Ernst opens up about past assaults

Ernst opens up about past assaults
© Greg Nash

Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstErnst town hall in Iowa gets contentious over guns Air Force probe finds no corroboration of sexual assault allegations against Trump pick Gun control activists set to flex muscle in battle for Senate MORE (R-Iowa) in a new interview with Bloomberg News opened up about her past experiences with assault, alleging she experienced attacks at the hands of her ex-husband and a boyfriend in college.

Ernst during the interview addressed the allegations, publicized this week in court documents, that her husband physically assaulted her during an argument years ago. 

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The Iowa Republican, a prominent ally of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump pushes back on recent polling data, says internal numbers are 'strongest we've had so far' Illinois state lawmaker apologizes for photos depicting mock assassination of Trump Scaramucci assembling team of former Cabinet members to speak out against Trump MORE, also during the interview said that she was raped by an abusive ex-boyfriend in college at Iowa state University.

Ernst told the outlet that her unnamed boyfriend in college was "physically and sexually abusive." She said that he raped her at his home one night, and then later threatened to kill himself if she broke up with him.

She did not tell the police, she said, but alerted the campus sexual assault counseling center's hotline before ending their relationship. A man who knew Ernst at the time vouched that she told him about the assault shortly after it happened, according to Bloomberg News. 

Ernst later wrote about volunteering at that counseling center without disclosing her previous engagement with it.

“I was embarrassed,” Ernst told Bloomberg News. “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 also told the outlet about her allegation her ex-husband, Gail Ernst, attacked her physically when they were married. She said they were arguing about a woman when he "grabbed me by the throat with his hands and threw me on the landing floor."

"And then he pounded my head … on the landing," Ernst continued. "It was very sudden and very violent. It scared me.”

Ernst said that she told a victim's advocate about the incident but decided to move ahead in her marriage with the aid of couple's counseling.

“He said that it would never happen again and blah-blah-blah. And it didn’t,” Ernst said. “But there was always that underlying threat.”

She and Gail Ernst announced last year that they are getting divorced. Court documents earlier this week revealed that Ernst alleges physical abuse by him. 

Gail's attorneys have so far declined to comment on reporting about Ernst's allegations. He did not address them in the court documents. 

“I didn’t want to share it with anybody, and in the era of hashtag-MeToo survivors, I always believed that every person is different and they will confront their demons when they’re ready,” Ernst told Bloomberg News. “And I was not ready.”

Bloomberg reported that Ernst cried throughout the interview.  

Ernst during the interview defended her relationship with Trump, who has been accused of sexual harassment by more than a dozen women.

“It’s outrageous to suggest that anyone who has been the victim of sexual assault should therefore be a Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTop Sanders adviser: Warren isn't competing for 'same pool of voters' Anti-Trump vets join Steyer group in pressing Democrats to impeach Trump Republicans plot comeback in New Jersey MORE supporter,” Ernst said. 

She also said that she stands by her decision to support now-Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughLewandowski on potential NH Senate run: If I run, 'I'm going to win' Cook Political Report moves Susan Collins Senate race to 'toss up' Sen. Susan Collins: Israel should allow Omar, Tlaib to visit MORE as he faced allegations of sexual assault from multiple women, including psychologist Christine Blasey Ford, during his confirmation hearings last year. He denied all accusations.

"I do believe [Ford] experienced trauma, but the evidence and witnesses presented by her contradicted her story,” Ernst told the outlet. “I don’t believe Justice Kavanaugh was the source of her trauma.”

“I’m seeking re-election," Ernst said. "I’m going to do it as a single woman. People know my situation now. What I can do is be honest about what happened. And I can move forward. The problem is now I’ve been outed when I was not ready to talk about it. But now maybe it forces me to talk about it.”