To date, there have been at least 58 women who have accused Bill Cosby of some form of sexual assault since the 1990s.
Finally, on May 24, 2016, a Pennsylvania judge has ordered Cosby to stand trial in July for a 2004 aggravated sexual-assault charge. For those of us who understand the complex dynamics of reporting a sex crime–the dismal statistics about prosecution and conviction in these types of crimes (especially for men who are celebrities)–today is the beginning of a long journey we will be following closely.
As someone who grew up watching the Cosby Show, (I was the same age as his TV daughter Vanessa), and listening to the Greatest Hits of Bill Cosby with my parents and my children, it has devastated me to come to grips with the difference between who Dr. Huxtable was and the despicableness of the man who portrayed him.
I feel betrayed and angry, not just because of the trust he created for an entire generation of people, but because while he did so, he was drugging women to rape them. He is a rapist; I believe this to the core of my being, even as I want to deny it everyday.
As with other high profile cases that involve media coverage, survivors can have trauma responses. The news surrounding Cosby yesterday and throughout his trial will involve rape. My phone updated me on the case six times as the news was breaking, and I know this will go on indefinitely. I take solace in the fact that there is a local organization full of amazing, committed people who are working right here: the people of Rape Trauma Services .
For those of us who are survivors and/or support survivors, it is important that we take the time to take care of ourselves and others during this time. We may see an increase in crisis calls, whether on the crisis line or from our friends and family, having reactions ranging from supportive of the perpetrator or the survivors.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the news, the situation in general, or would like to talk to someone about sexual assault, please use our 24 hour crisis line: 650-692-7273. We have amazing volunteers ready and willing to talk to you anytime. Healing from such a betrayal takes time, patience and community support. I hope that RTS can play a role in our collective healing–I know I count on it for mine.
Amanda LeBlanc Freeman
Program Director, Rape Trauma Services