Why Janice Dickinson laughed at Bill Cosby when he was sentenced (guest column)

I will never forget the rape or “put it into perspective.” I have had nightmares regularly since. I still startle at home over the most trivial of surprises. At Bill Cosby’s sentencing, I had no feelings whatsoever, neither fear, anxiety nor hope. I just crossed my fingers that justice would be served. I was mentally fatigued. Many of the victims told me they felt the same.

I saw Cosby laughing at trial while I testified, and then again at his sentencing. At the recess just before the announcement of the long-awaited sentence, I saw him look at me. I let out an explosive emotional laugh. While other victims wept, I laughed and said, “Who’s laughing now?” After the final sentence and after the defense tried several other moves, it was over, and I was relieved that Judge Steven O’Neil had fairly considered the evidence and made the right decision to put him away in state prison, where he cannot ruin any other woman’s life. The justice system had done its job. That’s a relief, and I felt better, but it does not undo the damage. Just then, Cosby’s team called me a liar (again), and the creepy feelings of being a victim started back, like the tide coming in.

Why do we not report immediately? Men have no idea of the toll an assault takes. I, we, get afraid, feel so emotional that it can be hard to think, even though the attack is etched in our brain. Take a look at the Senate hearings. Years ago and surprisingly, even now, victims are intimidated. Intimidated because we know we will be shamed and called a liar or a slut, that we will get hate mail and threats, that telling a new boyfriend will probably end that relationship, that our children and family will look at us differently, and maybe they won’t love us, and that we will be labeled.

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Janice Dickinson's early modeling years
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Janice Dickinson's early modeling years
Portrait de Janice Dickinson, actrice, circa 1970, en France . (Photo by Giancarlo BOTTI/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
American model Janice Dickinson, circa 1975. (Photo by Michael Brennan/Getty Images)
Headshot of American model Janice Dickerson as she holds a make-up compact in one hand, Amagansett, New York, October 1978. The photo was during an ad campaign shoot for Wamsutta sheets, featuring Calvin Klein designs. (Photo by Susan Wood/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 1: Model Janice Dickinson wearing floral print maillot by Lilly Pulitzer CREDIT MUST READ: Arthur Elgort/Conde Nast via Getty Images. (Photo by Arthur Elgort/Conde Nast via Getty Images)
Portrait of American model Janice Dickinson as she holds up her hair, Amagansett, New York, October 1978. The photo was taken as part of an ad campaign shoot for Wamsutta sheets, featuring Calvin Klein designs. It was taken in a house in the Hamptons designed by Gwathmey and Siegel Architects. (Photo by Susan Wood/Getty Images)
Model Janice Dickinson topless in a swimming pool, holding onto the ladder, looking up with her eyes closed, c.1979. (Photo by Horst P. Horst/Conde Nast via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Janice Dickinson;
Model Janice Dickinson wearing a bright blue gown and her hair brushed to one side, c.1979. (Photo by Horst P. Horst/Conde Nast via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Janice Dickinson;
LOS ANGELES - 1986: Model Janice Dickinson poses for a portrait session in 1986 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry Langdon/Getty Images)
Model Janice Dickinson wearing beige wrap dirndl together with sleeveless ribbed cotton sweater and cotton shirt by Calvin Klein. (Photo by�Kourken Pakchanian/Cond�Nast via Getty Images)
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Others will use our reporting to define us wherever we go and whatever we do. And, we just might be sued if we can’t prove the truth. We have already been devastated, and we know all these consequences. We will be hurt more if we talk. As we have seen, others will go out of their way to cause us pain again. The pain of the assault is real. This causes a permanent distortion in how we view life, whether it’s love, friends, work, children or any expectations, because we can no longer trust anything as we once did.

What to do? How to come out and not suffer more? I found that although you can never be proud of being assaulted, you can be proud of coming out. Then perhaps you lose the shame. I found that I was somewhat better after coming out. Family and friends believed me and were understanding and supportive. I didn’t realize I had been avoiding so many things in life. But, if a victim thinks she will be worse off for coming out, then she need not feel ashamed about that. We are supportive of all of our sisters.

“I found that although you can never be proud of being assaulted, you can be proud of coming out. Then perhaps you lose the shame.”

There seem to be a lot of men, whether high or low on the social scale, who have assaulted women in their past. They seem to think either that nothing really wrong was done or that as time passes they get a free pass or can forget about it (or all three). Some say that since it was long ago, and that the man has then led a “good” life (maybe), that he should get a pass. Some say “it’s not fair” to bring up a sexual assault from years ago that could damage the man now that he has been caught at last. Yes, the truth hurts. Isn’t it hypocritical that those who are religious can do this? They of all people should know that on Judgment Day, you don’t get a pass just because you “hid” your sins.

Pure and simple, you never get a pass. If you did, then you should plan on never having a high-visibility career, whether in entertainment, politics or otherwise. We women now will be coming out and will find you, statute of limitations or not. And why is there a statute of limitations really? These laws were written by men, and these laws send the message that if time passes, then the woman is not telling the truth, so the man can get a pass. At the same time, they send a message that the woman’s story, whether recent or delayed, is questionable. A “pass” signals to our daughters and sons that this country really doesn’t care about women and that only men can ultimately be trusted to tell the truth.

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Inside the Bill Cosby retrial
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Inside the Bill Cosby retrial
NORRISTOWN, PA - APRIL 11: Actor/ stand-up comedian Bill Cosby leaving the Montgomery County Courthouse for the third day of his retrial for sexual assault charges on April 11, 2018 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. A former Temple University employee alleges that the entertainer drugged and molested her in 2004 at his home in suburban Philadelphia. More than 40 women have accused the 80 year old entertainer of sexual assault. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images)
NORRISTOWN, PA - APRIL 12: Bill Cosby accuser model Janice Dickinson, 63, walks through the Montgomery County Courthouse after lunch to testify on the fourth day of the sexual assault retrial on April 12, 2018 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. A former Temple University employee alleges that the entertainer drugged and molested her in 2004 at his home in suburban Philadelphia. More than 40 women have accused the 80 year old entertainer of sexual assault. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
NORRISTOWN, PA - APRIL 12: Bill Cosby arrives at the Montgomery County Courthouse for the fourth day of his sexual assault retrial on April 12, 2018 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. A former Temple University employee alleges that the entertainer drugged and molested her in 2004 at his home in suburban Philadelphia. More than 40 women have accused the 80 year old entertainer of sexual assault. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
NORRISTOWN, PA - APRIL 11: Actor/ stand-up comedian Bill Cosby arriving to Montgomery County Courthouse for the third day of his retrial for sexual assault charges on April 11, 2018 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. A former Temple University employee alleges that the entertainer drugged and molested her in 2004 at his home in suburban Philadelphia. More than 40 women have accused the 80 year old entertainer of sexual assault. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images)
NORRISTOWN, PA - APRIL 11: Chelan Lasha weeps as she returns to the courtroom after recess during the third day in the sexual assault case against actor and comedian Bill Cosby at the Montgomery County Courthouse April 11, 2018 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. The comedian is accused by a former Temple University employee of allegedly drugging and molesting her in 2004 at his home in suburban Philadelphia. (Photo by Dominick Reuter-Pool/Getty Images)
NORRISTOWN, PA - APRIL 12: Bill Cosby accuser model Janice Dickinson, 63, walks through the Montgomery County Courthouse after lunch to testify on the fourth day of the sexual assault retrial on April 12, 2018 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. A former Temple University employee alleges that the entertainer drugged and molested her in 2004 at his home in suburban Philadelphia. More than 40 women have accused the 80 year old entertainer of sexual assault. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
Actor and comedian, Bill Cosby, returns to the courtroom after lunch recess during the third day of the retrial of his sexual assault case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 11, 2018. Dominick Reuter/Pool via Reuters
Attorney Gloria Allred arrives for the third day of actor and comedian, Bill Cosby's sexual assault retrial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 11, 2018. Dominick Reuter/Pool via Reuters
Actor and comedian Bill Cosby departs after the first day of his sexual assault retrial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jessica Kourkounis
Actor and comedian Bill Cosby departs after the first day of his sexual assault retrial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jessica Kourkounis
Files for the prosecution?s case against actor and comedian Bill Cosby are wheeled into the courtroom for the second day of Cosby's sexual assault retrial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 10, 2018. David Maialetti/Pool via Reuters?
Boxes of documents are wheeled into the courtroom on the third day of the retrial of actor and comedian Bill Cosby's sexual assault case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 11, 2018. Dominick Reuter/Pool via Reuters
NORRISTOWN, PA - APRIL 11: Civil rights attorney Lisa Bloom is seen around the Montgomery County Courthouse during the third day of Bill Cosby's sexual assault charges on April 11, 2018 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. A former Temple University employee alleges that the entertainer drugged and molested her in 2004 at his home in suburban Philadelphia. More than 40 women have accused the 80-year-old entertainer of sexual assault. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images)
NORRISTOWN, PA - APRIL 11: Bill Cosby's personal attorney Tom L. Larkin and actor/ stand-up comedian Bill Cosby leaving the Montgomery County Courthouse for the third day of his retrial for sexual assault charges on April 11, 2018 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. A former Temple University employee alleges that the entertainer drugged and molested her in 2004 at his home in suburban Philadelphia. More than 40 women have accused the 80 year old entertainer of sexual assault. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images)
NORRISTOWN, PA - APRIL 11: Actor/ stand-up comedian Bill Cosby leaving the Montgomery County Courthouse for the third day of his retrial for sexual assault charges on April 11, 2018 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. A former Temple University employee alleges that the entertainer drugged and molested her in 2004 at his home in suburban Philadelphia. More than 40 women have accused the 80 year old entertainer of sexual assault. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images)
NORRISTOWN, PA - APRIL 11: Actor/ stand-up comedian Bill Cosby leaving the Montgomery County Courthouse for the third day of his retrial for sexual assault charges on April 11, 2018 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. A former Temple University employee alleges that the entertainer drugged and molested her in 2004 at his home in suburban Philadelphia. More than 40 women have accused the 80 year old entertainer of sexual assault. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images)
NORRISTOWN, PA - APRIL 11: Actor/ stand-up comedian Bill Cosby arriving to Montgomery County Courthouse for the third day of his retrial for sexual assault charges on April 11, 2018 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. A former Temple University employee alleges that the entertainer drugged and molested her in 2004 at his home in suburban Philadelphia. More than 40 women have accused the 80 year old entertainer of sexual assault. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images)
District Attorney Kevin Steele, with Andrea Constand and prosecutors on his side gives emotional remarks after the guilty verdict of Bill Cosby on all three counts in he sexual assault trial of the comedian an actor, during a press conference, at the Montgomery County District Attorneys office in Norristown, PA, USA, on April 26, 2018. (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Gloria Allred, victims and supporters react after the guilty verdict of Bill Cosby, outside the court house, in Norristown, PA, on April 26, 2018. (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
NORRISTOWN, PA - APRIL 26: Bill Cosby accusers Victoria Valentino (R), Caroline Heldman (L) and Lili Bernard (2L) react after the guilty on all counts verdict was delivered in the sexual assault retrial at the Montgomery County Courthouse on April 26, 2018 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Cosby was found guilty on all accounts after a former Temple University employee alleges that the entertainer drugged and molested her in 2004 at his home in suburban Philadelphia. More than 40 women have accused the 80 year old entertainer of sexual assault. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
NORRISTOWN, PA - APRIL 26: A woman reacts outside the courtroom upon hearing that Bill Cosby was found guilty on all counts in his sexual assault retrial on April 26, 2018 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Cosby was found guilty on all accounts after a former Temple University employee alleges that the entertainer drugged and molested her in 2004 at his home in suburban Philadelphia. More than 40 women have accused the 80 year old entertainer of sexual assault. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
Andrea Constand and prosecutors on here side reacts the guilty verdict of Bill Cosby on all three counts in he sexual assault trial of the comedian an actor, during a press conference, at the Montgomery County District Attorneys office in Norristown, PA, USA, on April 26, 2018. (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
NORRISTOWN, PA - APRIL 26: Bill Cosby accusers (L-R) Caroline Heldman and Lili Bernard react after the guilty on all counts verdict was delivered in the sexual assault retrial at the Montgomery County Courthouse on April 26, 2018 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Cosby was found guilty on all accounts after a former Temple University employee alleges that the entertainer drugged and molested her in 2004 at his home in suburban Philadelphia. More than 40 women have accused the 80 year old entertainer of sexual assault. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
NORRISTOWN, PA - APRIL 26: Bill Cosby accusers (L-R) Caroline Heldman, Lili Bernard and Victoria Valentino (far right) react after the guilty on all counts verdict was delivered in the sexual assault retrial at the Montgomery County Courthouse on April 26, 2018 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Cosby was found guilty on all accounts after a former Temple University employee alleges that the entertainer drugged and molested her in 2004 at his home in suburban Philadelphia. More than 40 women have accused the 80 year old entertainer of sexual assault. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
Bill Cosby departs on bail after being found guilty on all three accounts of sexual assault, at Montgomery County Court House, in Norristown, PA, USA, on April 26, 2018. After the first trial last year resulted in a hung jury actor and entertainer Bill Cosby is found guilty on three counts of sexual assault. (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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We focus on the man who assaults, however, as we see in the Senate hearings, where many other men chime in on his side. They are counting on you being intimidated by victim shaming. These men are cowards and are complicit in the assaulter’s crimes. This is really a crime too, victimizing not only the woman but also her family and friends. Those complicit do not get a pass either. The women in their lives need to stand up and honestly confront them.

I especially ask that all mothers and sisters have a “talk” with their sons about boundaries with females, telling them it is no excuse to be rich, drunk or high. Men seem not to know when they must stop, and many are too chicken to ask for consent. So they assault. Don’t do it, don’t say it and don’t even think it. They need to be told how to ask a woman.

Janice Dickinson is a model, author, photographer and reality TV star. She is among five women who testified at Cosby’s trial that she, too, had been drugged and sexually assaulted by the actor.

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