Cosby, credibility, and when truth seems false

Another survivor has come forward. She tells a similar story: Bill Cosby drugged her and assaulted her.

You’ve gotta wonder how many more there are, how many more will come forward, and how many won’t. You’ve gotta wonder how his wife must feel. She’s stood by her man this long; she’s been praised and criticized for it. She’ll be praised and criticized if she walks away, but the criticism will be harder to handle because, at the end of the day, she’ll be on her own.

What do you do when you find out your loved one is a monster? Maybe she knew, blatantly or just deep down, but when the rest of the world knows, it becomes so much more real.

Because it’s easy to pretend to be happy, to try to live up to what your relationship seemed to be for so long on the surface. It’s easy to believe someone who you’ve grown to love and trust and rely on.

I think about my ex at times like these. It’s hard to even decide whether I should call him “my ex” or “my abuser.” It’s hard to look back at anything from that two-year period positively because now I know that every kind word and gesture, every time he went out of his way for me, it was all part of a trap; it was an elaborate effort to make me trust him, love him, and need him so that it’d be harder for me to leave.

And I think about the reality he painted for me. I think about how everything was my fault. He drank because he was upset that i wasn’t speaking to him again, or he hit me because I provoked him. I think about all the times that he told me things were getting better, and I trusted him and the picture that he painted because it made so much more sense than the truth — and it was what I wanted to believe.

I wanted to be part of a power couple. I loved the traveling, the excitement, the passion, the rush. I loved how wholesome we looked on the outside.

I know how confusing it must be when someone has worked hard to earn your trust and then completely betrays you. You don’t expect it, you don’t believe it. And when they apologize and work hard to re-earn your trust, you’re likely to forgive. You know this person, and they know you, and they play on your vulnerabilities to make you feel somehow responsible.

And there will always be people who look into your history and find reasons to argue that you’re not credible. It’s the same situation for human trafficking survivors – pimps and traffickers know what kinds of young girls (and boys) to prey on. Who’s going to believe the troubled teenager who comes from a broken home? Or the illegal immigrant? Who’s going to believe them over someone who is richer and stronger and more powerful? Who’s going to believe them over the diplomat?

Who’s going to believe a young, starving actress over the lovable, successful Bill Cosby?

You look at these charming, successful people and think, “Why would he commit this crime?” It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense to anyone, not even the victims themselves, and so instead we revert to our preconceived notions in an attempt to make sense of something that doesn’t make any sense at all. She’s just a tramp trying to tarnish his image. She’s just a crazy ex-girlfriend.

And the pimps and the rapists and the abusers get away with it time and again.

I know the connection isn’t that clear, but I guess I just hope you’ll consider all of this together if and when you cast doubt on the women who have bravely shared their stories of sexual assault at the hands of Bill Cosby, if and when you judge Camille Cosby, if and when you ever pass judgment or cast doubt on someone’s testimony of their lived experience. Because reality doesn’t always make sense.

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