The Mighty Logo

What to Remember If the Bill Cosby News Is Triggering

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

When I turned on the news today and heard that Bill Cosby was being released from prison after his sexual assault charges were overturned by the highest court in the state of Pennsylvania, my heart sank and my rage erupted like Mount St. Helens with fury. For what seems like every step forward survivors of sexual assault take in this era of the #MeToo movement, it feels like we get the rug ripped out from underneath us and lose our footing taking not just steps backward but realizing that no matter how hard we try, justice is not something that we can come by in a patriarchal world. 

• What is PTSD?

Make no mistake: our legal system and institutions aren’t designed to protect the rights of victims of sexual violence. Even when victims report abuse or assault, they are seldom believed and are put through excruciatingly retraumatizing interrogations to prove the validity of their allegations. Victims are blamed for their actions or inactions — What were you wearing? Were you drunk? Did you clearly say no? — as if the victims somehow brought the crimes committed against them upon themselves. It’s dehumanizing, demoralizing and sends the message that our lives are somehow expendable.

When a sexual assault charge does finally stick and a conviction is handed down, many survivors feel intense relief and collective vindication. This is what occurred when Bill Cosby finally went to jail. I personally felt like my own abuser was being held culpable for his crimes, something I have longed for but knew would never happen. For many victims, whether because of the statute of limitations, lack of evidence, shame, familial loyalty, financial instability or any other number of issues, they never get the opportunity to confront their perpetrators or hold them accountable in any meaningful way. Seeing the victims of similar crimes get their day in court and the perpetrators be prosecuted is cathartic and healing.

It’s further evidence that our bodies and lives don’t matter, that we are expendable; that actors, athletes, political parties and religious institutions have the power to operate outside the scope of rules of law and any kind of system of morality. Frankly, it feels like a giant collective “f&@€ you” from the world to survivors and it’s hostile.

If you are a survivor struggling to reconcile what has happened with Bill Cosby, please know you are not alone. You have every right to be angry, resentful and frustrated. I’m all of those things too. But… my resolve to fight for the rights and voices of survivors is not diminished. It is my mission for as long as I am alive to not only make sure our stories are heard and justice carried out, but to attempt in every way I can to prevent similar atrocities from happening to future generations. Your truth deserves to be told and nobody can take that away from you. It is my sincere belief that the more of us who share our stories, the less society can ignore us. Perpetrators will be prosecuted and justice will be found.

Image via YouTube

Originally published: July 1, 2021
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home