Helen M Farrell M.D.

Frontpage Forensics

Bill Cosby: Patriarch to Predator

Survivors of sexual assault can transform shame into power

Posted Jul 08, 2015

Shame and public attitudes that “she deserved it” prevent many women from reporting rape.  The dozens of women who accused Bill Cosby, nonetheless, found their voice.  They are survivors and will undoubtedly serve as inspirations to other women who have experienced sexual assault.

Bill Cosby has reportedly admitted to drugging women with whom he wanted to have sex.  He apparently used Methaqualone, known in the United States as Quaaludes.  These sedative-hypnotic drugs are depressants.  They increase the activity of the GABA receptors in the brain and nervous system. When GABA activity is increased, blood pressure drops and the breathing and pulse rates slow, leading to a state of deep relaxation.  In short, they make people extremely drowsy. 

When Cosby was acting in front of the camera, he was warm, funny and kind.  This leaves much of the public confused and disappointed in their favorite TV icon.  It’s easy to blur the lines between fictional individuals, like Cliff Huxtable, and the actors portraying them.  This makes sense.  Most of us use television and film to escape.  The Cosby Show was a top-rated program in large part due to its predictable laughs and the fatherly warmth exuding from the show’s patriarch.

With the latest news and reported confession by Cosby, we are forced to acknowledge TV for what it really is … made-up stories.

Sadly, wanton misconduct is not unique to the rich and famous.  Sexual assault is a pervasive problem.

It is important that we realize when we blame the victims of sexual predators, we punish them for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This further enables their attackers.  And turning a blind eye simply makes one an accomplice.

This case highlights the need to treat victims of sexual assault with dignity and fairness.  We have the opportunity to create supportive communities that eliminate shame and promote empowerment.  

Learn how to create communities of hope:


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