Since the beginning of the Bill Cosby fiasco, I have remained silent; I have chosen not to speak. I did this for a reason, not because I had nothing to say or because I believed one side or the other; no that wasn’t it. It also wasn’t out of respect for Bill Cosby or the women who were coming forward, this wasn’t in my mind, as I watched all the media, social and regular rip both sides of this story to shreds.
Everyone taking sides, everyone with an opinion, everyone prepared to judge, everyone no matter their knowledge or qualifications prepared to render a decision.
I watched and I listened. I read the comments on the various stories. Some of the comments caused my heart to shrivel, others made me want to jump into cyberspace and hunt down the anonymous person without a soul who felt a need to spew their bile. Mostly though, I watched and I listened; to friends, family and complete strangers as they dissected the story of Bill Cosby the public persona and Bill Cosby the man and his legacy. On the other hand and from the other side of the debate I watched friends, family and strangers discount, disregard and disparage the twenty-four women who have come forward to accuse Bill Cosby, not Cliff Huxtable but Bill Cosby the man of drugging, assaulting and raping them.
I do not know the truth. The only ones in this entire tragedy who know 100% of the truth are Bill Cosby and the twenty-four women who have accused him of horrific acts of violation.
As I listened and I read, I struggled with my feelings. When Phylicia Rashād said, ‘forget those women’, I became enraged, I could only think to myself, ‘how could any woman say this about victims of sexual assault?’ Is it possible for anyone to be this free of empathy, this lacking in compassion?
Forget those women.
Then my friend and hero, Deborah at The Monster in Your Closet wrote this, encapsulating so much of what I wanted to say but didn’t have the words.
Victims of sexual assault do not report, all too often we do not report. There are many reasons for this, but the sad truth is the number one reason is how a victim of sexual assault is treated by the system that is supposed to protect them. Every single person, with rare exception, from first responders, to hospital personnel, police, DA’s and yes sadly, family members and loved ones tend to blame the victim, fall into the trap of wondering what the victim did to create, invite or otherwise cause herself to be raped.
I do not believe you.
When society plays the blame game, protecting the rapist no matter what the reason; high school football star, politician or beloved television star every excuse is trotted out for why they could not have possibly done what they are accused of doing. The ultimate result of this cover-up is, their bad acts were caused by the victim, it was the fault of the victim for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, wearing the wrong clothing, accepting a drink from them and tempting them to bad behavior. We don’t report because we already know the outcome, there are names for women (girls) like us and none of them are kind.
I could not understand, truly my heart and mind simply stuttered. How can any of us sit back and cast aspersions on victims brave enough to step forward into the light of day, allow their names and faces to be seen knowing what they would they would face; Golddigger was the kindest appellation I heard applied.
Then as if reading my heart and mind, again Deborah at Monster in Your Closet wrote another stunning analysis, this time her words brought me to my knees.
I believe you.
What all of us, every victim of sexual assault needs to hear.
I believe you. I trust you. I love you. I will protect you.
That is what most of us never hear. Never, not from our parents, not from our friends or loved ones, not from first responders or doctors, not from the police or DA’s; we just want to be heard and believed, protected.
Why don’t we report? Can you imagine having to tell the story of your sexual assault to one stranger? How about ten strangers? How about a room full of strangers? How about a room full of strangers who don’t believe you, who don’t want to believe while your rapist sits staring at you with a smirk on his face knowing he will be free soon while your heart and soul is being destroyed, your reputation shredded.
Why does our story change? We don’t remember. It is nearly impossible for us to remember ever detail in what for most of us was the most traumatic event in our lives. We don’t want to remember, for most of us we spend a lifetime trying to forget.
Am I taking sides? No, but I have a tendency to believe the victim especially where there are twenty-four. What people fail to realize, Bill Cosby isn’t going to be arrested and thrown in jail most of these accusations are over a decade old. Might there be some Civil Suits, sure but even they may get thrown out or settled so we never hear about them. In the meantime, Bill Cosby is still doing his stand-up act and making jokes to women about not drinking around him. He doesn’t appear to care to much about the gravity of the situation or his legacy, why should we?