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Bill Cosby and Victim-Blaming

A crowd of people in a  busy city street, holding many colourful protest signs. An orange sign sticks up out of all the others and reads: "STOP Victim-Blaming".The New York post recently published an article where they detailed how Bill Cosby has hired a team of private investigators to find out personal information about his accusers.

The method of attempting to discredit survivors through their personal history is not a new one. Historically, this kind of information has been used against female survivors in particular.

In the article, Cosby was reported to have said: “If you’re going to say to the world that I did this to you, then the world needs to know, ‘What kind of person are you? Who is this person that’s saying it?” as well as, “you mean you never reported it to the police? You never tell anyone?”

These statements are a form of victim-blaming, where survivors are blamed for not reporting to the police. As well, attempts to discredit a survivor’s character are part of victim-blaming, as the intention is to paint a negative picture of the survivor in order to dismiss their experiences.

Many survivors do not disclose their experiences to people close to them, nor do they report to the police. They will often feel ashamed and remain silent out of the fear that they will not be believed. The attempts by Bill Cosby to silence these survivors is deplorable. It speaks to the larger societal impact of the victim-blaming assumption that women lie about sexual violence.