What’s Wrong with #FreeMelania

Hint: Domestic Abuse is not a joke.

Jan. 20th 2017.
The end of an era.
An onset of uncertainty and fear.
Can’t turn back now.
Would rather not be remembered
…but is so difficult to forget…

As you may agree, inauguration day was a disruptive day for many, both in the United States and worldwide. Barack Obama stepped down as President of the United States of America and Donald Trump was sworn in.

However, I’d like to argue that it might have been the most personally destructive day for someone who was suppose to be part of the celebration herself — Melania Trump.

As shown throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump seems to not only be comfortable with media attention, but embraces their coverage– both the good and the bad. However, while it is certain that Trump enjoyed being the center of attention, the same cannot be said for Melania when things like this circulate the internet:

Soon after the inauguration, a snippet of Trump speaking with Melania before the swearing in went viral — showcasing her bright smile while talking with him, but then a sulking frown as soon as he looks away.

The Frown.

As responsible consumers of journalism should know, snippets do not tell the whole story — her expression could have been the result of taking in the whole situation, being uncomfortable for unknown reasons, etc. — however, in this case there’s enough evidence to draw conclusions from.

During the span of the inauguration there is a persistent stiffness between the two:

Melania left behind while Trump greets Obamas
Trump and Melania dancing

These moments are what initially inspired the #freemelania #savemelania movement — which has been culminating worldwide attention and controversy not only on social media, but also at the Women’s March — yielding tweets and signs such as these:

Tweets implying that Trump threatens Melania to stay by his side:

and signs at the Women’s March offering help:

Let’s get something straight: Donald Trump volunteered himself to run for office. He is a public figure, and the president should be scrutinized for his words, actions, and behavior; unfortunately for Melania Trump, she has been brought into the public eye without much of a choice.

While Barack and Michelle Obama openly displayed their love and affection for each other through their years at the White House, it is clear that Donald and Melania have a different dynamic. Their union, public display of affection, and moments can be observed and discussed, however, making claims of domestic abuse not only undermines Melania’s dignity, but more importantly the dignity of all women who have found themselves to be victims of this serious issue.

Women all over the world already fear denial, scrutiny, and retaliation, if it were revealed that they are victims of domestic violence.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in just 60 seconds nearly 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. This adds up to nearly 10 million women and men each year.

Along with this, the American Psychological Association estimates that one in three women worldwide have been “beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime.”

Joking about domestic abuse trivializes it, like it is something that is not a big deal, or even worse, promotes it as if it was something that is normal. It takes away from the seriousness of the issue, making it seem more of joke where the victim’s accusations are the punchline.

Since the inauguration, the new FLOTUS has been rather silent, and has avoided public attention.

However in a speech during the campaign she talks about how she would like to address social media and cyberbullying saying, “We have to find a better way to talk to each other, to disagree with each other, to respect each other”.

Let’s learn how to separate political jabs from perpetuation of abuse — remember where the problem is and together we can focus our energy on creating positive change.