I was watching The View and I was quite flabbergasted. They were talking about the allegations about Mr. Cosby and the fifteen, I think it is now, accusers that say he raped them. I was upset at the side talking and swaying of the issue. Now, I don't always agree with Rosie O'Donnell's views but in this case I agreed wholeheartedly. The other's seemed to side track the issue and remain muted on the actual subject of rape. They made it about media slander and if there is a media slander going on anywhere let me tell you, just read the comments people are saying about these women accusing Mr. Cosby of rape.
It is beyond disheartening the way other people have dragged their names and assumed personal characters through the mud.
I do not know if Mr. Cosby did what he is accused of. I do have an opinion on it, but that isn't even the point of this post. The point of this post is to clear up the overwhelming amount of ignorance there seems to be in the mass public about sexual assault and rape. And as sexual assault victim it really bothers me.
The things I have read and the victim shaming and blaming really upset me. Questions like, "Who waits thirty years to report a rape?" or "Why didn't they go to the police?" It seems like these would be easy questions to answer but they aren't.
In this country, 60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. I know I did not report my assault. I was young, I was scared, and I was ashamed. I never spoke about it in a public way until last year. That means I didn't openly discuss it for...21 years. That in no way means that I made it up or I wanted attention. I only decided to post about it earlier this year because one of my dear friends convinced me to in hopes that it may help someone else struggling with sexual assault issues. Otherwise, I may have never discussed it all. Not because it didn't affect me but because it did affect me and I don't like to relive it.
Sadly still in this day and age, many survivors do not report their rape or sexual assault. Even when they do only a staggering 3% of rapes get a conviction. That means that 97% of reported rapes and sexual assaults go unpunished by our legal system.
And why do survivors end up not reporting their rape or sexual assault? It hurts so much and the shame is so overwhelming. Having to relive the painful act over and over. Having to tell strangers or even worse our loved ones the unspeakable things that were done to us is devastating. The feeling that somehow it is our fault or that we did something to provoke an unwanted attack. After all, we are often times told by ill informed individuals, that if we had done something differently we might have been spared. Rape is an act not a consequence and yet often times it is implied that it is a consequence of something that we, the survivors, have done.
We don't report it for many reasons but a big reason is the exact thing these women are getting now with these comments. Victim blaming, "Why did she get so drunk then?" or "Why did she go back again?" or "Why did she take that pill he gave?". Sure things are better now in 2014 than they were in the 60's and 70's when it comes to prosecution of rape but lets be real for a second. How many times have you heard someone say it is a woman's fault for being so drunk? Or that she had some culpability because she was drinking, or walking alone at night, or dressed in a tight outfit? Like doing any of these things is a big sign that you are open to being sexually assaulted. Like these things make rape acceptable in some way. That kind of ignorance is still out there and it is still said out loud. Disgusting as it may be, there are people who still think this way. In the sixties and seventies there were no rape kits, no DNA evidence. It was his word against hers and the burden of proof would be hers to get him convicted or even at the very least, arrested in the first place. And just how easy do you think it would to convince a large group of people that some famous rich guy who everyone loves has raped you after you went to his room? And that you may have been drugged? And that you don't recall everything that happened because of it?
And let us not forget that as much as people want you to believe that women were," I am woman hear me roar," and "let's grow our arm pit hair long and burn our bras" in the 70's , at that time if your husband beat you, the police tended to consider it a "domestic issue" and he was often times not arrested. You were not necessarily legally protected from domestic abuse like you are now. This wasn't the television shows you see on t.v. This was reality. A reality that in the sixties women weren't even considered worthy enough to own the things we have now. You couldn't get a credit card in your name as an unmarried woman and your husband had to cosign it if you were married. You couldn't go to an Ivy league college, you couldn't serve on a jury, and you weren't even allowed to get the birth control pill unless your doctor signed off on it because you had extreme menstrual distress. There was no equality in the work place, there was no equality at all and yet some people still sit behind their computer screens and ask if these allegations were true, why they did not go to the police.....I don't ask why not, I ask why would they? What would have been done? Nothing most likely, except that other people would have blamed them, openly talked bad about them, and would have made misguided judgments about their character. (Guess that last part still hasn't changed much, has it.)
And rape isn't always like you see on television either. Not everyone screams no and fights. Some people don't fight. Some people can't fight and some people freeze. And no, not everyone runs away afterwards. Some people are in a state of shock that can take hours if not even days to really come to grips with what has happened to them. And for some people it takes years. So it is not that much of a stretch for me to believe that some of these women may have stayed in his hotel or condo for a few days after he left them there confused and sore. Especially, if they were drinking heavily or using drugs. They may have simply been so in shock that they were unsure what else to do. It happens.
There is still a double standard with these kind of allegations. There was no huge outpouring of comments claiming that the men who had been raped and assaulted by Jerry Sandusky were just saying that to get money. Even though many of the claims had been done years after the assaults took place. There was an overwhelming amount of support for his victims. People were appalled. However, when several women come forward with disturbingly similar stories about Mr. Cosby all of a sudden it is not because they are victims, it is for their fifteen minutes of fame or they just want to cash in on it. They are all in cahoots. They just want to ruin a man they don't even know even though they receive nothing for their efforts. He can not be prosecuted due to time restraints. He does not have to settle in court for these particular allegations. What would be the purpose of raising these allegations if there wasn't some truth to them?
And probably the biggest thing that pisses me off about this whole thing is the idea that because Mr. Cosby has had such success and played such monumental characters that we feel like we know him or that he is like "America's Dad" people say he could not be a rapist. How could he be the thing that goes bump in the night? He could have any woman in the world why would he rape? ect. ect. ect.
We do not want to believe it and I understand that. I don't want to believe it either but not wanting to believe something doesn't make it not true.
Let me paint a different and yet oh so similar picture for you. There once was a doting father, a singer, a well respected community leader. He was a father of four. A "loving" husband. He was a former soldier. He was the ideal of what an "American Dad" should look like. He was holy and God fearing. Clean shaven and wore suits. He was even a well known Southern Baptist preacher in the area. Everyone loved him and he could in fact, have just about any woman he wanted. And he did have them. But that didn't stop him from raping and assaulting his two daughters from the ages of seven until they were sixteen and fifteen. Now, I don't want to believe that my grandfather was a rapist, a pedophile, a molester, a sexual deviant....but that doesn't make it not true. He was and no one on the outside looking in would have ever suspected it. No one would have believed it, and they didn't believe it when they were told. And just so we are clear, this happened in the 60's and 70's. So don't sit there and tell me that not only is it impossible that someone who is seen as a "hero" could easily get away with that kind of crime, but that you would be believed if you went to the police and reported it. Because I am here to tell you that is complete bullshit. And just to quell any questions about time being a factor in the truth of accusations, my mother and aunt waited almost thirty years before they started openly talking about it. The thirty years they did not speak of it does not make it any less true or as some commentators have suggested, made it any less devastating. Simply because someone doesn't report it for decades or even never reports it all, does not mean that it did not affect them in a horribly disfiguring way. That is just crazy.
I am not saying that Mr. Cosby did this. What I am saying is that the reasons people give for not believing the allegations are born of ignorance and bias. You can not say someone isn't a rapist because he/she seems to be the perfect father figure/mother figure. You can not say that someone isn't an offender just because of the wonderful success they have had. You can not predict how a rape victim will act or say how they should react to being raped. That is ridiculous. It's unfair and it is ignorant. You can not simply say an accusation is not true because the accuser acts in a way you find to be different than how you think you would react in that situation. Every rape is different just as every situation is different and unless you have been raped or assaulted then in my opinion you have no right to judge what actual victims do or don't do afterwards.
Being a survivor of a sexual assault, the daughter and niece of survivors, the great grand daughter of a survivor, the sister of a survivor, and the friend of many survivors I feel the need to stand up for these women. I feel the responsibility to stand up for all survivors of sexual abuse and sexual assault. Whether it be men, women, or children. For as survivors, if we sit on the fence or accept other people's ignorance when it comes to why survivors wait, or don't report, or allow others to victim blame then we have failed them and ourselves. Rape is not a choice. It is not a consequence. It is never okay. And those who report it should be looked upon with respect and compassion because they are brave. They were able to do something many are too afraid to do and they should not be punished for doing so. They should be believed and they should be treated like the human beings that they are. It is always easy to judge others form behind a computer screen because what they are claiming may not be what you want to hear, but I have to ask you this:
Would be so quick to judge these women if they were your daughter, your sister, your aunt, your wife, your girlfriend, or your mother?
Because 1 out of 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.
Would you look your loved one in the eye and ask the questions you keep asking these women? Would you ask your loved one if she was just "making it up" for fame or money? Would you tell her it happened to her because she was careless or asked for it? Or claim that it was just a "relationship gone wrong"? And how would you feel if someone said that about them after they had been victimized over and over again, first by their rapist and secondly by ignorant people that felt they knew how "a rape victim should act"?
Because when you judge these women that have come forward to tell their stories, that is what you are doing. Telling them that you know more about their rape then they do.
And that is completely unacceptable.