Illustration for article titled Bill Cosbys Long-Overdue Downfall May Be Empowering More Rape Victims to Report Their Assaults

By now, over 50 women have come forward to accuse Bill Cosby of sexual assault, and according to The Washington Post, the public vindication of these women’s stories may have contributed to a shift in progress: more victims are coming forward to police departments, who are in turn listening to more women, and altering the way they handle these cases.


Danielle Paquette cites some recent statistics from some of America’s biggest cities: the District of Columbia has shown an 11 percent increase in reported sexual assaults over the last year, with delayed reports (of attacks that happened before the year in which they were reported) jumping from 20 total to 28. There’s been a 9 percent increase in Philadelphia and a 19 percent increase in Houston, with delayed reports climbing in both of those cities, too. The pattern continues in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Carol Tracy of the Women’s Law Project told the Post that cops, in response, are taking more cases seriously and changing the way they investigate these kinds of crimes. For example, in Austin, cops no longer make victims sign forms promising they wouldn’t perjure themselves because “that could make an already traumatized person feel under investigation.” In addition, other precincts are training their officers to be patient with victims who might not recall all of the details of their assaults and refrain from defaulting into interrogation tactics.


In Los Angeles, Police Chief Charlie Beck had kind words for locals who might not have been ready to come forward in the past.

“You come to us, especially with a sexual allegation, we will work with you,” Beck said in 2014. “We address these things seriously, and it’s not just because it’s Mr. Cosby.”

Image via Getty.

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As a woman who didn’t speak of being raped to my friends let alone the police prior to the Cosby publicity, I can attest that the public spotlight on the issue made it much easier to broach the subject with friends. In turn this resulted in me finding out that more than one of my friends had experienced similar situations with the SAME perpetrator.

Once I knew I wasn’t the only one I HAD TO tell the police (along with one friend who also made a report). As far as I'm aware the police weren’t able to act on the reports (ie. press charges that would hold any water) due to the 3year time lapse and lack of solid evidence but I still was pleased to have something on the record because it seems only a matter of time before he does it again... and I’d be happy to be a character witness.