We are watching the politicization and protection of child abuse — and it’s horrifying.
On the slim chance that you’ve missed the highly talked about and increasingly disturbing Conway family drama, here’s a little recap.
Claudia Conway, 16, daughter of former Trump campaign manager and Senior Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, has been blasting her mother on social media since last summer— mostly on TikTok.
Claudia has accused Kellyanne of mental, physical, and emotional abuse, even including audio and video clips where her mother is screaming at, seemingly hitting, or mocking the teen. As a result, Claudia announced that she was seeking emancipation from her parents in August.
As time passed, however, Claudia claimed her parents are too powerful for anything to actually happen and move forward in her favor. She also claimed she would never willingly give up posting to social media, and said if it ever happened, that would not be her choice whatsoever. She’s also stated that she doesn’t want to release everything she has on her mother because she doesn’t want to see her mom in jail. (Like most kids, I’d like to add.)
Nothing about the Conway family drama surprises me. I suppose I say that because I grew up with the same sort of abuse, but in a very poor and low-profile evangelical home.
The one thing that even remotely shocks me, at this point, is the response of so many on-lookers watching these events unfold on social media.
The last time Claudia tweeted back in August, for example, she wrote: “y’all love to twist everything 😭😭 i’m not getting emancipated because of my mom’s job.. it is because of years of childhood trauma and abuse.”
She was responding to Conservative allegations that she — at just 15 years old — wanted emancipation only because she identifies as a liberal and doesn’t like Trump. In other words, folks said she was just a spoiled brat who didn’t like her mom’s job.
In response to that tweet, fully grown-ass women replied to the child with messages like:
“Who abused you?”
“Someone needs to have their smart phone taken away- immediately. One thing is clear, you are not being disciplined you deserve.”
“[God] would be thinking her quality and length of life are going to be affected by her teenage tantrum about her parents on social media if she doesn’t repent.. ‘Honor your father and mother so things will go well with you and so that you can enjoy long life on the earth.’”
“U will one day look back on all of this and apologize to your parents for what u put them thru. I promise u”
“One piece of advice: Don’t air out your dirty laundry in public. Very, very poor taste. If you need help, contact a therapist, a family member, school counseling.”
Do any of those words sound familiar to you? They should. It’s the same sort of stuff people tell victims of sexual assault. Of course, it’s not all that surprising when you consider how most of the people blaming Claudia the teenager, and standing up for Kellyanne the parent are religious Conservatives. We are literally watching Americans turn child-abuse into a political issue and once again, Right-wingers are on the wrong side.
Republicans are in such a rush to defend Kellyanne that the only question they’re asking is, “What did this teenager do?”
It’s one more case of victim-blaming, but this time, we’re talking about a minor who has absolutely no recourse except for social media. So, of course, her cries for help look frantic and haphazard. She’s just a kid! If you ask me, this child is brave to even try to get help for herself. When I was her age, I was far too fearful to question my mom, and in hindsight, it’s something I truly regret.
Last week, it was reported that the police showed up at the Conway family home to conduct a welfare check on Claudia. As this Twitter feed explains below, the officer believed Kellyanne’s testimony that Claudia is simply a rebellious teenager, and he advised her to take away the child’s phone and internet.
Can you feel my rage right now?
Then, the situation took an even darker turn when a fleet from Kellyanne’s Twitter account showed a topless photo of Claudia. A topless photo of a minor. CNBC reports that the young Conway complained about the photo in a TikTok video on Monday, and warned her mother “by name that she, Kellyanne, could go to jail.”
Later, the teenager shifted her tone and said she doesn’t think her mom made that fleet and that she was most likely hacked, but Claudia also suggested her mother had the photo in her possession for the sole purpose of using it against her one day.
So, the distribution of child pornography is an incredibly serious allegation. In fact, teenagers themselves have been charged for sharing nude selfies. While Claudia’s topless photo was quickly deleted, it still made its round on the internet through screenshots and left people with a slew of questions. Did Kellyanne really make the fleet? Was she actually holding onto a nude photo of her daughter to use as… revenge porn? What the heck is actually going on in that household?
This story seems to get more and more troubling as time passes. Just yesterday, a day after the nude photo, Claudia’s father George Conway tweeted out her latest statement on TikTok.
You can watch that statement below, along with a few other clips to further outline the most recent events, but I’ll warn you that it’s all deeply disturbing.
In Claudia’s statement, again, this is just a child, she says she will be off of social media so she can focus on fixing her relationship with her mom. She even claims that she and her mother fight like mothers and daughters, but love each other like mothers and daughters too.
Folks, I am clearly no body language expert or therapist. I will say, though, her statement doesn’t ring true to me. After all, the dysfunctional family dynamic that we’ve been watching over the past five months or so — it does not depict “normal” or remotely healthy fighting. Anybody who screams at and berates their 15- or 16-year-old child as Kellyanne does has some serious anger management issues.
I don’t care what your politics are. I don’t care what your religion is. I don’t even care how much your child is acting out and driving you up the wall. Kids act out for real reasons. You do not speak to a child like that and expect them to “behave” or learn anything beneficial from you at all.
My own mother used to scream at me and my sister like that, minus the F-bombs, plus a much greater emphasis on “going to hell.” It was all about control. Our mom felt it was incredibly important to control the narrative of our lives. She worried what the neighbors thought — even as she screamed at us or hit us. It didn’t matter if we were calm, crying, or yelling back. Our mom would blame her rage on us, and claim that we were trying to make her angry so that the cops would take her away.
Most of all, when our mother screamed at us like Kellyanne Conway screams at Claudia, she told us we were no good. That other people all thought we were crazy. That we had everything to be ashamed of and she didn’t want to deal with us anymore.
And at 12, 14, or 16 yearsold? Good God, I just wanted it to stop.
So, you know, as I watch Claudia’s statement on TikTok I recognize her red nose, tired eyes, weakened voice, and glances off to the side. Our mother coached and threatened us as well. Given all of the abuse I’ve either witnessed or endured from Evangelicals, I don’t buy it for a minute that the kid made that statement of her own volition.
I really do believe that Kellyanne made her do it.
Why does that matter? It should be obvious by now. Kellyanne Conway is a toxic personality and an abusive parent. As a result, Claudia is a child who desperately needs help. It’s really just mind-blowing to watch these things happen via social media, understanding that abuse is much worse behind closed doors, and yet see so many Republicans wave it all away like some short-lived teenage tantrum.
What does that tell Claudia about abuse? What does that tell other teenagers going through similar things? Maybe that the system doesn’t care?
Even with the topless photo making headlines, folks are still defending Kellyanne. Just take a look at some of the very bad takes on Facebook:
Reading one cruel comment after another from mostly Conservative, mostly white, and mostly female readers is exhausting. As a mother and a child abuse survivor, I’m beside myself here. I’ve written before how America seems to be suffering from a severe lack of empathy, and I think things like social media and affluence have made it even worse. Reading the public’s response to this kind of drama really drives it all back home, doesn’t it?
As I’ve said in the past, empathy begins at home. It is a parent’s responsibility to their child to be empathetic. To be safe and worthy of a child’s trust. You cannot ridicule a child as Kellyanne does and expect things to be okay.
Just in case you need a reminder, some of Kellyanne’s insults to Claudia have included:
“You’re lucky your mom’s pro-life.”
“I want you out of here!”
“I can get you taken out of here today.”
“What the f*** is wrong with you?”
“F*** you, f*** you. It’s over, it’s over—I don’t care who’s following you, dumbass.”
"You’re never going to record another f***ing thing in your life, it’s going for a forensic analysis.”
None of that is okay, people, and if you honestly do think it’s okay, you truly have no business raising a child.
Of course, with all of this drama — which, let me remind you is serious trauma and turmoil for a 16-year-old kid — where the heck is the father? If anything, George Conway, a very high profile lawyer, only adds more questions.
As you may already be aware, George doesn’t agree with Kellyanne on a lot of things — especially Trump. In fact, George is a co-founder of the Lincoln Project, that group of Republicans (and former Republicans) who fought against Trump’s reelection. Imagine that.
Back in 2019, President Trump even reacted to criticism from George by calling him a “stone cold LOSER & husband from h***.” Do you know what Kellyanne did?
Folks, that woman actually defended Trump against her own husband. She even pointed out that her husband isn’t a psychiatrist, and claimed the president shouldn’t need to respond when “a non-medical professional [like her husband, cough cough] accuses him of having a mental disorder.”
Oh my God. I don’t even want to know what their fights are like.
Last week, George published an opinion piece in The Washington Post called “What I Really Believe.”
In it, he wrote:
“I believe in truth, democracy and the rule of law. I believe in a lot of other things as well, but after the past four years, these seem most important now.
I believe truth isn’t always easy to find, or to face. I believe that, as human beings, we tend to believe what we want to believe, because that’s easier, more soothing and convenient. But I believe, as the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) said, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts. I believe that if you don’t change your views as you learn new facts, then many of the facts you believe probably aren’t facts.”
But you know, the “funny” thing is that Trump’s out of office and I don’t care what George Conway thinks about anything right now, except this — why the heck is he not taking care of his child?
Back in August, Kellyanne resigned from her duties with the Trump administration and George said he was taking time away from the Lincoln Project and Twitter too. Um, okay. Both parents said they would be focusing on their family.
How’s that going right now? From here it sure looks like a nightmare and I don’t blame Claudia (SIXTEEN!) for any of it. I absolutely believe this mess is Kellyanne’s and George’s doing. And from everything that’s been leaked so far, this is not your run-of-the-mill teenage affluenza case. I don’t believe that these parents have simply “overindulged” Claudia — at least, that’s not the big issue here at all.
The real issue here is child abuse. And certainly some emotional neglect. If George himself is not actively abusing Claudia, I’d argue that he’s neglecting her and enabling his wife’s abuse. On that level, he’s complicit. The fact that he shared Claudia’s latest statement where she says she’ll be away from social media is a big red flag as well.
So far, the abuse happening inside the Conway home appears to be protected by fame and politics. It’s amazing, really, how the so-called “family values” and “pro-life” party is supporting the parents, and in particular, Kellyanne.
Though some of the comments I see on George’s Twitter feed alarm me too. His people are commenting as if this is simply some “normal” thing all families go through.
Yes, families do go through rough patches. But we are talking about child abuse, and that’s not something families “get through” without serious and more immediate professional help. It feels like people have lost sight of the reality that a child’s wellbeing is supposed to be the priority here.
Not the parents. Not the politics.
Claudia is supposed to be the priority. And I’d add that putting her under a microscope and analyzing her as some rebellious teenager is not helpful at all.
Perhaps this is a good reminder that police officers are not therapists. They are not experts in child behavior or family dysfunction. There is not a great deal of relief to be had if the police come back from their current investigation and say that everything is fine.
Everything is clearly not fine, and law enforcement has already dropped the ball by suggesting a known abuser should confiscate an endangered child’s best tool for protection.
What on earth, America?
None of this is okay. None of this is even remotely okay. This child needs help and protection.
What will it take to finally happen?