Supermodel Janice Dickinson has written an op-ed about Bill Cosby’s sentencing, her rape and resulting PTSD, why she takes pride in coming out as a survivor.
The piece, published on Variety’s website Tuesday, begins in the Pennsylvania courthouse where Cosby received a prison sentence for raping former Temple University basketball coach Andrea Constand. Dickinson, who accused the comedian of drugging and raping her in 1982 and testified in the Pennsylvania case earlier this year, describes laughing when she heard the sentence, as confirmed by reports from the courtroom last week:
I saw Cosby laughing at trial while I testified, and then again at his sentencing. At the recess just before the announcement of the long-awaited sentence, I saw him look at me. I let out an explosive emotional laugh. While other victims wept, I laughed and said, “Who’s laughing now?” …I was relieved that Judge Steven O’Neil had fairly considered the evidence and made the right decision to put him away in state prison, where he cannot ruin any other woman’s life. The justice system had done its job. That’s a relief, and I felt better, but it does not undo the damage.
Dickinson moves beyond the Cosby to write about why survivors don’t report their assault immediately, if at all, by drawing on her own experiences. She says that she felt ashamed of what had happened and was afraid that no one would believe her. Her family and friends did believe her, she writes, which helped her process, if not fully overcome, her trauma:
The pain of the assault is real. This causes a permanent distortion in how we view life, whether it’s love, friends, work, children or any expectations, because we can no longer trust anything as we once did… [V]ictims are intimidated. Intimidated because we know we will be shamed and called a liar or a slut, that we will get hate mail and threats, that telling a new boyfriend will probably end that relationship, that our children and family will look at us differently, and maybe they won’t love us, and that we will be labeled… What to do? How to come out and not suffer more? I found that although you can never be proud of being assaulted, you can be proud of coming out. Then perhaps you lose the shame. I found that I was somewhat better after coming out. Family and friends believed me and were understanding and supportive.
Read the rest of Dickinson’s op-ed here.