I believe you Barbara Bowman

Beloved actor.

Comedian extraordinaire.

Small screen kinda hearted father.

Bill Cosby has been all these things and more to millions of Americans. Barbara Bowman sees him as one thing:  a rapist.

Bowman recently and very publicly said that “The Cosby Show” father, 77, raped her several times during her teenage years. She claimed that the veteran TV star had emotionally and sexually abused her, reported the Daily Mail.

“I was drugged and raped by that man,” she tells MailOnline. “He is a monster. He came at me like a monster. My hope is that others who have experienced sexual abuse will not be intimidated into silence by the famous, rich and powerful. If I can help one victim, then I’ve done my job.”

Recently, Bowman heard comedian Hannibal Buress refer to Cosby as a “serial rapist.” And she said that this action compelled her to tell her story of abuse.

During an interview with MailOnline, Bowman “described in chilling detail how Cosby manipulated her into believing he was a father figure and took advantage of her youth, vulnerability and yes, even ambition, to have his way with her over and over again.”

The actress, now 47, grew up in Denver, Colorado, with her mother raising her. She began studying acting and modeling at Denver’s top agency at the time, J.F. Images at age 13.

What began as a dream come true with a private audition for Cosby in 1985 turned into painful agony just two years later, said Bowman. Terrifying memories of being pinned down to the comic’s hotel bed caused her to kept silent for three decades.

But now, she said she has the strength to speak out.

“I’m finally revealing all of my full story in hopes that others will learn to read the tell-tale signs of abuse and not wait as long as I did,” said Bowman. “No one believed me for years. They said Bill would never do that. That it was preposterous. But I’m putting my name out there and standing behind these words, just like Burress. No more code of silence.”

Bowman continued, “I’ve been silent too long. It’s time to raise a fuss. I’m a real person that this happened to. And it’s taken decades to get over what he did to me.”

The woman said that she is grateful to Burress for what he said about Cosby.

“I thank Hannibal Burress for speaking out over and over again, despite the threats from the Industry that it could ruin his career. He is standing up for me and the other women who are too afraid to speak out. And the timing couldn’t be better. It sickens me to think he’ll be on TV again, playing a father, no less.”

I was a child of the 80s. I watched The Cosby Show for years. I grew up with Cliff Huxtable.  He’s a great guy. He would never rape anyone. I’m sure that feeling is shared by scores of Americans. The idea that a highly regarded actor like Bill Cosby could sexually abuse someone is so hard to believe.  People like Bill Cosby, who play characters like Cliff Huxtable cannot possibly be rapists, right?

Wrong.

See, when it comes to rape and sexual assault, the fact is that we don’t really know who is and who isn’t capable of it. No matter how a person may act on television, they are still acting. The character they portray is not who they are, no matter how amiable they may seem.  We don’t know Bill Cosby. He may be a comedian who has made us laugh, but we don’t know Bill Cosby. He may have played a character that gave millions of people a view into the lives of African-Americans, but we don’t know Bill Cosby.  He may have given us the educational children’s show Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, but we don’t know Bill Cosby.

We think we do, and we think that matters in deciding whether or not we believe Barbara Bowman. It doesn’t, because even those people we know…those people we love…those people we trust…those people can betray us. Those people can hurt us. Those people can sexually abuse us.  Teachers, priests, police officers, parents…they can and do sexually assault us. Knowing someone. Not knowing someone. It doesn’t matter when deciding to believe victims of sexual assault.

So don’t base your decision to support Barbara Bowman on your knowledge of Bill Cosby. Base your decision to support her on the frequency with which rape occurs in our culture. Base your decision on the fact that sex without consent occurs every single day and is committed by people from all walks of life. Base your decision on the scary fact that anyone could be a rapist, because there is no specific type of person who rapes. Base your decision on the fact that women are routinely dismissed or called liars when they report sexual assault, which sends the signal to other women to not speak up. Remaining silent in the face of sexual assault compounds the pain victims feel. They need people to believe them. They need people to support them.

That’s why I believe Barbara Bowman, and so should you.

* * * *

Note: The court of public opinion is not a court of law. Stating that I support and believe Barbara Bowman means that when she says “Bill Cosby raped me”, I believe her.  I do not have any power over Bill Cosby. I am not a lawyer prosecuting him. I am not a judge presiding over his trial. I am not on a jury capable of sentencing him. As a private citizen, I am not bound by the legal rules that state “innocent til proven guilty”. That is a courtroom standard intended to ensure a fair trial for the accused.

Also, for those who cry “tell the police”, the statute of limitations has expired, so there’s no way she can take him to court, so this isn’t a matter for the police. This is a case of a victim coming forward and telling her story, with the intent of warning others.

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I believe you Barbara Bowman
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4 thoughts on “I believe you Barbara Bowman

  1. 1

    I don’t know why this is so much more depressing than some of the other revelations of late, but it is. Cosby was an icon of my childhood, as a dramatic actor (I Spy) and a comedian. I know, nobody’s perfect, but this goes beyond imperfect and way into evil. Better that we know the truth, though.

    I feel worse for the women and girls he abused, and I hope they get some kind of peace from having all of this made public. I stand with them, in support and solidarity.

  2. 2

    Yep. The Role is not the Man. Or the Woman.

    The tendency to accept Authority, paired with the tendency of Power to corrupt, are what facilitate—not excuse; never excuse—the abuses, and the cover-up of the abuses.

  3. 3

    Great article, I couldn’t agree more. I was shocked when I heard that the man who played the Dad on Seventh Heaven was a child molester, I would never have expected that. I should have known better, I was sexually abused by family members, and no one would have expected that going according to their outwards personas. Church goers, every one. You just can’t tell.
    I wonder how many women Cosby abused????? Abuse is widespread:

    1 in 3 American women will be sexually abused during their lifetime. (George Mason University, Worldwide Sexual Assault Statistics, 2005)
    1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18. (Finkelhor et al., 1990)
    In 2002 247,730 people were raped/sexually assaulted in the US, according to a National Crime Victimization Survey (www.ncvc.org)
    In 2002, 54% of rapes and sexual assaults were reported to the police (www.ncvc.org)
    Every 2 minutes someone somewhere in America is sexually violated (www.rainn.org)

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