My first experience with a rapist came in my first year of admission at the university. I was a naive seventeen year old girl who had just moved in to live at the hostel and excited at being emancipated for the first time, from the watchful eyes of my parents.
Late one evening, on Valentine’s eve and just back from a tiring stretch of lectures, a guy walked into my room and asked to see my roommate, Janet Mensah. The guy introduced himself as her boyfriend. She had just stepped out of the room so I told him she wasn’t in. He asked when she’ll be back and I told him that I had no idea. He said it was great she wasn’t around because he actually had a parcel he wanted to surprise her with.
I didn’t know Janet that well. She was a pretty dark-skinned curvy beauty in her sophomore year and I was the new girl everyone gave a curious look; wanting to assess if I fitted into their ‘cool group’ or not. So when her ‘boyfriend’ Ency asked if I could step down to where he parked his car to collect the parcel for her, I obliged.
We got to where the car was parked. He got in and pretended to search for the parcel while I waited outside. He came out acting all upset and confused. He said he must have forgotten the parcel at home. “How silly of me!” he said, slapping his forehead. “Look, I’m really tired. I need to go back to my room and rest,” I told him. “Maybe, you can give her the parcel, tomorrow?” I suggested politely.
He begged and begged that he needed to give Janet the parcel before Valentine the next day and that if I went with him to get the parcel, I’d be back to the hostel to rest before I knew it. Maybe it was my naivety or maybe it was the fact that I was too fatigued to figure out that this guy could have as well gone home alone to bring the parcel, return to the hostel to surprise his girlfriend without me having to necessarily come along.
We got to his house, and he asked me to sit down and “feel comfortable.” I began to wonder why because we were supposed to pop in quickly, get the parcel and pop out. He said he was only “being nice” to his girlfriend’s roommate. I also noticed that he wasn’t making any move to fetch the parcel. Things got nasty when I turned to leave. He brought out a pocket knife and held it menacingly to my throat. He told me he was a cult guy and wouldn’t think twice before slitting my throat if I dared to make a sound.
In a flash second the folly of my decision that night played out before me. Firstly, I didn’t know where I was. His house seemed to be at the end of nowhere and it was quite dark and quiet. Secondly, I had hopped into a car with a total stranger. I took him for his word without checking out if he was really who he claimed he was.
As I lay on his dingy bed, being sexually assaulted with a knife to my throat, I remember thinking that I deserved to die for being so stupid. What angered me most was that I couldn’t do anything to change it. I wasn’t even given the luxury of screaming for help. I was left with shedding silent tears and begging for my life.
When it was all over, I couldn’t get up from the bed. I was totally blanked out and frozen from fear. He lifted me up, took me to the bathroom, cleaned me and dressed me up, all the time wiping my tears and cooing to me to stop crying. Somewhere I found the courage to ask him, why he did it, why it had to be me, and what kind of pleasure he derived from holding a knife to the throat of a helpless girl.
It turns out (no surprise) Ency wasn’t Janet’s boyfriend, he was a stalker she loathed and there was no parcel. I couldn’t tell Janet what happened but I told a friend, an older girl I had known since I was a kid. She told me she knew Ency very well. They were course mates and he was a wimp who never had the balls to ask a girl out; and would never have had the balls to use that pocket knife either.
My second experience with a rapist came the following year. I was at the home of a man I looked up to as a father and mentor. I had just been discharged from the university hospital after an attack of malaria and typhoid fever. I was weak and he suggested I leave the hostel briefly to recuperate in his home. This man moved to undress me and even tore my clothes when I resisted. This time, I was wiser. I wasn’t afraid. I was filled with rage. From no where strength came into me and I dealt this middle-aged man an upper cut he’ll always live to remember.
From that jab, his lower teeth sank sharply under his tongue slicing through. The next thing I saw was blood shooting out of his mouth and heard him screaming like a banshee. He ran to the bathroom to stop the bleeding and in a flash second, I picked my books, handbag and shoes. I ran out of the house as fast as I could without looking back. In the struggle, he had cut my bra strap and I had lost the expensive craft stone bead necklace I wore which was scattered in many pieces on his bedroom floor.
Who cares? It didn’t matter if I had left behind a gold or diamond necklace in his house after my escape. What mattered was I couldn’t afford to be raped every year by different male psychos.
That was why I didn’t know exactly how to interpret Camille Cosby‘s loyalty to her husband, Bill Cosby after some proof emerged that over a period of five decades, he had indeed drugged women with Quaaludes to have sex with them without their consent.
Sources told the New York Post that the 71-year-old long-suffering wife of the legendary comedian is standing by her man and doesn’t believe the whole story is being told.
At a crisis meeting attended by advisers, lawyers and PR specialists at the couple’s home in Shelburne, Mass., on the night of July 7, Camille who expressed that she “stopped being embarrassed long ago” about her husband’s extra-marital affairs was quoted as saying:
“They are making him out to be such a bad guy, a monster.”
“I created him, I knew what I was getting and we’ll fix this.”
“You have to allow for space to let your partner do what he wants. I have done that and [Bill] has done that and there’s no jealously, no friction.”
A close confidante of the Cosbys revealed to The Post:
“Camille still doesn’t believe that Bill provided drugs and had sex with women without their consent.”
“She’s well aware of his cheating, but she doesn’t believe that her husband is a rapist.”
I respect the fact that Camille is a strong black woman who has over decades, made many sacrifices we may never get to know for Bill to have a career. I also respect the fact that there is an unwritten female code for wives to stand solidly by their husbands no matter what. Our Christian faith even encourages it through the for-better-for-worse marriage vows. But should all these be done at the expense of justice?
As humans with a conscience, when exactly do we draw the line between loyalty and truth?
Don’t get it twisted, I was one of Bill Cosby’s strongest advocates here in Nigeria, when news of his rape activities began to filter in as rumours. I remember engaging in a heated quarrel with my cousin who even hinted that the stories might be true. “Oh not Daddy Huxtable!” I thought to myself, “never!!” How I loved Cosby! I grew up on The Cosby Show. I idolised this man. Even as an adult mom today, I still watch Cosby reruns, Ghost Dad and Fat Albert with my children. So you can imagine how hard it is for me to ‘jump ship.’
It maybe hard for me and a hundred times harder for Camille who is his wife. But I do realise how easily society blames the rape victim for the act instead of the rapist himself. That’s why many young women feel some sort of shame about it and tend to psychologically take the blame for what happened to them. I know how it feels to be a victim…during and after. No woman should be made to feel that way.
Camille and others sympathetic to the Cosby legacy are looking at the possibility of his public image being tarnished, his business and franchises ruined and his “America’s Daddy” image destroyed forever if he comes out clean. But I am looking at the psyche of a man who constantly drugged, raped and abused several dozens of women (are you counting?!) just for fun.
What exactly has been going on in that man’s head all these years and why did he see the need to subject women to such deplorable and degrading situations just to satisfy some psycho-sexual urge? This to me is not mentally healthy behaviour and many women suffered because of this.
So in this case, what should be the right stance for Camille to take? Loyalty to her husband, or justice for the victims?