If one man is to speak for Americans suffering post-election pain, that man might be Louis Tafuto from Warwick, New York, who filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Donald Trump for pain and suffering and civil rights violations.
"Trump has strategically and continuously used false statements and assertions to mislead and coerce the under-educated to vote for him, support him, and act unlawfully on his behalf,” Tafuto states in the lawsuit which was filed on the eve of the election.
He is one of millions of Americans who are grasping for ways to cope with the bitter disappointment of the outcome, experts said.
On Wednesday, clinical psychologist and Stanford professor Dr. Thomas Plante’s inbox was flooded with clients, friends and colleagues seeking his advice and solace.
“It’s that kind of devastation, panic, despondency, feeling broadsided that’s driving people right now,” Plante told Metro. “People Trump insulted—people of color, transgender, gay—are quite scared about how their lives will go now.”
Some officials are taking immediate action to curb the emotional and behavioral damage that might result, such as Boston Public Schools Superintendent Tommy Chang, who announced Wednesday that counseling resources will be offered to students, their families and staff who are affected by the presidential election.
“The coming days and weeks may be challenging for many, and celebratory for others,” Chang wrote. “As educators, we should use this opportunity as a teachable moment to have conversations with our students about the democratic process, how we can resolve differences and conflicts, and how we can address diverse and sometimes conflicting ideology.”
Plante pointed out that many people who flocked to Trump saw him as a savior.
The people of poorer, rural American “saw the world as they knew it disintegrate. Saw factories close, saw their lower level education not buy what it used to, saw more people of color come into the U.S. and see their jobs disappear. They see people doing better and feel more marginalized, with little hope of a better life,” Plante explained.
“They too want a better world and goodness and fairness," he said. "One way to cope is to recognize that we all essentially want the same thing, and that for the most part people are good.”
This might be an impetus for people to actually come together. One New York woman found a surprising effect in her online dating accounts: In one day she received three messages from men proposing marriage and referring to the election.
She said the situation reminded her of the aftermath of 9/11 when New Yorkers perceptions of the world and sense of security were shattered, and drove many people apart or together.
“The day after 9/11 people needed to connect. Anytime you go through a big life event and you’re single it’s more painful,” said Anne, 50, who asked that her last name not be used.
“I think when something unusual and horrifying happens like this it reminds them that they are single and alone and that they don’t have anyone to turn to and confide in.”
Plante also likened this election outcome to 9/11.
“Maybe this is the worst thing that happened since 9/11, but New York rallied and didn’t roll up and die. We can pull a page from that playbook and say let’s do that again, we are going to be who we want to be not because of Washington but in spite of it.”
Dr. Nuar Alsadir, a psychoanalyst and author, agreed with those who draw parallels to the terrorist attacks.
"If I had to say a dominant reaction is shock, people are experiencing it as a catastrophe, one person likened it to how she felt after 9/11, fear dread," she said. "Some are feeling moved, hope, reach for the goodness inside each other. I would say really, other people have likened it to a death. A death of the country as we know it, all that we achieved and what we worked for."
Alsadir said she is particularly concerned about the election's impact on children.
"The children are more shocked in some ways than adults," she said. "I think kids in the pre-teen to teenage years are super-traumatized and feel let down... and we unleashed this terrible world on them and didn’t protect them from what might come."