Expert: Trump accuser shows signs of trauma, resilience

Expert: Trump accuser shows signs of trauma, resilience

NEW YORK (AP) — A clinical psychologist testified Wednesday that the writer accusing former President Donald Trump of rape shows common signs of trauma and has been able to move on with her life in part by blaming herself and leaning into her exuberant public persona.

E. Jean Carroll has avoided intimate relationships, sometimes shutting down during dates, and often finds herself fending off “intrusive memories“ of what she says Trump did to her in a dressing room at a luxury Manhattan department store, psychologist Leslie Lebowitz said.

Hired by Carroll’s lawyers, Lebowitz testified for a second day in Manhattan federal court at a civil trial arising from the lawsuit Carroll filed in November. She relayed decades of clinical expertise and her observations of Carroll during interviews in preparation for trial.

Carroll testified last week that Lebowitz is the only mental health professional she’s spoken with since the alleged sexual assault.

“For many years, she just simply blamed herself for the assault, thought she just did something stupid and that’s why it happened,” Lebowitz said.

Carroll is seeking unspecified damages. Trump has not attended the trial and will not testify, his lawyer said. The Republican has denied every claim Carroll has made, including that they ever met at the department store, Bergdorf Goodman, across from Trump Tower.

For 17 years, Carroll did not speak publicly about the event. But in a 2019 memoir, she described how a sometimes flirtatious chance encounter with Trump at the store in spring 1996 ended with violence when Trump cornered her in a dressing room after they challenged each other to try on a piece of lingerie.

Carroll is an “extremely resilient person” Lebowitz said, explaining that her persona as a popular Elle magazine advice columnist and her Midwest upbringing combined to lead her to try to keep her experience with Trump secret.

“It made her feel she was worthless. She felt degraded, diminished,” Lebowitz said. “Ms. Carroll, like most of us in many ways, doesn’t want to be a victim, doesn’t want to be pitied. But more than most people, she is fiercely identified as … the person who can march on … and put it behind you.”

Still, the psychologist said, there were times when she was nearly overcome with her memories, like when she first saw a trailer for Trump’s TV show, “The Apprentice.”

“She became so flooded with memories, feelings, a sense of panic, that she actually lost her capacity to speak,” Lebowitz said.

Lebowitz said Carroll sometimes “experiences intrusive physical remembrances” in which memories of the assault come “spooling like a video before her.”

At one point, Lebowitz said, she was speaking with Carroll and noticed that “she began to squirm in her seat because she was experiencing Mr. Trump’s fingers inside of her or what she alleges to be Mr. Trump’s fingers inside of her.”


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