For decades, women have been claiming that comedian Bill Cosby drugged and raped them. For decades, the accusations have been dismissed or ignored. In recent years, the claims have grown, and in the past year, they have escalated and been brought to light. To judge by responses on social media, until recently, most people supported the idea that Cosby was innocent, and the accusing women were trashed very badly.
Cosby played a great father on a popular TV show, he’s appeared as an upstanding, but funny comedian in thousands of shows and publications, he’s sold humorous recordings, and he’s taken a no-nonsense stance against crime and other bad behavior. He’s a husband and a father. Who wants to believe that he’s a serial rapist? He’s “America’s Dad,” and he’s made a living portraying a good, likable guy.
And yet the stories of rape kept coming–all very similar. People–even other women–were extremely harsh on the accusers. The rape victims were called whores, sluts, skanks, gold diggers and worse. People said they were liars, they had it coming, they just wanted money, they were trying to destroy Cosby for his politics, and more. Not many people were willing to think, “hey…he seems nice, but there might be something to these accusations.” Even now that news articles are stating that Cosby admitted to drugging women over ten years ago, some people are still finding ways to blame the rape victims. Why didn’t they come forward sooner? What do they want now? Just let it go, it’s been too long. The responses are becoming less harsh as the truth comes out, but many are still degrading.
As a survivor of a Jekyll and Hyde sociopath who fools most people and has smeared me for years, I have some insight into how Cosby got away with all this, and how the victims felt. While this story is horrible, the newest revelations–proving the accusers were telling the truth and that Cosby has gotten away with rape and who knows what else for a good thirty years–give me hope. They show that sometimes a predator does get outed. Sometimes the victims finally get validation and have their names cleared. I think this is an excellent time to start educating others about the nature of two-faced sociopaths and how they often manage to turn the tables until they come out shining and their victims’ reputations are destroyed.
Since this story is in the spotlight, here are some things I think the public needs to learn from the situation:
1. Not everyone who seems fun and nice truly is. Charm is the top criteria for a sociopath and they tend to be far more charming than a normal person.
2. Because of their charm, predators are often able to minimize and rationalize their crimes–if they are caught in the first place. Usually their carefully crafted public facade keeps anyone from believing their victims.
3. Not only are victims of sociopaths disbelieved, but they are often shamed and harassed for daring to “slander” the charming predator. Victims who speak out are frequently bullied–usually more by the abuser’s horrified naive friends than by the abuser directly.
4. For the above reason, subsequent or other victims are often afraid to speak out, because they know they will be targeted too.
5. Rape victims in particular are afraid to speak out because re-living the rape by telling the story repeatedly is humiliating. It’s even more degrading when people blame them or worse…call them liars.
6. If you haven’t experienced it, you cannot judge a victim’s reactions by what you think while you are calm. Even if you have experienced it, you still cannot judge another person’s reactions to rape. Everyone is different. Just because you would hypothetically react differently does not mean another person is a liar.
7. Although abusers nearly always claim they are falsely accused, (because they certainly aren’t going to admit to being abusers,) domestic violence expert Lundy Bancroft states that false accusations are rare in his book Why Does He Do That?–specifically because of some of the above reasons. Victims who are telling the truth have a hard enough time. Not many people want to go through that hell just to tell lies.
8. Predators will often show red flags that don’t stand out to others. Little rude things will seem meaningless, but they are really hints of the much bigger and carefully hidden reality.
9. If someone claims to have been abused, raped or violated, don’t dismiss them just because the alleged predator doesn’t seem the type. They almost never do.
10. You can never truly know someone unless you have spent significant time with them in one-on-one situations. Predators can hide their true colors for decades if you only see them socially and on their best behavior. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you “know” someone because you’ve seen them socially for years.
11. Sociopaths are at least 4% of the population. Narcissists are even more prevalent. Don’t be hesitant to recognize their behavior for what it is. They are not that rare.
12. When accusations are flying…listen. Listen carefully and astutely. Look at words verses actions. Look at histories. Question if you really know the accused or if you have developed a false sense of intimacy after long-term shallow interactions.
13. Don’t be afraid to question what you know and open your mind to to reality that you might have been wrong about someone.
This situation with Cosby has become headline news, but it is not a rare situation. There are a lot of people out there who have the same predatory history as Cosby–who have left the same trail of broken victims who are desperate to be heard. I am one of them, and you never know if you will be one day too.