There Is At Least One Liar In The Ongoing Cosby Scandal
It’s funny how the same facts can inspire such wildly different conclusions. The fact that more than a dozen women have accused Bill Cosby of various forms of sexual misconduct has divided my peers into two groups – those that believe that Cosby is a sexual predator whom we have excused for years and those who believe that Cosby is the target of a massive effort to undermine an idol using false accusations. There are also a few folks who claim that they’re staying neutral until more “facts” comes to light. As there is no criminal or civil adjudication under way at the moment, I’m not quite sure what facts people expect to emerge. There is a very good chance that we will never learn anything more beyond what these women have already shared.
With this said, there is one certain untruth making the rounds and it comes from Cosby’s attorney, who said that “it is completely illogical that so many people would have said nothing, done nothing and made no reports to law enforcement or asserted civil claims if they thought that they had been assaulted over a span of so many years.”
The only people who know for certain how they would react to sexual victimization are those who have survived it. The rest of us can only speculate about what we would do. As outside observers, the reactions of survivors might not always make perfect sense to us. But why would we expect them to when we can never fully empathize with what they have experienced?
Here are some of the questions that are bouncing around the Cosby scandal:
Question: If Cosby really did those things, why did the women wait until now to say anything?
Answer: It’s more than reasonable that the needs of a survivor might change over time. What a person sees as pertinent to their immediate recovery might certainly be different from what a person sees as important after decades of processing and knowledge of other victims.
Question: Why didn’t any of these women press criminal charges against Cosby?
Answer: Many survivors see criminal adjudication as essential but not all. Some would rather not subject themselves to the scrutiny that inevitably comes with public allegations and some have little faith in local authorities to fairly handle their allegations. Others just see putting the experience behind them as the best way to proceed.
Question: Aren’t these accusers just gold diggers trying to get their hands on Cosby’s financial fortune?
Answer: Perhaps but we cannot assume an alleged perpetrator is innocent solely because he is wealthy. Wealthy folks can commit horrible acts the same as the rest of us. Furthermore, the wealth of reports not accompanied by civil action (anonymous or otherwise) demonstrates that monetary gain is far from the only factor that drives survivors to act.
The bottom line is that the motivations of survivors are complex. Everyone who survives violence has a unique set of needs and fears. The journey to healing varies for everyone and there are often stages. The authenticity of this journey cannot be evaluated by formulaic assumptions such as all “real” survivors would seek immediate civil and criminal actions because survivors are, you know, human. Fortunately, I know these things because I was blessed to know survivors who thought enough of me to share their stories with me. I don’t know any of the parties involved in the ongoing Cosby scandal but I know for sure that at least one of them – Cosby’s attorney – has put forth a lie.