I listened to the news about Bill Cosby last night. The channel I listened to had two of his victims on and as I listened I felt the rage rise in me. They were brave people but talked about what it felt like to know no one would listen or believe and to know that a rich and powerful person had an army of lawyers who only job was to protect him from justice. One of them talked about her statute of limitations being past and knowing that nothing would ever happen to him for what he had done to her and I knew her injury knew no statute of limitations. He could walk away. She never would.
They talked about the importance of speaking out and that silence is justice denied. They talked about his power and his meanness and his evil and the absolute obliteration of trust and faith. And they said speaking out was the only way to reclaim their lives. As long as the victims spoke the abusers were never truly safe. They wanted their lives back.
Bill Cosby may never be charged but finally he is being called to account. The life he knew is over and all that is left to him is excuses and memories.
I know about Bill Cosby’s. There was one in my life. I have never really talked about it. Until today.
When I was 13 years old I was sexually abused. My abuser had a lot of power, a lot of prestige. He was my pediatrician. The abuse went on for about 8 months. I never told.
Not only was my abuser my pediatrician he was a major in the Air Force. His father in law was a national hero and shortly after that ran for Vice President (wasnt elected). He was in every way my Bill Cosby.
I was more afraid of what would happen if I did tell than I was by what was happening. One of my life long regrets was that my mom and dad died and I never told. I often wondered how much guilt they must had for all the things they saw me try to deal with.
I dont know why I never told. Back then you just didnt. Even as a 13 year old I understood that other people knowing would be a catastrophe. And I thought silence was the best solution. I knew about fear. I knew about terror. I knew about shame. And I knew no one could know about me.
The only person I ever told was Linda and I knew I was safe with her.
It has been 50 years and I can still close my eyes and be there. I look back and see how many ways it has affected me and how much it has defined who I am and the way I have lived. As a child I was always really shy and I think that is one of the reasons he picked me out. Afterwords I was way past shy. I was always alone. Other people being around could never affect that. Being social just eluded me. In one sense I guess I was stuck in time. Maybe I never got past the little boy.
For many years I just tried to ignore the hurt and it took me a long time to understand that the consequences of what had happened had consequences. It was over but it really wasnt over. My life had a trajectory that sometimes blindsided me, often scared me and often left me unsure and wary for reasons I never really understood.
Someone once told me I was consumed with injustice and maybe so. I knew there were a lot of Bill Cosby’s and many people hurt. I got involved in the mental health field and met so many people hurt so badly who were told there problem was the disease they supposedly had. I knew that trying to help hurt people had to have something to do with addressing the injustice and hurt in their life and helping they to find new trajectory and new direction when all doors seemed shut. I didnt think a system content to tell people what was wrong with them without acknowledging and facing the wrong done to them could ever have much of a lasting impact.
I am a strong and resilient person. I know about injustice in life. But I have learned also that what is hard or painful need not define me. Injustice wins when it defines who I am. It wins when it defines who you are. It wins when it defines what is real or what is possible or what is worth believing in. Sometimes it takes a long time for hurt to go away. Some hurt never wants to go away. It wants you to believe it is the only thing, the only reality. It is not.
Sometimes you feel tricked. You think you are past it and then something happens and something triggers it and you are in a place you swore you would never go again. Last night was like that for me.
My Bill Cosby is long since dead and he can do more. I dont know if you know a Bill Cosby or know someone who knows one but I hope you will never be content to accept their lies. I hope you will reclaim your life, your hopes. I hope you will understand that the world need not be the way they define it but that definition is something you can still do. It is still your life and they can never have it.
I would like a mental health system more about justice. I would like a system that deals honestly with hurt and injury and one that deals honestly with resiliency and human strength.
I wish I could personally thank the ladies on TV last night. Their courage and determination gave me hope.
And if what I have written even gives one person a little bit of the same hope it will be worth the writing.