Joni Ernst Opens Up About Divorce, Reveals She Was Raped in College | NTK Network Joni Ernst Opens Up About Divorce, Reveals She Was Raped in College

Joni Ernst Opens Up About Divorce, Reveals She Was Raped in College

Ernst said she was not “not ready” to discuss these topics, but sealed affidavits were inadvertently made public. Now she’s speaking out.

By NTK Staff | 01.24.2019 @10:31am
Joni Ernst Opens Up About Divorce, Reveals She Was Raped in College

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) opened up about her divorce on Wednesday after sealed affidavits were inadvertently made public and published Monday by a local outlet in Des Moines.

Ernst went into detail about her marriage with her ex-husband, Gail Ernst, which she described in the affidavit as abusive. She also went into detail about an incident that occurred when she was in college.

She entered into a relationship with someone who was “very abusive. He was physically and sexually abusive,” she said. One night while she was in college at Iowa State University, he raped her at his home, then later threatened to kill himself if she broke up with him, she said. She called the campus sexual assault counseling center’s hotline, and ended the relationship. She didn’t report the attack to police, she said.

After the incident, Ernst worked as a volunteer at a counseling center to help those like her who found themselves in need of help.

“At times as she described her past, Ernst cried so hard that she was barely intelligible,” wrote Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs, who used to work as a reporter for the Des Moines Register.

Ernst, who was first elected to the Senate in 2014 and is up for reelection in 2020, is the fourth-highest ranking Republican in the U.S. Senate and one of the highest-profile women to come forward with a story of abuse.

Despite being a strong advocate for survivors of abuse, Ernst said she wasn’t yet prepared to go public with her story. The tabloid-like headlines that followed the publication of her divorce affidavit changed her situation dramatically.

“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 said in the interview.

Her voice broke. “And I was not ready.”

In a video posted by local Iowa reporter Angelina Salcedo, Ernst tearfully talks directly to camera about how her disclosure of this information doesn’t change who she is.

“But what I want to remind everybody is that I’m still the same person as I was a week ago,” Ernst said. “The only difference is that you know more about me now than you did a week ago.”

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