bill cosby – in his own words

A NOTE TO MY PARENTS: PLEASE, PLEASE DO NOT READ THIS POST. IT’S ABOUT RAPE AND GETS INTO DETAILS OF MY OWN STORY THAT YOU DO NOT WANT TO HEAR. 

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{Image is a photo of a march in Philadelphia to end rape culture. The young woman in the foreground is carrying a sign which reads, “Rape is the only crime in which the victim becomes the accused,” a quote from Freda Adler. Photo credit: Priyamvada Dalmia, The Daily Pennsylvanian}

 ~

Though he portrayed the drug-taking and sex as consensual, Mr. Cosby — when asked whether Ms. Serignese was in a position to consent to sexual intercourse after he gave her quaaludes in 1976 — said: “I don’t know.”

– From the New York Times article describing the deposition of Bill Cosby, 2005

~

It’s odd what I remember all these years later. It’s not the physical pain. It’s not the begging for him to stop. It’s not the tears nor the shock that followed.

It’s the ground. The dark, damp asphalt. And the bricks in the wall. And the smell of the dumpster just feet away.

~

“If you give a woman — or a man, for that matter — without his or her knowledge a drug and then have sex with that person without consent, that’s rape.”

– President Obama in a press conference, July 15th 

~

But more than anything else what has haunted me this week has been an image of something that I couldn’t actually see at the time. A picture that I’ve created in my mind over time. From a different perspective. One outside myself. Watching it happen.

It’s his hand. Splayed across my back. Holding me in place. Taking away my choice. My control. My dignity.

~

In the court case, 13 women came forward with anonymous sworn statements to support Ms. Constand, saying that they, too, had been molested in some way by Mr. Cosby. But they never had a chance to pursue their claims in court because, six months after the fourth and final day of his deposition, Mr. Cosby settled the case with Ms. Constand on undisclosed terms. His deposition was filed away, another document in a settled court case, until now.

New York Times

~

I told no one.

For so many reasons, I told no one.

Twenty-three years later, I am still embarrassed. I still feel like it’s my fault. I still see his hand, the ground, the bricks, the loss.

Twenty-three years later, it’s time.

~

 

Those words in between the quotes are mine.

Like you, I’ve watched Bill Cosby’s accusers tell their strikingly, horrifically similar tales. Like you, I didn’t want to believe them. Perhaps unlike you, I had no choice. Because (now) 26 years ago, there was a hand on my back holding me down as I cried out in pain and fear and pleading. And because I told no one.

As each of these women came forward, all these years later, encouraged by one another’s bravery to step out of the shadows, they faced exactly what had kept them silent for so long. Exactly what kept us all quiet.

They were scammers, copycats, in it for the money, the fame, the tell-all books they’d surely write, they were no more than spurned lovers out to ruin a good man. 

Those words came from people in my life. People who had no idea that as they said them to me I was remembering the dark, damp asphalt. People who have never had to think about how rape changes you. Who don’t know or maybe just don’t care that while we cannot deny the very slim possibility that a cry of rape is false, the damage that we do by immediately jumping to the conclusion that it is every God damned time a person says, “This happened to me,” is unfathomable.

It keeps us silent.

It convinces us that the shame is ours.

It tells us that we are the ones who have something to hide.

And it tells those who would violate us that it’s okay. That it’s not their fault. That we were asking for it. That our consent – our real, authentic, informed consent, doesn’t matter.

What I’m struggling with more than anything these past few days is that now that a ten year old deposition has been released, now that we’ve heard in his own words that he procured quaaludes for the purpose of sex, that he paid exceedingly young women for their silence, now, NOW we believe. Now the scammers, copycats, in it for the money, the fame, the tell-all books they’d surely write, no more than spurned lovers out to ruin a good man are actually victims of a serial predator who fooled us all. Well, probably. Except for the ones who were just trying to get ahead in Hollywood, who would have done it anyway, who were drunk, who saw him multiple times, who for whatever ungodly effing reason we choose to continue to blame for losing the control that he took from them.

We are feeding the cancer that is this power dynamic.

We didn’t believe them. We still don’t. We believe HIM. He said so, so now it’s true.

This is why it took me 23 years to tell my story.

This is why it’s happening right now to someone else who may not be able tell theirs for 23 more.

This has to stop.

19 thoughts on “bill cosby – in his own words

  1. I am so sorry this happened. To you. To all these women. We do have to change this, even if it sounds like a broken record. Because I worry, if we make it this hard for a neurotypical woman to come forward, I am so, so scared for my own autistic daughters….. This has to stop, and it has to be more than a women’s issue or a disability issue. It is a human rights issue. I am so sorry you are still dealing with this. Hugs.

  2. Dear Jess,

    Despite your warning, I did read this, all the way through. Hugs and love, for saying what needs to be said, however hard, always. I hope to be here to hear what you have to say, and thinking about it, for many years to come.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. I pray that as you share your innermost secrets, others will feel less alone and empowered to speak their truth, too. May the tides turn swiftly towards justice. May we rally around you and believe!!

    “We didn’t believe them. We still don’t. We believe HIM. He said so, so now it’s true.”

  4. As a victim of sexual assault, I believe those women! I just don’t believe that they will all be lying. Though I wasn’t expecting this from a moralist old man but yet I just can’t stop believing those women! Victims of rape are always victimized by people who say it’s their fault or choose to believe assaults over the victims.
    I hope our society would be more friendly to victims.

  5. Many years ago a woman threatened to accuse me of raping her simply because I refused to lie for her. She even acted out in detail the lies she would tell the police, and it was scarily convincing to listen to. It was a horrifying place to be in, to be threatened with false accusations of sexual abuse.

    But being Autistic I absolutely refused to lie for her, and in the end she never carried out her threat, I have no idea why.

    Despite my ordeal however, I still hate it when I hear about rape victims being treat like liars. The number of genuine rapes far outnumbers the false accusations by a long way, and the norm should be to assume the victim is being genuine, not that they are making it up.

    I am so sorry that you had to go through that Jess, it’s horrific that anyone can physically subdue and abuse someone like that.

    I can’t pretend to know what it’s like to get raped (though I came close when I was a kid and had to run away from a perverted old man), but it still upsets me when I think of that appending to another human being.

  6. Jess, keep speaking, keep telling your story. For other women to find their own voices they need to hear ours. My father raped me when I was 3 and for the next 13 years I lived in his hell. I needed to hear the voices of other survivors before I could find my own. Hugs, love and strength from me to you.

  7. Thank you for having the courage to share your story on such a large platform. As a survivor of rape myself over 20 years ago, who remained silent until it almost killed me, I have learned that it is our voices, our unwillingness to remain quiet that will be the force for change.

  8. There are very few people in my world who know the darkest part of my story. None of my family knows. Because they don’t know they don’t understand the need to protect those who are scared to speak. They don’t understand why I won’t let go of injustices when I see them. Oh the names I’ve been called for setting boundaries.
    His actions were cruel and selfish and were his alone. Its not my shame to carry, yet I did for years. The shame almost killed me more than once. There are still days I have to be gentle with myself, reminding myself that my value and worth are not based on his actions and choices. Thank you Jess for choosing to be brave, for giving this community a safe place to acknowledge we are still here and not defined by the choices of others

  9. Jess,
    You don’t know me. But I am so very proud of you. I am a survivor of both CSA and rape. I have told my story of the CSA, but I am yet to find the strength to speak about my rape. I was an adult entertainer at the time. The man who raped me was well known to my friends and I. He was a “nice guy”. People would blame me. His friend filmed the whole thing. Including me “consenting”. What wasn’t shown was the guy with the camera, also had a gun.
    Maybe one day, I will tell my story.

  10. I was four. It lasted until I was fourteen. He died just over a year ago. My protector became my perpetrator. For years I kept silent – after all, our city police department failed me when I turned him in for possession of child pornography. Why would they believe something worse if they can turn a blind eye to that? I was a child. I still struggle to tell my story. I am so grateful you were able to share yours – it has given me more strength and courage to maybe one day come clean.

  11. Hugging you right now. And thanks for writing this. You have put words to countless rape victims’ ordeal. And you rose above this otherwise disabling circumstance. You are inspiring.

  12. Rape is disgusting at me. The silencing at its victims, the forced submission at its victims, the lack of control at its victims, the stain of a memory at its victims. It is probably the most disgusting. That people look at me and say something is wrong at me, then look at a man like him and say he is good at a man. Good job society…

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