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Remembering a rape | Leaving the Deserted Alley

“There have been a lot of responses to the Cosby “Rape” Allegations but I think this one speak so succinctly to the mind of the rape “victim” and how it’s possible to keep it unreported for years.” NB

Remembering a rape/Leaving the deserted alley

The Bill Cosby rape allegations really started getting to me right around the time Philadelphia magazine’s Victor Fiorillo announced he was writing a theater piece about them. As a theater critic, I found myself one step deeper insidethe widening circle of accusations. But it wasn’t just that. I was raped in high school, or, more accurately, during the summer between my freshman and sophomore years.

(Photo by Pablo Vazquez, via Creative Commons/deviantart.com)

Fiorillo, discussing the accusations on WHYY’s Radio Times, mentioned Judy Huth, who filed suit against Cosby in California for an alleged molestation that occurred when she was 15. In Pennsylvania, Fiorillo said, the statute of limitations for statutory sexual assault, a second-degree felony, doesn’t run out until the victim turns 50. I’m 45. I never knew.

With each new woman who stepped forward to accuse Cosby, with Rolling Stone’s UVA story falling to pieces and potentially damaging the credibility of a new generation of victims, my own story felt perpetually pressed against my throat,forcing its way out. Though more than 20 women have now come forward,
when my husband, an attorney with an almost unfailingly steady moral compass, watched a CNN special
with me about the case, he said, “I didn’t know what to believe until I saw their faces and heard them speak.” I was shocked. To me, from the first, their accounts held ironclad key words and themes. I knew
implicitly why regular women held back for decades, even when reporting the incident wouldn’t result in bringing down any institutions, academic or cultural. I knew I was obligated to tell my story, one that also
went unreported.

A high-school sleepover

The night I was raped, a friend whose parents were out of town hosted a sleepover. It wasn’t much as far as high school parties go — just a few girls, even fewer guys, and later, someone’s older brother and his
friend, both men in their mid-20s. There was white wine, which we drank, and much discussion of the older brother, whom the girls all liked, but who wasn’t really my type — bulldog body, cheesy mustache, slicked-back hair, his friend a shorter, stockier version pulled from the same mold.

Still, I was enough of an alpha girl to feel flattered when the older brother asked me to go upstairs with him, and insecure enough to follow. He led me into a bedroom, and whatever I imagined, a makeout session, some conversation, dissipated when he asked what I was waiting for, and roughly told me to get on the bed. Again, I did what he asked. Though it wasn’t my first time, I was disgusted, not with him, a grown man who should have known better, but with myself, for letting it happen, for being so needy, so slutty.

Afterward, I told my friends I felt sick and went to bed. I awoke to find a man on top of me. The room was dark, and, confused, I asked if it was the older brother. He answered, “Yeah, that’s who it is. Go back to
sleep.” It wasn’t; it was his friend. I didn’t fight back, because if  my own friends hadn’t protected me, hadn’t told him to leave me alone, what was the point? Instead, I waited for it to end, and when it did, he
left and again, I listened; I went back to sleep.

What could they do?

In the morning, furious, I asked my friends why they let him come upstairs. They said they didn’t know what was happening, but even if they did, what could they have done? These were men; we were girls. We
let them in and flirted with them and got what we deserved. I called my mother to pick me up. Later, rumors spread throughout our school about what I did that night. I told some of the girls I was talking to a lawyer about pressing charges, but I wasn’t. I just wanted them to know that what happened was wrong.

I got on with my life, and the decades slid past. Occasionally, some news story or Facebook post would trigger my memories, and I’d be right back in that room, waiting for it to end, but mostly, I shoved them
away. Except now, the memories shoved back. I frightened my teen daughter with warnings about serial killers, drugged drinks at parties, and the importance of traveling in groups. I indoctrinated my teen son
about rape culture and the necessity of stepping forward if he saw intoxicated friends or strangers at a party and the situation didn’t  look or feel right. It was all good advice, but delivered with a shrill sense of panic. My internal struggles were leaking into my parenting, and for the first time, I told my husband of 20 years what happened, in detail.

Saying nothing then . . .

I didn’t report my rape when it happened 30 years ago, and here’s why: I was embarrassed. The rapist was connected to friends. I was certain my own friends knew what was happening, and no one stopped it. I was so young. I didn’t know his last name. I didn’t want my friend to get in trouble for hosting the party. Within the course of that year, both of my grandmothers passed away, my parents separated, and a classmate who was there that evening was killed in a car crash. I was dealing with enough. I thought I brought it on myself. I thought it would be expensive and difficult. I was afraid my dad and brother might try to settle the issue on their own. I wanted to forget it happened. I thought I was fine.

A few years ago, I visited a therapist and mentioned the incident in a cavalier manner. “But,” she said, “you know that was rape.”

“Yeah, I know,” I answered, “but I’m fine. I’m over it.” I’m not.

If I was unwilling to report the nobody who raped me, when I had a supportive family, access to an attorney, witnesses, proof, and people who could find him, why would anyone imagine that these women, with their own lives and struggles, would report Bill Cosby at the height of his powers? Sometimes it takes a while to gain back that inner fortitude. Sometimes it takes 30 years.

. . . but now?

I’m now faced with a dilemma. Learning there are five years left on the statute of limitations is a gift because it puts power I never knew I  had squarely into my hands. Recently, my daughter and I watched an episode of The Sopranos in which Dr. Melfi, Tony’s therapist, holds onto the knowledge that if she wanted, she could ask Tony to do away with her rapist at any time. Just owning that knowledge was enough power for her. My daughter couldn’t understand why she didn’t use it, but I could.

The night after learning I could still press charges, I lay in bed, thrilled and terrified. I kept second-guessing my age at the time, until I remembered a box in our basement that held all my old diaries. I rummaged around until I found an electric blue one decorated with hearts and song lyrics and boyfriends’ names. Sure enough, there was a dated entry referring specifically to the men involved and what they did.

“Well, anyway,” I concluded, “that happened.” Even then, in my own diary, I tried to erase it away, and yet it remains all these years later, tangible evidence that rape refuses to disappear, no matter how hard you try to suppress it. Khaled Hosseini wrote in The Kite Runner, “The past claws its way out. Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last 26 years.”

Where is he now?

Still, I wonder if the man who raped me cleaned up his act. Maybe he has a wife and children and a job, and I feel protective of them, even as I try to protect myself. Statutory sexual assault is a second-degree felony and can carry with it a ten-year sentence. Maybe I should leave him alone and assume karma had its way with him. After all, he didn’t seem to be headed for greatness. And then I read the statistics: nine out of ten campus rapes are committed by serial rapists. My circumstances were different, but I wonder if I’m his only victim, who else he attacked after I didn’t report him, or if he’s still attacking.

I still don’t know what I’ll do with this new information, but I’m grateful to the brave women who came  forward en masse to hold Bill Cosby accountable for his alleged crimes. I know why they waited so long and why they stopped waiting, and I also know that if it weren’t for their strength, I might never have found mine.

Re-printed from: Remembering a rape | Broad Street Review

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Camille Cosby, Another Victim of Controversy?

To be honest, I was trying to figure out what it was about this whole situation that made me feel a deep sadness withing my self. How can this be? Cosby? A sexual predator? The man who made me laugh throughout my childhood and the same man whom I shared that laughter with my own children? This man?

Well of course we know what happens behind closed doors in Hollywood, it’s no big secret, it ain’t even a conspiracy theory. It’s fact, pure and simple. Men prey on women, women prey on men, and let’s not forget what happens to the under aged youth who end up in this mess. But something about this made me feel a deep sadness and this article, see below, helped me get it. It’s Camille.

Dr. Camille Cosby

She is such a beautiful person. Why do I say that? How do I know? Because my group, the “Voices Of Africa” Choral and Percussion Ensemble performed at their daughter’s Erinn’s wedding at their beautiful Elkins Park Estate. That’s how I know. It was Camille who made it a beautiful experience for all of us. She was gracious, loving and kind and through it all, as it was shortly after their son, Ennis, death.

VOA @ Errin Cosby’s Wedding, circa 1998

She was radiant and absolutely breathtaking in her appearance and demeanor and despite all the legal papers we had to sign swearing us to secrecy that we would not breath a word of it, or tell even our closest friends that we were there, she made sure we were featured in the middle section of the Jet Magazine. That was Camille. And after that she supported us with donations so that we could go to Ghana, West Africa! How do I know that? She hugged me and I felt her.

But I must agree with this writer, quiet as it’s kept, while it may be the end of the road for Cosby’s career, it’s the end of the road for the life of denial that she lived for 50 years. How does one so beautiful, so poised and so committed to her family and husband live a lie for 50 years and survive it?

Too often in cased of child molestation, sexual assault and sexual indiscretions perpetrated by the men, and even women in this society, the person who is most hurt and most traumatized by it is the wife, spouse or partner of the accused. Particularly, if they are the public face of the perpetrator. How do they look themselves in the mirror, day after day, month after month, year after year counting on to 50 years???

What has to be the deepest incessant turmoil that goes on in the family for a woman, spouse or partner that decides to stay despite it all? Can that destructive pain and denial have a face other than sheer goulish nightmarish horror? Where do they put their true feelings, their true face, their true rage?

Who can have any semblance of trust ever again for a spouse or partner who completely humiliates you before the eyes of the entire world? A secret that is guarded by them that is not a secret at all, but a blatant slap in the face and a devastating assault on all that you may describe as integrity?

Coming up from under this shroud may be the best thing to happen for Camille or maybe the worst. Today we have Social Media. It can take a tiny grain of sand and transform it into a meteor hurling through space to strike and destroy the entire earth! In a heartbeat, even the most pristine of public images can be tarnish beyond repair. With Social Media, even Camille can no longer be in denial of what has been happening in and to her life for 50years.

Was there anything that she could gain from being by the side of this man, Cosby? Why did she stay after she learned of the first discretion and affront to familial trust? She was young, inexperienced, a mother of five and eventhough she eventually acquired her own stature by going to college and getting a PhD, she discarded, only on some levels, Cosby Shadow, and carried her own. In fact, she adorned her own in the glamor of her own beauty, poise and grace. She hid behind her own wall.

Camille is and was no slouch. She had gained her own place in the sun and it was quite clear while we were in their presence who ran the show around there. She conducted every thing. She managed everything. She made everything happen. But, she did not step outside of the boundaries to decry, how painfully insensitive and dibilitating Cosby’s behavior was. We felt it, there was a war going on. The undercurrent of protestations and rankling was real and quite present. I felt it. Other events insued afterwards that confirmed my intuition about this war that I will not go into, but I could see past the plastic smiles. Having been married myself, I could sense that something was a bit amiss in the Cosby household.

No matter how much lipstick you put on a pig, it’s still gonna be a pig. And now, the clearing, the cleansing and the erasing has begun. My heart breaks for Camille. She did that for 50 years and unlike nowadays where we have these celebs with open marriages or consecutive marriages, we are looking at a woman who came up in a time where marriage was a sacred union, till death do you part, even if the marriage itself is a death sentence.

A beautiful flower, plucked from the garden and placed in a plastic sheeting to last, for all to see. My Beloved Camille, may you find your true voice and your true love, YOU!

Camille Cosby, another victim of controversy? (Opinion) – CNN.com

Editor’s note: Blue Telusma is a Washington-based writer for theGrio.com, an online venue devoted to perspectives that affect and reflect the African-American community. Follow @theGrio on Twitter or like it on Facebook. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. Follow her on Twitter.

(CNN) — Camille Olivia Hanks was studying at the University of Maryland when she met Bill Cosby in the early ’60s. He was doing stand-up comedy in Washington when the two were set up on a blind
date. They fell in love and she left school to support his burgeoning career in entertainment.

By 1964, the two were married and they would go on to have five children together. In 1997, their son Ennis (who inspired the character Theo Huxtable) was murdered, and a few years later Dr. Camille Cosby did a one-on-one with Oprah explaining how she’d eventually been able to find joy after mourning the loss of a child.

Throughout that interview it was so clear that you were looking at the real-life Clair Huxtable that even Oprah seemed a bit star-struck by her poise and grace.

During her 2000 appearance on Oprah, Camille revealed:
“I became keenly aware of myself in my mid-thirties. I went through a transition. I decided to go back to school, because I had dropped out of college to marry Bill when I was 19. I had five children, and I decided to go back. I didn’t feel fulfilled educationally. I dropped out of school at the end of my sophomore year. So I went back, and when I did, my self-esteem grew. I got my master’s, then decided to get my doctoral degree. Education helped me to come out of myself.”

When asked why she wasn’t content to just settle for being the wife of a famous entertainer she continued:
“I don’t know exactly what it was, except that for me, integrity is important. For me friendships are important, family is important, and it is a blessing if we can have monetary benefits. That’s wonderful, and I love it. But I have to have the security of people who really care about me, and me about them. I want to be surrounded by people who have integrity. And, of course, my name is Camille, not Bill.”

That was a beautiful answer. But a lot has changed since then. These days, Camille Cosby is standing alongside her husband during what may turn out to be the worst month of his long career.

For the last few weeks, the beloved TV dad who used to sell us Jell-O pudding pops has been at the center of an ever-growing scandal. He has canceled several appearances, Netflix has postponed the launch of his stand-up special, NBC nixed plans for a new comedy show, and this week Janice Dickinson became the latest woman to make allegations against him; telling E News that he raped her in 1982 after she’d done a stint in rehab.

Cosby is arguably the most successful African-American performer in television history, but this isn’t the first time he has found himself under scrutiny for extramarital affairs.

In his biography, “Cosby: His Life and Times,”  Mark Whitaker makes mention of the legendary comedian’s “roving eye” and even tells an anecdote about how he finally cut back on his womanizing by breaking up with his long-time girlfriend. Now it seems those softball admissions about having a weakness for beautiful women may have been shrouding something much more sinister than an affair.

From thegrio.com: Dear Bill Cosby, heed your own advice and be accountable In the last decade alone, more than a dozen women have accused Cosby of rape or sexual assault. No formal charges have ever been successfully filed, so even with all the media speculation, these claims are technically only allegations. But there is one person in this melee whose anguish is virtually indisputable: his wife, Camille.

So how does a woman like that end up spending 50 years of her life beside a man who is now alleged to be a serial rapist? One can only imagine the embarrassment she must be experiencing through all this. But her dilemma is a lot more common than you may think.

In a world that asks you to be a mother, a wife, a businesswoman and an alluring sexual being, women grapple with finding the balance between respecting themselves and prioritizing their relationships. While many say they would leave a spouse who cheats, experts estimate that approximately 50-75% of couples rocked by an affair stay together.

There are many reasons why some women choose to stay: the fear of being alone, financial dependency, belief that they can alter the behavior of their mate, professional status of their partner, deep emotional investment and family obligations.

It is hard enough to come back from infidelity in private, let alone when you have the added stress of being a public figure. Both Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Edwards have weathered similar storms with men they devoted their lives to. And one could argue that it is a lose/lose situation for any wife
who finds herself in that position: If you stay, people judge you for not standing up for yourself, and if you leave there is endless speculation about why your marriage failed.

But this isn’t just a simple case of being cheated on. There are some very serious stories coming to the forefront from those who describe Cosby as a sexual predator, who for decades allegedly drugged and violated young women who looked up to him as a mentor.

During one of Cosby’s old routines, he actually jokes about drugging young women.

Coincidentally the set is from his album “It’s True! It’s True!” which was released in 1969, the same year Joan Tarshis claims he drugged and raped her.

We can only speculate on what Camille’s reasons are for staying in her marriage, when she found out about each rape claim, or whether she believes in her husband’s innocence. She’s been stoic and tight-lipped through all this, exuding the unflappable composure that she is known for.

During the Monica Lewinsky scandal, many believed that had Hillary Clinton left her husband, his political career would have collapsed. Hillary Clinton may have well understood that her marriage wasn’t just a union between a man and a woman but a much larger political machine. Perhaps Camille Cosby, who is equally responsible for her husband’s career, feels a similar responsibility to maintaining the legacy and philanthropic institution she and her husband have built together.

Few knew that in the original “Cosby Show” pitch, Bill had planned to have Heathcliff be a limousine driver who was married to a Latina handywoman. Programming executives weren’t too thrilled with that idea, but it was Camille who convinced her husband to go in another direction.

According to another excerpt in Whitaker’s book:
“The producers felt strongly that both [parents on the show] should be college graduates. As Cosby had proved in his stand-up act, the war of wits between parents and children was even funnier if the parents thought of themselves as highly intelligent people.

“Finally, shortly before 1 in the morning, Cosby said the words that made Carsey think that she might be getting someplace: ‘I think my wife would agree with you.’

” ‘You will not be a chauffeur!’ Camille said when he briefed her on the meeting. ‘Why not?’

Cosby asked. ‘Because I’m not going to be a carpenter!’ Camille said.”

That snippet gives a rare glimpse into the type of bond these two have, and also illustrates that Mrs. Cosby has not just been her husband’s muse, but also a trusted adviser who keeps his career on track, behind the scenes.

Sunday when NPR host Scott Simon asked Cosby about the resurfaced rape charges, he was met with a wall of silence. Later on, Simon admitted to CNN that during that awkward moment in the interview, the one thing he couldn’t do was look at Camille.

“I did not look at Mrs. Cosby, and I don’t mind saying I might’ve been a little uncomfortable doing that anyway,” Simon said.

That’s what many find so unsettling about all this: the deafening silence of it all. The same man who has spent years waxing poetic about every social issue under the sun has now fallen completely mute on us, with his equally reticent wife by his side.

The Cosbys’ union remains seemingly stable through half a century of life’s ups and downs, and as someone who respects the institution of marriage I find that commendable. But when does the adage of “stand by your man” go too far?
I’m rooting for black love as much as the next person — but not like this.

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