab women as he had boasted on a leaked Access Hollywood tape from 2005.)

Batchelder, noticeably dissatisfied with the now president-elect’s response, asked for the microphone again.

BATCHELDER: I want to get paid the same as a man, and I think you understand that, so if you become president, will a woman make the same as a man, and do I get to choose what I do with my body?

TRUMP: You’re going to make the same if you do as good of a job, and I happen to be pro-life, okay?

Later that evening, Trump’s social media director tweeted out screengrabs of Batchelder’s social media accounts. Trump supporters found a resume indicating that Batchelder had worked as an intern for ex-Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign. Her Twitter feed contained pro-Bush tweets. Daniel Scavino Jr., a senior adviser to Trump, accused Bush of having “planted” an intern at the event. Conservative websites began running the story.

But for Batchelder, the trouble began when Trump weighed in the following morning.

According to Allie Brandenburger, a spokeswoman for Bush’s campaign, Batchelder is not a paid staff member; she attended the convention of her volition. “While this question was not sanctioned by the campaign,” she wrote in an email the following morning, “we can’t help but notice Mr. Trump does seem to be very sensitive about being challenged by women.”

Tim Miller, Bush’s former spokesman, also weighed in, saying that the campaign had nothing to do with Batchelder asking her question. In fact, Miller said, “If I was going to plant a question, I would have planted a better question.”

Batchelder agreed. “Why would they ever send me out to do a pro-choice question? Guys, [Bush] is pro-life, which was one of my biggest problems with the Republican Party. And so I was like: ‘Why would they ever send me to do that?’” (Batchelder decided to volunteer for Bush’s campaign during her first semester at St. Anselm, and said that she saw volunteering as an opportunity to learn more about the Republican Party; her views, she says, are far more liberal. She listed her intern experience on her online resume, and later decided that she leans more to the left.)

Credit: Source.

Batchelder became the target of online trolls, who shamed and attacked her in numerous ways. Trolls commented on her physical appearance. Others threatened to rape her and subject her to physical violence. A photoshopped picture of her made the rounds online, showing her face covered in semen. The harassment continues more than a year later. Five days before Election Day, Batchelder received a threatening Facebook message:

Wishing I could f—ing punch you in the face. id then proceed to stomp your head on the curb and urinate in your bloodied mouth and i know where you live, so watch your f—ing back punk.

“I didn’t really know what anyone was going to do,” said Batchelder, now 19, who has never spoken about her experience publicly until now. “He was only going to tweet about it and that was it, but I didn’t really know what his supporters were going to do, and that to me was the scariest part… I love social media, but I also saw the terrible side of social media. I definitely tried to focus on something else because when you’re seeing your life being played out in front of you and people are judging it and people are making assumptions about you, you kind of just want to stay away.”

Batchelder acknowledged that speaking out would likely open her up to more abuse, but said that she thinks

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