Iowa Senator Joni Ernst gave an emotional briefing to the press on Wednesday after the details of her divorce became public, admitting to having suffered sexual assault and abuse in her marriage. Ernst, a military veteran, serves as Iowa’s first female in either chamber of Congress and has been a strong Conservative voice in the United States Senate during her tenure.
In public records related to her divorce, Ernst details a physical altercation from her husband, Gail Ernst, after she questioned him about his relationship with their daughter’s babysitter. The senator also admits to suffering years of verbal and emotional abuse from her husband; Ernst even felt compelled to turn down then-candidate Donald J. Trump’s offer to join the ticket alongside him for vice president because of the lack of emotional support from her now-ex- husband.
In addition to detailing the horrific abuse by Gail Ernst after their divorce was finalized this week, Ernst also came forward about being raped by a significant other during college. As is most common, Ernst declined to report to law enforcement:
“I was embarrassed...I didn’t know how to explain it. I was so humiliated. And I’m a private person, when it comes to those things,” Ernst told Bloomberg.
As to be expected, Ernst is receiving backlash from the far-left on Twitter, despite her strength to come forward, for her vote to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
I am sincerely sorry Ernst suffered this abuse. No woman should, and her husband deserves to pay for what he did to her.— Matthew Chapman (@fawfulfan) January 23, 2019
That said, it disturbs me Ernst could have this experience and still disbelieve Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
Republicanism seems to truly kill empathy. https://t.co/wbyhMfA4Pg
She voted for Kavanaugh. https://t.co/CcdJgwH7Aq— (((John Stoehr))) (@johnastoehr) January 24, 2019
This rhetoric is especially vile toward a public official who has been a champion for sexual assault and domestic prevention during her tenure in the United States Senate, partnering with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to combat sexual assault and harassment in the military. Ernst was also one of the most pragmatic voices during the Kavanaugh hearings, weighing her decision, which was eventually to confirm Justice Kavanaugh, alongside witness testimony, facts and evidence.
“I do believe that there has been some trauma that Dr. Ford has experienced in her past, but it cannot be corroborated or tied to Brett Kavanaugh, so we have to look at the facts as presented, and the facts as presented is that there is no connection between the two,” Ernst told The Daily Signal in October.
Despite the life-altering trauma Ernst details, which is especially difficult for someone in the center of the public eye as she is, followed by instant criticism, Ernst gives a message of strength and solidarity to women across the political aisle.
“I fully believe that survivors have the right to keep their stories to themselves if they don’t want to share those stories, or are not ready to share those stories,” she said in a press conference in her home state on Wednesday.
Ernst will seek a second term in the United States Senate in 2020, contending that these horrific experiences motivate the senator to do the best job she can:
"What I want to remind everybody is that I'm still the same person I was a week ago...The only difference is that you know more about me now than you did a week ago.”