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If you suffer from an eating disorder now or have in the past, please email Joanna for a free telephone consultation.



Eating Disorder Recovery
Joanna Poppink, MFT
Eating Disorder Recovery Psychotherapist
serving Arizona, California, Florida, Oregon and Utah.
All appointments are virtual.


worried or frightened girl

The Trump Campaign may be may be awakening your PTSD symptoms. It may be triggering your eating disorder.

A large, bullying, arrogant man in a position of wealth and power who feels entitled to experience or own anything he wants is parading through the media blatantly derogating, belittling, humiliating, insulting and sexually molesting women through his words and actions.

If you have a history of being dishonored in any of these ways, Donald Trump's words and non-verbal actions we see through media and hear him describe, might well be the cause of your reliving your personal traumas now. You may know this and feel it.


Or, you may be oblivious to how his sneering, stalking, descriptions of accosting women and invading their private dressing room to see them naked have pushed you to resort to your old methods of distracting or numbing yourself to avoid your pain. His attacks on other groups of people, like the military and their families and Muslims may also do this. God help you if you are a woman of Muslim heritage in the United States military. 

Let's look at what might be happening to you now.

  1. Are you isolating?
  2. Are you frightened and anxious?
  3. Are you binging or purging?
  4. Are you overeating or eating compulsively?
  5. Are you quick to cry?
  6. Are you more irritable?
  7. Is your body more tense?
  8. Are you having trouble sleeping?
  9. Are you having bad dreams?
  10. Are you more forgetful?
  11. Are you angry?
  12. Are you frustrated with feelings of helplessness?
  13. Are you developing a skin condition, headaches or experiencing diarrhea?

These symptoms could be fear reactions based on the experience of seeing a man close to becoming the leader of this country act out before the public his sexually exploitative and abusive ways. Worse, you are also seeing thousands of people cheering him and supporting him. That can translate to you as seeing thousands of people approving your being assaulted physically or emotionally or spiritually.

Any group that Trump targets with his bullying and hate-filled attacks can be reminded by the approving crowds of past vile dictators who destroyed millions of people once that dictator assumed power. This can cause a huge fear reaction in you.

More specifically, you may well be remembering sexual abuse and abuse of power directly. You may be emotionally experiencing it again as if it were happening now. Your personal bullies and abusers may not be in your life now, but a bullying abuser is acting out now. Seeing abuse of power is a violation. Seeing sanctioned abuse is horrific and terrifying.

I'm a psychotherapist who works with women suffering from eating disorders. To me, that is much more than sitting with patients in scheduled appointments. It's much more than establishing normal and healthy eating patterns.

Recovery is certainly about healing, developing, growing and getting strong and free in this world. Recovery is also about recognizing assailants and knowing when you are threatened. It's about recognizing when you are actually being assaulted and having the skills, strength and support to protect yourself from the predator and to render the predator harmless.

This is a huge undertaking when we live in a rape and bullying culture where thousands or millions of people, men and women, accept and cooperate with the vicious, sneering, catcalling, ridiculing, contempt and exploitation girls and women experience throughout their lives.

This ugly presidential campaign has lifted a huge rock of silent cooperation composed of entitlement and certainty that women are body parts to be played with, taunted, criticized and shared with titillating jokes in a trailer or any other cluster point where abusers feel powerful and safe. The rock is up and the extent of the betrayal of girls and women in this country is wiggling around, its sliminess exposed.

Please know that this presidential campaign can be a powerful force for your healing and for making our culture more respectful of you, of all our people, and especially women.

Watch denial fall. Watch powerful Republican politicians finally confront their collusion with crimes against women. Watch Hillary Clinton stand up to a bully and watch her keep her mind and stance clear while a predator looms behind her, stalks her and tries to intimidate her.

Have you been in that position? Do you remember when someone bigger, more powerful and in authority intimidated you for your mind or body? That behavior is being exposed now.

Did you see the open microphone bus tape? Donald Trump and Billy Bush lasciviously ravished actress Arianne Zucker.

So much has been discussed about this disgusting scornful conversation that showed men delighted in sexually objectifying women and showed a sharing sexual titillation while discussing Ms. Zucker. Supposedly this conversation happened in private, and Ms. Zucker didn't hear it.

But I ask you, have you been in the position where a man or a group of men acted toward you as if they had intimate knowledge of you? Could you feel in your skin a crawling sensation almost as if you remembered or knew they had been all over you? Did you notice with your body senses that they shared a jovial camaraderie with each other as if they had sexual knowledge of you?

You've felt it when a group of men jeer, make comments about your body or make lewd expressions with their hands or their tongues as you walk by. But you've also felt it in the halls of your school, in the office where you work and perhaps in your own home with friends or relatives. And you don't know what to do.

So you act as Ms. Zucker did. You try to smile, to act charming as if nothing were happening because nothing is happening to you. But you know something is happening to you. You know you are being used.

With Ms. Zucker and perhaps with you, the molestation goes on with the request or demand for a hug, for body contact. She can't think of a graceful, polite way to say no to the men who have more power than she.

Students have the same confusion and difficulty when a teacher wants that hug. Employees suffer the same when an employer or senior staff person wants that hug. Children feel the same when a teacher, a relative, a spiritual advisor, or a coach wants that hug.

If you are relapsing into your disorder you may be trying to fight off that feeling where your skin crawls, where you are disgusted and afraid, where you feel helpless because nothing bad is happening. Yet you know something bad is happening.

That puts you in a helpless and confused position because you don't know how to take care of yourself. And, on top of all that, when an adult woman feels that confusion and helplessness among a group of men who share molestation pleasure with each other about her, the men often laugh.

It's a rough bar room laughter shared between these men which isolates the woman out as an object they've conquered. Have you been there? Do you know this feeling?

Please come out from your protective symptoms and watch as healthy human beings confront and fight this long-term sanctioned abuse of women. Join the confrontation if you can.

Donald Trump may have not only destroyed himself as a candidate, he also may have led, through no desire of his own, a real turning point in how women are viewed and treated in our country. He may have opened the door to real healing, safety and respect for all of us.

"For Many Women, Trump’s ‘Locker Room Talk’ Brings Memories of Abuse" is a New York Times article about Kelly Oxford's call to women. "Tweet me your first assaults," hashtag #notokay. See her Twitter account @kellyoxford for women's massive number of responses.

How to help yourself now:

  1. Call your psychotherapist
  2. Join or create a support group
  3. Writer your indignation to the press and on social media
  4. Share your experience with friends and family
  5. Share your support with others who are reaching out
  6. Share at a 12-step meeting
  7. Express your experience in art and share it
  8. Add your experience, strength and hope in the comments below.
  9. Share this article on social media.
  10. Don’t let the bullies get you down – not anymore. Come out.  You have friends and supporters now. Stand tall and free.

Positive approaches for men:

From the LA Times, Fathers of daughters may feel insulted, but fathers of sons can fix the problem

From an opinion piece in the New York Times, "How to be a Man in the Age of Trump", this is how healing our society takes hold:

“Don’t sexually assault women” (or, for that matter, 'Don’t get a girl pregnant') is an awfully low bar for acceptable behavior. It does little to address the complexity of boys’ lives, the presumption of their always-down-for-it sexuality, the threat of being called a “pussy” if you won’t grab one, the collusion that comes with keeping quiet. Boys need continuing, serious guidance about sexual ethics, reciprocity, and respect. Rather than silence or swagger, they need models of masculinity that are not grounded in domination or aggression."

I know this is a difficult subject, but please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Written by Joanna Poppink, MFT. Joanna is a psychotherapist in private practice specializing in eating disorder recovery, stress, PTSD, and adult development.

She is licensed in CA, AZ, OR, FL, and UT. Author of the Book: Healing Your Hungry Heart: Recovering from Your Eating Disorder

Appointments are virtual.

For a free telephone consultation, e-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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