It’s been nearly three weeks since writer E. Jean Carroll accused Donald Trump of raping her in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman 23 years ago and, just as Carroll expected, absolutely nothing has happened to Trump, save for a small (and likely unrelated, though in this country, who knows) uptick in approval points. Carroll, meanwhile, hasn’t been so lucky—in an interview with the Guardian, she revealed she’s received some death threats, enough so she’s sleeping with a loaded gun by her bed.
Carroll, who lives alone in a “cabin in the woods,” according to the Guardian, says she’s long owned a gun for fun, but after receiving “several death threats on social media,” the weapon became more than an accessory:
“It’s loaded,” Carroll says. She picks up the revolver, which has a fake pearl handle, and waves it around. “I’ve always had a gun,” she says. “When I’m doing Skype calls with my friends, I like to pull it out. But I’ve never had it loaded. Not until now.”
It’s a standout detail in a long-ranging interview (read the whole thing here), and it serves as a reminder of the (very real) danger women face when they publicly accuse powerful men of rape and sexual assault, typically with little result. When Christine Blasey Ford came forward with abuse allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, the backlash was so swift and threats so severe she and her family were driven from their home. Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court; Blasey Ford, meanwhile, was still receiving death threats several months after her testimony.
The Guardian interview notes that sleeping with a loaded gun next to your bed is “one of the prices you pay if you are a woman who has just accused the president of the United States of raping you,” but self-protection comes with its own level of risk, not the least of which is how the law treats women who shoot attackers and abusers.
That’s certainly the case with women of color and victims of sex trafficking, as proven by the case of Cyntoia Brown, a victim of sex trafficking who served 14 years in prison for killing her abusive 43-year-old boyfriend, before she was finally pardoned this year. In 2018, Philadelphia woman LeToya Ramseure was charged with third-degree murder after she wrested a gun from her abusive former lover and shot him before he could shoot her first. 14-year-old Bresha Meadow was initially charged with aggravated murder after she shot and killed her abusive father in 2016 (she was eventually sentenced to a year in juvenile detention). A gun isn’t much protection, certainly not from the law; meanwhile, it’s noteworthy that the National Rifle Association has been attempting to stop Congress from reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, whose new provision would make it easier for cops to take guns from domestic abusers.