About a year ago, 18-year-old college student Lauren Batchelder stood up at a political forum in New Hampshire and told Donald Trump that she didn’t think he was “a friend to women.”
The next morning, Trump fired back on Twitter — calling Batchelder an “arrogant young woman” and accusing her of being a “plant” from a rival campaign. Her phone began ringing with callers leaving threatening messages that were often sexual in nature. Her Facebook and email inboxes filled with similar messages. As her addresses circulated on social media and her photo flashed on the news, she fled home to hide.
“I didn’t really know what anyone was going to do,” said Batchelder, now 19, who has never discussed her experience with a reporter 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.”
This is what happens when Trump targets a private citizen who publicly challenges him.
This was just the beginning of Ms. Batchelder’s problems:
For Batchelder, who studies history and gender studies at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H, the abuse continues more than a year later. Five days before the election, she received a Facebook message that read: “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.”
During her first semester at Saint Anselm in fall 2015, Batchelder decided to volunteer for former Florida governor Jeb Bush’s campaign, even though her views were much more liberal than his. To her, it was just an enjoyable opportunity to learn more about the Republican Party. She listed the volunteer position on her online résumé but later realized that she truly is a Democrat.
On Oct. 12, 2015, Batchelder attended a bipartisan forum in Manchester and said to Trump: “So, maybe I’m wrong, maybe you can prove me wrong, but I don’t think you’re a friend to women.”
Trump defended himself, saying he gave women positions of power at his construction sites, has influential women in his life and will fund women’s health initiatives.
“I love women, I respect women, I cherish women,” Trump said at one point.
Batchelder asked for the microphone again.
“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?” she said, then threw her arms up in a questioning gesture.
Trump answered curtly: “You’re going to make the same if you do as good of a job, and I happen to be pro-life, okay?”
Lauren must have felt extremely violated.
Logic doesn’t matter to online trolls, who rated Batchelder’s physical appearance, threatened to rape or otherwise hurt her and called her vulgar names. A photoshopped picture popped up online depicting her face covered in semen.
“I love social media, but I also saw the terrible side of social media,” she said. “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.”
Why would any young person want to engage publicly in the election process after that barrage of crap? What is wrong with Donald Trump to feels so threatened by a child that he would lash out like this? She was an 18 year old girl. In my world, she is a mere child. Isn’t her behavior what we want from young people? Don’t we want them to enter into the adult world thinking for themselves and being full of questions?
Trump’s behavior, once again, was pure piggery and his followers who threatened Ms. Batchelder were thugs and misogynists. Please let this be the defining reason why I have no respect for the republican party.
I fear for our nation. I fear that an egotistical buffoon on a power trip will create tensions at home and abroad that will wreck our great nation. I fear for our safety and the safety of the world.
What would have happened if a crowd of these thugs actually came in contract with Lauren Batchelder? Would she still be alive to tell her story?