In a rare television appearance, former model and potential FLOTUS Melania Trump spoke with Anderson Cooper on Monday night in an attempt to prove to the public that her husband doesn't hate women.
Standing by her man, Melania addressed everything from her husband's leaked conversation with Billy Bush to claims that he has sexually abused multiple women. In a slight backtrack from her previous statement, in which she expressed disappointment in her husband for his "grab her by the pussy" remarks, she claimed that Bush had instigated the comments, claiming her husband was "led on—like, egged on—from the host to say dirty and bad stuff."
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Melania continued her defense by saying Trump's behavior was no more than a quirk of his boyish personality. "Sometimes I say I have two boys at home—I have my young son and I have my husband. But I know how some men talk, and that's how I saw it, yes." More specifically, when asked about People magazine journalist Natasha Stoynoff's claim that Donald Trump assaulted her during an interview, Melania discredited the story by saying portions of it didn't even happen. "She wrote in the same story about me that she saw me on 5th Avenue, and I said to her, 'Natasha, how come we don't see you anymore?' I was never friends with her, I would not recognize her."
While the evidence against Donald's misogyny builds, it's hard to understand exactly why Melania would stay married to a man who's at best an embarrassing misogynist and at worst a sexual predator. According to psychologist and relationship expert Dr. Nicole Martinez, she's not much different than your friend who continues to make excuses for her shitty boyfriend.
If Melania's contradictory actions seem familiar to you, it's because it's standard behavior for women who stay with undeniably awful men. To Martinez, Melania's actions (and inaction) speak volumes. Throughout her husband's campaign and his ensuing offensive remarks every step of the way, she's remained relatively silent, until recently. However, during this interview, she postured herself as a strong and independent woman. "She was using buzzwords," says Martinez. "Saying things like 'I'm so strong, I'm so independent'—she was trying to prove the exact opposite of her behavior."
Martinez also points out Melania's inability to fully admit that Donald is clearly in the wrong, although the receipts are endless—instead, she continuously places blame on others for her husband's faults. "It's so common," Martinez explains. "A lot of times if [someone's] husband has cheated on them, they won't tell that to their friends or their families because they don't want them to not like him." She explains that people in toxic relationships also often don't want to admit that they would willingly choose to be with someone awful, so they try to mitigate their sense of shame by pretending their partners aren't so bad.
Despite how common this dynamic is, Martinez believes there's no one way to know Melania's true motivations. "It could be completely because she loves him. It can be money motivated, or the intimidation of being with a rich and powerful man." What she does know is that in relationships with men like Donald Trump, women typically try and leave seven or eight times before it sticks.
Ultimately, in Martinez's experience, these women who deny their partner's wrongdoing often share the same fate—not to anyone's surprise, Martinez says, "They always end up getting cheated on."
In Stoynoff's People story, she claimed Donald cornered her the moment they were alone during an interview. "He pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat," she wrote in her account published last week, which has since been been corroborated by six named sources.