Carroll tells PEOPLE she's felt a lot of love since her court victory — but reminds that Trump's high status remains intact and she's still out of a job, saying, "I'm much more awake now to injustice"
The former Elle advice columnist and TV host, 79, says the verdict that found the former U.S. president liable for sexually abusing and defaming her followed a “marathon” of a trial. But ultimately, it was a “momentous achievement.”
“It was not just for me. Every woman feels vindicated. At last, a woman was believed,” Carroll tells PEOPLE. "It took years, and the greatest attorney in America, and persistence through four different courts.”
Carroll was in Boston on Wednesday to honor her attorney, Roberta “Robbie” Kaplan, as the 2023 Leadership Awardee by the Victim Rights Law Center, which provides legal representation to survivors of rape and sexual assault to help rebuild their lives.
Carroll says she credits Kaplan with giving her the strength to take on one of the most powerful men in the world.
“I didn't do it. Robbie did. I just felt strong because I had a shield and a sword in Robbie — she wields one or the other whenever she needs to do it. And I was by her side,” explains Carroll. “Robbie is the first person since he was president to make him pay for his lies. And it took a long time, and we're not done yet.”
In May, a jury ordered that Trump pay Carroll $2 million for sexual abuse and nearly $3 million for defamation. Speaking to Today following the news of the verdict, Carroll said she was “overwhelmed with joy.” But making it through the lengthy trial was no simple task.
“Well, it's called a trial because it's a trial. It's a trial,” says Carroll, noting that she often couldn't sleep as proceedings dragged on. While she was “elated” to actually have her day in court, she was terrified she would say something wrong and let down her legal team. When asked if the experience made her tougher, she says it's the other way around.
“Actually, I got a thinner skin. I'm much more awake now to injustice and the hurt going on around me," she tells PEOPLE. “Unfortunately, in this culture, the man who we triumphed over in court still has a very high status. As a matter of fact, his status was raised. And I still lost my job.” (Carroll’s contract was terminated by Elle magazine.)
Carroll first went public with her allegations in 2019, alleging she was forced up against a dressing room wall, pinned in place, and raped by Trump. He subsequently said in an interview: "No. 1: She's not my type" and that he had "never met this person in my life." (The two have been photographed together, though Trump said that was an incidental moment, PEOPLE previously reported.)
Trump later tweeted that Carroll was "totally lying" about the rape, claiming she made up the allegation in order to promote the sale of her book. Carroll says she was so horrified by his statements that it led her to file suit against the former president in New York, alleging battery and defamation under the state's Adult Survivors Act, which creates a one-year lookback window for survivors of sexual abuse to file claims otherwise barred by the statute of limitations.
“He kept repeating the horrible thing, over and over and over,” she recalls, before explaining why she didn't come forward with her claims sooner. "4,000 years of culture telling you to keep your mouth shut. Don't rock the boat. And it was for a good reason: because women are rarely believed. Men always have the higher status."
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer.
Carroll says the response from the public has been tremendous since her victory in court, with strangers approaching her on the street to express gratitude.
“It's not just women. Men. They just say just in passing, they won't even stop," she notes. "They’ll say thank you. Then I feel really great.”
For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on People.