Chasing Cosby

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In January, the LA Times premiered a new podcast which followed the career, and dark personal history, of comedian and convicted sex criminal, Bill Cosby.  The six-episode podcast, Chasing Cosby, is available wherever you get your podcasts.

The podcast is an important reminder that we can’t assume someone is safe just because they are famous, powerful, or well-liked in our communities. The podcast sends the message loud and clear that we must Start By Believing and trust survivors when they come forward.  Only by believing survivors, supporting survivors, and holding perpetrators accountable, can we truly end sexual violence in our world.

The podcast is powerful, moving, and haunting and please please please be cautious in listening if you are a survivor or may be triggered by stories of abuse. This is not an easy podcast to hear. But it is important for many of us.

We’ll be sharing more of our thoughts on different episodes and themes through the podcast, but first and foremost, the lesson we can learn from this podcast is how incredibly strong survivors are. Anyone working in this field or industry will tell you, the ones who are making a difference and the ones who are changing the world are survivors. We are in the background, offering support and guidance, but the real power behind the movement to end violence is and always has been survivors.

The women who reported Bill Cosby’s abuse not only had the courage to share their stories, to press charges, or to testify in court, but many of them ALSO advocated for changes in the laws of their home states.  State after state changed or discarded restricted statute of limitation laws for reporting sexual abuse and they did so because of the advocacy of survivors of Bill Cosby.  These women not only sought justice for themselves, but they sought to make the world a more just place for future survivors.

They had no responsibility to anything but their own healing, but they still took this stand. Because of them, Colorado DOUBLED the length of time a survivor has to report assault and abuse. Nevada and California removed any statute of limitations on reporting these crimes.  Women and all survivors are safer, our world is safer, because of their courage.

Remember each day as we work together to end sexual violence to listen to survivors.  Ask survivors in your life what they need and how you can support them.  Look to survivors in the news, buy and read books by survivors, watch Ted Talks from survivors (may we recommend any and everything by Tarana Burke?), and learn from them. We don’t do this work FOR survivors of violence, we do this work WITH them.

Thank you, to each and every person, who has survived sexual violence and is fighting for yourself and for the world.  We are honored to fight with you.

Update

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As with many social-service agencies and businesses, we find ourselves operating under a new normal due to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

While we are all practicing social distancing, finding new ways to spend our time, and doing our best to keep ourselves, our families, and our communities safe, the need for services and support for survivors of domestic and sexual violence continues. Everything feels different right now and we don’t know when things will go back to normal. So in the meantime, we want you to know that we are here.

If you are feeling alone or unsafe, you can call us 24/7 at 815-756-5228.

We can’t meet together, which is an incredible disappointment, especially as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April) approaches, but we can still all stand together against sexual violence and stand together for survivors. We’ll be posting more on this blog with reviews of books, shows, and podcasts.  We’ll be sharing lots of information, quizzes, and live videos on our social media channels (Facebook: @safepassagedvsa; Instagram: @safe_passage_dekalb; Twitter: @Safe_PassageDV).  We’ll have contests, story time, and so much more. Keep up to date with us and please interact with us!  We’d love to see your comments, discussion, and recommendations!

We want survivors everywhere to feel blanketed in love and support during this crisis.  This is a difficult time for everyone and the best thing we can all do is help one another.  Be a voice of support for survivors.  Reach out for help, if you need it.  If you don’t, reach out to those who do! We may be apart but we are not alone!

Will You Accept This Rant? March 2

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Hello and welcome to all our ranters, readers, and people who just weren’t getting enough yelling from the Democratic debates!

Welcome to the Women Tell All recap! This episode is a chance for the women of the season to share their side of the story, explain themselves, and question the lead.  It can be illuminating and interesting as heck!  Last night, however, it was mostly just exhausting. But if you love people screaming over one another and a breakdown in basic civility, read on!

Women Tell All Abc GIF by The Bachelor
All right, let’s dive in.

Like always,

We’re working to examine and call out our culture of relationships that we see under a microscope in the petri dish that is Bachelor Nation.  Check out our weekly Facebook Live video (clink this link!) to hear all our thoughts and let us know what you’re thinking about this week! Don’t forget, you can always follow along with us on Twitter too! (@Safe_PassageDV)

Unlike most WTA episodes, we started with the rose ceremony that wrapped up Fantasy Suite week.  Peter gave the first rose to Hannah Ann and then the second to Madi. Two things from this…Peter CLEARLY is so into Madi and so worried about if she’ll stick around to be his final choice.  It was so uncomfortable for Hannah Ann (and all of us watching from the comfort of our sofas) to see how obviously in love with Madi he is.  It almost felt heartless or at least clueless for him to so obviously be ignoring Hannah Ann’s presence during these moments with Madi.

Second thing…Victoria F went home!  A lot of people were celebrating last night and with good reason. We genuinely hope that she has learned from this experience, can look back on her actions and attitudes, and grow into healthier relationships in the future.  She’s got some HEAVY baggage to unpack, but if there is one thing we know, it is that people can change. No one is born abusive.  No one is inherently bad.  We are all taught healthier or less healthy ways of navigating the world. I hope this experience taught Victoria to take some responsibility and work on herself before she jumps into her next jOuRNeY to fInd LOve.

Awkward Season 24 GIF by The Bachelor
I’m sure we’ll see you in Paradise, Victoria.

As we moved into the actual Women Tell All portion of the evening, there were two HUGE themes that landed for us: accountability and growth (or the lack thereof) and bullying. We’re going to talk about both so STRAP IN!

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We’ll miss these airplane puns next season.

No one came out of this season smelling like a rose.  Even Madison, a long-time favorite, is being dragged in the press by Chris Harrison for her “not-an-ultimatum”.  There were moments for all the girls that I’m sure they wish they could take back.  The difference we saw last night was that some of the girls seemed to be ready to apologize and move forward and some seemed ready to double-down.

Women Tell All Eye Roll GIF by The Bachelor
Same, Tammy.  Same.

Victoria P kicked off the gas-lighting, trying to reframe her experience with Alayah as a “weird” personality quirk, rather than an attempt to throw her competition under the bus. Tammy continued the trend, trying to rewrite Bachelor history.  She wasn’t rude or hurtful.  She was concerned.  She wasn’t spreading rumors; she was looking out for her housemates!  She didn’t call Kelsey an alcoholic; she said she had “alcoholic tendencies”.

This is a really problematic trend you often see in abusive behaviors.  Abusers will often rewrite history, even to the point of believing it themselves, to prop up their belief that they aren’t the bad one. They aren’t the bad guy.  Maybe even they are the VICTIM! When mentally abusive relationships go on long enough, you can almost start to feel like you are going crazy.  You don’t even know if you can trust yourself because you are getting SUCH mixed messages from a person you care about as they do everything they can to avoid accountability.

On the other end of the spectrum, you had people like Alayah, Kelsey, and even Victoria F, admitting that they screwed up. Alayah apologized to the other girls for “word vomiting” and speaking without thinking. Kelsey apologized for being WAY too over the top about ChampagneGate.

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One last time.

Even Peter acknowledged that he is getting a lot of criticism for how he handled his season and that he is taking that criticism as an opportunity to grow.  That is really what life is all about.  None of us are perfect.  We all make mistakes.  We all were raised in environments and systems that set us up for failure in relationships.  We can’t expect perfection, but what we can expect from ourselves and our partners is accountability and growth.  Our responsibility is to know that no one, no matter how much they love us, is required to put up with abuse AND our responsibility is to listen when people call us out and take that as an opportunity to change and grow.

We saw a lot of growth from a lot of women (and a little from Peter) this season.  That is a step in the right direction.  That is an airplane at the right gate.  That is a flight that is on-time out of O’Hare.  Whatever the metaphor, you get it.

Embarrassed Chris Harrison GIF by The Bachelor

That brings us to the last thing we HAVE to address. Bachelor Nation is a mess, y’all.  There is so much racism, misogyny, and hatred in this community. We can’t let this be normalized.  Kudos to Chris and TPTB for opening up the conversation and thank you SO MUCH to Rachel for her courage in leading such a difficult and necessary conversation.

ALL (I think I can feel confident saying all.  Idk, maybe not Josh…he’s too scary) or nearly ALL members of Bachelor/Bachelorette/BIP/etc. casts get messages of hate.  They are called horrible names.  People attack their character.  People attack their children.  People send hateful messages to their family and friends, people who never signed up for this! It has to stop.  No matter what someone did on this show, they do not deserve to be bullied or harassed.  Just because it happens online does not make it any less scary.  Many Bachelor contestants have been harassed out of a job or have had concerns about their safety.  I don’t care how annoying Tammy was this season, she shouldn’t be harassed.  I don’t care if Victoria F slept with 100 married men, she shouldn’t be harassed.  I don’t care if Alayah is literally a snake who transfigured herself into the shape of a woman to sow chaos in the Bachelor Mansion, she shouldn’t be harassed.

And we HAVE to admit that happens on a way deeper level and a much more violent scale for people of color in Bachelor Nation.  It is racism, plain and simple. Just like our work, Bachelor Nation doesn’t exist in a bubble outside the racism that is built into the American system.  We don’t do our clients any favors by ignoring the fact that it is SO MUCH HARDER for survivors of color to access justice. We have to admit and examine the ways that race has intersected with violence and oppression throughout the entire history of the world.  This is not just about one type of violence.  This is not just about online bullying and harassment.  This is about admitting that the system is broken and that we all MUST do better.

Like the women on Peter’s season, we can bury our heads in the sand and double-down on pretending like everything is fine.  Or we can admit that we’ve all made mistakes and we can put in the work to grow, change, and be better.

If we do that, we’ll make a safer, healthier, and better world for all of us.