The price of speaking out against a powerful man

By | October 7, 2018

Tanya Selvaratnam writes:

Early in our relationship, he told me that he could tap my phone and have me followed. I knew he had the power to do this. His power was a thread that ran throughout our relationship.

We met in July 2016 at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. I had been involved in the arts and social justice causes for more than 20 years, but producing election-related videos in 2016 was my first step into electoral politics. He approached me and was surprised I didn’t know who he was. I told him I lived in New York. He said, “Then I’m your lawyer.”

His name was Eric Schneiderman, and he was the New York State attorney general.

By August, we were spending weekends together. Soon after, we were living together. He didn’t want me out of his sight, and I was falling in love. I admired him, especially after the election, when he was celebrated as part of the opposition to the president.

One night, while we were making love, he slapped me on the face. It was as if he was testing me to see how far he could go. I could see his hand approach my cheek, tap, tap again, then slam. I was stunned. A man who had been praised for his advocacy for women and the vulnerable had just hit me.

Over time, the slaps got harder and were accompanied by demands. He would slap me until I agreed to a three-way (something I never did). He would slap me until I agreed to call him “master” or “daddy.” He called me his “property” and recounted fantasies of bringing me from somewhere far away to be his “brown slave.” He would hurl spit into my mouth and mash his lips against mine or put his hands around my throat so that it was hard for me to breathe. He sometimes looked as if he were possessed. I felt as though I had vertigo. I was scared. But when I said stop, when I jumped out of bed, he made me feel as if I wasn’t meeting his needs, that I was boring and not sexually liberated. [Continue reading…]

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