TravelGuides – Why reversal of Bill Cosby’s conviction may dissuade women from reporting sexual assault

TravelGuides – Why reversal of Bill Cosby’s conviction may dissuade women from reporting sexual assault

The reversal of Bill Cosby’s conviction sends a message to survivors of sexual assault: “Justice is never going to be served.” (Photo: Getty Images)

Bill Cosby was launched from jail on Wednesday after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his 2018 conviction for sexual assault — a call that shocked many and left survivors of sexual assault feeling devastated and upset after what appeared to be a step towards justice. The choice may even affect a survivor’s choice to report an occasion of sexual assault.

“Reporting is very personal and many people may feel dissuaded from reporting for a number of reasons. But one of the top reasons we repeatedly hear from survivors is the fear that they won’t be believed,” Heather Drevna, the vp of communications at The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), tells Yahoo Life. “A ruling like this in a high-profile case is really just one more slap in the face.”

The nonprofit anti-sexual assault group launched a statement from its president, Scott Berkowitz, in response to the ruling, which reads, “We are deeply disappointed in today’s ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and by the message this decision sends to the brave survivors who came forward to seek justice for what Bill Cosby did to them. This is not justice.” 

That discouraging message that Berkowitz refers to is what women across the nation are talking up about on social media as many query whether or not reporting sexual assault is price such a devastating outcome and level out why so many don’t.

“[Survivors] may be looking at this case and seeing this outcome where again, he was convicted, but now he’s walking free and just throw their hands up and think, well, why is it even worth it to report?” Drevna explains. “If justice is never going to be served, why put myself through that potential additional trauma of going through reporting and going through a court case and going through the whole legal process?”

While some surprise why individuals do not come ahead with allegations of sexual assault, RAINN offers statistics that present simply how typically reported instances do not lead perpetrators to jail. In truth, out of each 1,000 sexual assaults, 975 offenders will stroll free. And whereas greater than 50 women throughout the nation accused Cosby of sexual assault and misconduct, his story ends the identical means.

“One of the reasons that the Supreme Court’s ruling feels so devastating to survivors is because this was one of the first high profile cases within the #MeToo movement. It was one of the first times people saw a rich and powerful man held to account for a long history of sexual abuse,” Drevna says. “Initially there was a conviction, people felt like justice had been served. And now to see that taken away, it reinforces some of those negative perceptions that the justice system may be stacked against survivors.”

Drevna makes positive to notice that “the decision yesterday had nothing to do with whether or not Mr. Cosby was guilty. This was a technicality and so that’s an important thing to keep in mind, but for survivors that probably doesn’t feel very satisfying.”

A joint statement by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape echoes an identical sentiment and factors out the various obstacles that survivors of sexual assault face when searching for justice.

“The dynamics of this decision remind us that while the criminal legal system is an important avenue for some survivors to seek justice and healing, it cannot be the only one,” the assertion reads. “This decision does not diminish the progress made during the #MeToo movement. We will continue to hold those who commit sexual violence accountable, regardless of their position in the community, their power, their fame, or their wealth.”

The assertion goes on to reiterate that the affect of Cosby’s launch on survivors is “immeasurable” and is leaving many feeling “outraged, retraumatized, and devastated.” But even those that have not been victims of sexual assault are experiencing the frustration — particularly women who really feel most in danger.

Sexual violence is typically seen as a women’s issue, and we know that it touches men as well, but I think that’s part of why it feels so devastating for women,” Drevna says. “It ties back to the fact that this case and the original conviction felt like there was some momentum coming on the heels of the #MeToo moment and leading up to Harvey Weinstein and other cases. And again, feeling like that momentum and that has been snatched out from under people. When you couple that with news that’s been going on right now, there’s been a lot of mention of sexual violence in the news cycle in this moment. There have been a couple of high-profile cases noted in sports and entertainment right now. We saw a huge cultural moment last week where The Bachelorette was talking about issues of consent. And so I think you see women taking all of this into account and it felt like things were changing and maybe [Wednesday] made things feel like maybe they haven’t changed as much as we were hoping they have.”

For those that are struggling, whether or not as a survivor or an ally, Drevna affords the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) and on-line chat at online.rainn.org for nameless, confidential help. 

“The most important thing that loved ones can do is to listen and to listen without judgment. On our website, we have a lot of tips for loved ones of survivors, but particularly we talk about our acronym TALK, which is a way of framing how to think about disclosure and listening to the survivors in your life,” she says. “Let survivors know it’s OK to turn it off — turn off social media, step away from your apps, step away from the TV when news like this is happening. Trying to make choices to support your self-care when things like this are in the media is so, so important.”

If you or somebody you recognize has been sexually assaulted, assist is offered. RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline is right here for survivors 24/7 with free, nameless assist. 800.656.HOPE (4673) and online.rainn.org.

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TravelGuides – Why reversal of Bill Cosby’s conviction may dissuade women from reporting sexual assault