When a dozen women alleged that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted them in 2005, they were met with “skepticism, threats and attacks on their character,” the New York magazine reported last year. A decade later, there are nearly 60 accusers and it is now Bill Cosby who has fallen from grace.
So, what’s the difference between now and 2005?
This shift in cultural attitudes towards alleged victims may explain why police departments around the United States have seen an increase of rape reports – especially those cases that happened a long time ago. According to The Washington Post, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Houston and New York City have all seen the increase in delayed and immediate rape reports in the last year. Bill Bratton, a police commissioner in New York City, referred to the increase in rape reports as “the Cosby Effect.”
While Cosby is certainly a contributing factor to this shifting cultural attitude, he isn’t the sole reason for it. The United States is currently in fierce conversation about campus sexual assault, rape culture and sexual harassment.
Carol Tracy, the executive director of Philadelphia advocacy group, Women’s Law Project, explained that the “growing pressure to take victims seriously … has altered the way law enforcement handles rape investigations.” She continued, highlighting that the “cultural shift … stemmed from years of grass-roots work in communities by rape crisis centers and a raft of cases that caught the public’s eye and triggered police criticism.”
In short? Your fury is sparking critical cultural change. Stay angry.