‘Trauma as his shield’: Cuomo’s apology, defense criticized

NEW YORK – He mentioned his actions had been misconstrued, his phrases misunderstood. He reported it was cultural: He hugs, he kisses, he states “Ciao, bella.” He said it was generational: Often he lapses into “honey” or “sweetheart” or tells bad jokes.

But of all New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s responses to investigative results that he sexually harassed 11 girls, one that most disturbed many women — notably sexual assault survivors and their advocates — was his use of a household member’s sexual assault to make clear his possess behavior with an accuser.

“We will not be moved by Governor Cuomo’s tries to use the tales of survivors, like people he harassed, as a protect for his own misconduct and abuse of electricity all whilst declaring the harassment was a ‘misunderstanding,’” claimed an open up letter to be released Thursday by the Nationwide Women’s Legislation Middle and quite a few gender and survivor teams, demanding the Democratic governor’s resignation or removal.


Tarana Burke, the survivor and advocate who gave the #MeToo movement its name, wrote in an electronic mail to The Connected Press that “abusers, no matter their very own private histories, do not get to center them selves in situations of abuse.”

“In these moments, survivor’s tales are the kinds that really should be elevated,” Burke reported. “There are 11 girls, whose tales were corroborated, who skilled harassment at the palms of the governor. His family’s tale does not exonerate him, and he does not get to use someone else’s trauma as his personal shield.”

The allegations that investigators claimed they corroborated ranged from inappropriate opinions to pressured kisses and groping.

In a taped assertion Tuesday, Cuomo denied at any time touching everyone inappropriately but apologized to two accusers, such as former staffer Charlotte Bennett. He said he asked Bennett about her like existence in a misunderstood bid to support her cope with trauma from a previous sexual assault. He spoke of a family member, about the exact age, who’d been sexually assaulted in substantial faculty.


“I considered I could help her work by way of a difficult time,” the governor mentioned of Bennett.

Emily Martin, vice president for training and workplace justice at the NWLC, reported Cuomo was “suggesting that he is a hero for survivors of sexual assault, which is an specifically disturbing move presented all that this report located.”

“In some strategies it reminds me of the ‘father of daughters’ feedback that we listen to from so lots of adult men in ability,” Martin reported, “that we need to just take them at their phrase that they care about these challenges dependent on their private loved ones relationships.”

Bennett herself named Cuomo’s apology “meaningless.”

“If he were being sorry, he would stage down. That’s how accountability performs,” she instructed the AP quickly subsequent the remarks.

Elaborating Wednesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Bennett reported: “He insinuated that survivors of trauma and sexual assault cannot explain to the change concerning mentorship and management and sexual harassment by itself, which is not only insulting to me but to every survivor who listened to him yesterday.”


Marissa Hoechstetter was just one of those people survivors. She stated she was saddened by Cuomo’s reference to his relative’s assault “because I do not want to diminish these encounters.” But, extra the advocate for reform in New York state, “two points can be real. You can have somebody in his family members who expert sexual harm, and he could also have triggered this hurt.”

“You feel so gutted when you see people’s trauma trotted out to consider to make clear absent a further person’s rightful voice,” Hoechstetter reported.

Deborah Tuerkheimer, a Northwestern University regulation professor who specializes in sexual misconduct, observed Cuomo’s remarks as section of a bigger system to discredit his accusers and save his political career.

“We frequently attract on a established of longstanding misconceptions about abusers as ‘monsters’ with no redeeming qualities by any means,” Tuerkheimer mentioned. “Whenever an accused guy seems diverse from this imagined monster, we’re a lot more inclined to doubt the allegations towards him. And accused adult males often strategically faucet into this cultural bias by highlighting, as proof of innocence, their most effective characteristics — such as, probably, empathy for victims of sexual assault.”


For Indira Henard, director of the D.C. Rape Disaster Center, the case in opposition to Cuomo’s statement was uncomplicated: You just can’t support survivors in 1 sentence and discredit them in a further.

“If you stand and feel survivors, then you believe survivors,” Henard said. “You do not get to just take apart their tale.”

Numerous also questioned the usefulness of other areas of Cuomo’s taped assertion, which was accompanied by a slideshow of him hugging and kissing men and women in benign settings.

“I do kiss people on the forehead,” he explained. “I do kiss people today on the cheek. I do kiss men and women on the hand. I do embrace individuals. I do on situation say, ‘Ciao, bella.’”

Evan Nierman, CEO and president of Purple Banyan, a disaster general public relations agency centered in Florida and Washington, D.C., known as it “a daring move” by Cuomo “to assert that he’s some type of a serial hugger and for that reason none of the allegations could be legitimate because he hugs and kisses everybody.”


“There’s a large difference among proper physical get hold of and kinds of allegations that were being levied versus the governor,” stated Nierman, “and so I really do not believe most people today are likely to conflate the two.”

Deborah Tannen, a Georgetown University linguistics professor who scientific studies cross-cultural conversation, famous Cuomo’s reference to his heritage. She acknowledged that Italian Individuals are inclined towards informal touches in discussion, “but that is not touching sexual places.”

“That is welcoming kissing,” she claimed. “So I believe that, as well, is not definitely relevant to the most really serious allegations.”

From crisis interaction professionals to survivors, lots of agreed that Cuomo’s political potential would seem unsalvageable. For New York and his accusers to move forward, they said, the governor requires to be held accountable.


“Simply set, he requires to resign,” Henard stated, including that if he won’t, he ought to be eliminated. “There’s no coming back from this.”


Observe Noveck on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JocelynNoveckAP and Sen at https://twitter.com/mallikavsen.

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