New York Magazine published a striking cover photo of 35 women and one empty chair entitled, "I'm No Longer Afraid." These women each tell their stories of how Bill Cosby drugged them, sexually assaulted them, acted inappropriately, took advantage of them, etc. There had been women who had made these claims over the years and have spoke out, but because of Cosby's place and power in the media, these women were not believed. The empty chair in the picture represents the remaining victims that have decided not to step forward.
“People often these days say, ‘Well, why didn’t you take it to the police?’ Andrea Constand went to the police in 2005 — how’d it work out for her? Not at all. In 2005, Bill Cosby still had control of the media. In 2015, we have social media. We can’t be disappeared. It’s online and can never go away.” —Tamara Green, one of the victims who has stepped forward.
In addition to social media playing a role in changing the way we view victims of sexual assault, we also view sexual assault differently.
“I didn’t realize that I had been raped. Back then, rape was done in an alleyway with somebody holding a knife to your throat that you didn’t know. There was no date rape back then. I just knew that something horrible had happened. But I couldn’t put a name to it. The difference between this and that rape in the dark alley is that his face would be before me every week on TV. People would mention a joke that he said: ‘Wasn’t that funny?’ And all the while, my stomach would just be churning.” —Joan Tarshis, another Cosby victim.
Cosby's lawyers criticize the media for their coverage of Cosby's admissions. "Reading the media accounts, one would conclude that defendant has admitted to rape," attorneys Patrick O'Connor and George Gowen write in a filing to keep the rest of the court records sealed. "And yet defendant admitted to nothing more than being one of the many people who introduced quaaludes into their consensual sex life in the 1970s." Cosby's team has asked for sanctions against Andrea Constand for violating the confidentiality agreement she signed after her 2006 settlement.
Despite a lack of justice for these women, there seems to be more support than ever for victims of sexual assault. In addition, just last week California Supreme Court ruled that a civil claim for money damages relating to alleged sexual abuse of a 15-year-old girl in 1974 to proceed through the court system.
Because Cosby has not been proven guilty in a court of law, his actions remain to be considered 'allegations.' Many of the women say the experience has forged a bond between them — in the words of Joan Tarshis, they now form a "sorrowful sisterhood."