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Our Lives are not Alleged

empty chairA friend and I were sharing how powerful this cover is and how it's a time when both rape survivors and incest survivors feel bonded. The stories told and the way women were responded to (or not responded to) resonates with survivors of adult sexual assault and survivors of childhood sexual abuse. 


To the women on the cover of New York Magazine and those represented by the empty chair:


I’m sorry you have to have read the word “alleged” so often about experiences you know happened to you.


I’m sorry that your real-life experiences are not considered proof.


I’m sorry that so many worried about Cosby’s legacy, rights and image rather than your body, safety, security, integrity and right not to be preyed upon.

I’m sorry that the image and fictional character of a TV star is more important than your real and actual life.

I’m sorry that it took a Hanniball Burress comedy skit to get the public’s attention of your horror rather than your words.


I’m sorry that it was Cosby’s own words admitting he gave prescription Quaaludes to women he intended to have sex with (released from court documents) that made people believe you.


I’m sorry that when it comes to Bill Cosby you were cast only as an accuser and not a full human being with a life, body, family, profession and feelings.

I’m sorry your reality was considered a version of a story that was deemed one only Billl Cosby could narrate.

I’m sorry no one believed you when it was just you speaking about your own individual experience.


I’m sorry that you were violated, assaulted, manipulated, drugged, preyed on, taken advantage of and that people questioned you and not what was done to you.


Let me say again and more slowly these things:


I’m sorry you were violated.


I’m sorry you were assaulted.


I’m sorry you were drugged.


I’m sorry you were manipulated.

I’m sorry you were preyed upon.

I’m sorry you were taken advantage of.


I’m sorry you were questioned.


I’m sorry that the benefit of the doubt went to Bill Cosby when you came forward as though your version of reality is “alleged” even outside of a courtroom.


I’m sorry that people do not realize that when they say “innocent until proven guilty” even out of a courtroom they are saying you are lying and that your first-person account is irrelevant.


I’m sorry your truth does not matter simply because it is your truth.


I’m sorry that it took so long for people to hear what you said.


I’m sorry that in 2015 you had to hear Cosby show co-star Phylicia Rashad say “Forget these women” and claim that you orchestrated allegations in an attempt to dismantle Cosby’s legacy.


I’m sorry so many people did forget you.


I’m sorry that people still hushed, groaned and  later debated whether Tina Fey and Amy Poehler had the right to joke about the accusations about Cosby because apparently your version of reality isn’t to be spoken of if has not been legally verified.


I’m sorry that Amy Schumer’s The Court of Public Opinion bit isn’t required TV watching for all.


I’m sorry the sports fans so vocal about the injustice to Tom Brady’s punishment aren’t nearly as enraged about the injustices you have suffered.


I’m sorry you haven’t received an apology from every person who questioned your credibility, judged your character or denied the reality of your experience or posted a dumb-ass Tweet.


I’m sorry people did not say “allegedly” when slandering, doubting, attacking and dismissing you.


I’m sorry that you felt alone though there are so many of you.


I’m sorry there are so many of you.


I’m sorry there are so many of us who know some part of your story. We are sitting in our chairs, in our homes, staring back at your image on the cover of New York Magazine. We are weeping in solidarity. We are crushed by exhaustion.


Our stories are not fables or fiction.


Our words and are lives must not be treated as though voluntary reading we can choose to pick up and take in if we are in the mood, like the characters, tone and setting.

Our lives are not alleged. 

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