As many of you have probably have, I grew up watching reruns of The Cosby Show. Cliff Huxtable, played by Bill Cosby, was a father most anyone could love. He was kind, considerate, loving to his wife, a good father to his children. He was also, in a way, a perfect representation of what fatherhood should be: a process in which young people, shielded and protected by their parents, are allowed to grow without fear of rejection from within the home.
Unfortunately, some empires tend to fall.
When I heard about the accusations against Cosby, I thought, Surely it can’t be this Bill Cosby. It had to be someone else? Right? How could Bill Cosby, the man who played Cliff Huxtable, be accused of such crimes?
Thing was: the accusations were against the beloved Bill (Cliff Huxtable) Cosby, and as they continued to come in, the horror of the situation became very, very clear. A divide was forged, sides taken. Some favored the victims while others defended the predator. There was no way to tell who thought what of whom, and as a result of that, talking about sexual assault became very hard, especially for people like me.
Not many people may be aware of this, but I also fell prey to a predator like this once.
I’ll put a full stop right here and say that I don’t consider myself to be a victim of sexual assault—at least, not in the way that Cosby’s victims were. While I was, in fact, forced to submit to certain actions out of the need to protect my safety man, I was not raped, or drugged. However—after being triggered by an event that went on that night, I was unable to fully consent to the actions and events that occurred thereafter. I thought, This is what I need to do to protect myself. And I did.
My story is simple:
While living in Austin, Texas some three years ago, I went out with someone I considered a friend—believing, at the start of this outing, that we were simply going out to chat and eat pizza at a local restaurant. This man—whose name I can’t even recall anymore mostly because of PTSD—picked me up in his car, drove me to the restaurant, then ordered pizza and drinks for the both of us. We talked. We laughed. We had a good time. Then he pulled his phone out and showed me a video of what he claimed was an underage child, and triggered me so badly that I entered a fight or flight state.
I won’t go into details about the events that occurred thereafter. I will say that, after this moment, this individual did the best he could to isolate me from other people. We left in his car, went to a secluded place on the highway, he performed sex-acts on me that I could not willingly consent to due to my state of mind, and then took me to a pornography store that featured private rooms and did the same thing again. There was no way I could leave—at least, at the time. I was trapped by my emotions, and rather than risk being stranded in the middle of nowhere without transportation, my mentally-ill brain thought it would be best to remain with said individual. I thought, I’m overreacting. This can’t be what’s really happening.
Thing is: it was happening, and I was a victim in the center stage of it all.
While I came out of it mostly unscathed, I am still haunted by these events whenever I think about them. I was not even concerned for myself at this point, but more for the underage person whom was on his phone—and whom he’d claimed to have met with himself.
You might be wondering: why do I mention this? Because in the wake of the #MeToo movement, it became somewhat acceptable to come out and share our stories—the stories of people who fell prey to others. While there were people who decried the movement (and still decry it to this day,) it offered a voice to those of us who felt they couldn’t speak before.
In this regard, I only have one thing to say:
Justice may have been served against Cosby in that he will go to jail for his crimes, but Cosby’s victims—and victims of sexual assault in general—are never free of the acts that have been committed upon them. There is always a great divide within them that questions whether or not they should trust someone, whether they should be alone with them, whether they should be willing to become isolated with them. Experiences like those depicted in the #MeToo movement inflict wounds that, while eventually able to somewhat heal and scar, always remain. And that, unfortunately, is a truth that cannot be erased.