The first wife of former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter spoke out in an op-ed in the Washington Post about her experience “surviving in an abusive relationship” and chided White House advisor Kellyanne Conway for her comments about Porter’s relationship with White House communications director Hope Hicks.
Porter, who resigned after he was accused of physically abusing his two ex-wives, is reported to be dating Hicks. Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday, Conway said that she was not concerned about Hicks’ safety because “I’ve rarely met somebody so strong with such excellent instincts and loyalty and smarts.” (When CNN’s Jake Tapper challenged Conway on her statement, which implied that only weak women get abused, Conway responded that “many women get abused, no question,” and that abuse “knows no demographic or geographic bounds.”)
In her op-ed published Monday night, Colbie Holderness expressed her “dismay” over Conway’s statement:
Being strong — with excellent instincts and loyalty and smarts — does not inoculate a person against abuse. It doesn’t prevent her from entering into a relationship with an abuser. Abuse often doesn’t manifest itself early on — only later, when you’re in deep and behind closed doors. The really ugly side of Rob’s abuse only came out after we married, following three years of dating.
Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby, Porter’s second wife, told the FBI that they had endured years of physical and emotional abuse. In accounts corroborated by photos and contemporaneous reports, the women allege that Porter kicked, punched, choked, berated, and insulted them. An unnamed ex-girlfriend has also alleged abuse.
Under photos of her black eye after an alleged incident with Porter, Holderness described her own experience as Porter’s wife in the Washington Post:
For me, living in constant fear of Rob’s anger and being subjected to his degrading tirades for years chipped away at my independence and sense of self-worth. I walked away from that relationship a shell of the person I was when I went into it, but it took me a long time to realize the toll that his behavior was taking on me. (Rob has denied the abuse, but Willoughby and I know what happened.)
Porter has called all allegations of abuse “simply false.” As for the White House: