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Bill Cosby Scandal Exposes Why Black Rape Victims Often Stay Silent

Alissa R. Jones

Alissa R. Jones

The Bill Cosby sex scandal raised some familiar, but troubling, issues in the Black community. Former model Beverly Johnson said she was drugged by Cosby in the ‘80s. However, she fought him off and ran screaming from his house. She stayed silent for years because she didn’t want to damage the reputation of a man seen as a role model in the Black community.

This is not surprising to Alissa R. Jones, a rape survivor and activist. She is also the founder of the Survivors With Voices (SWV) foundation, a support network of rape survivors, and author of “The Stones That Built Me Strong,” a book about turning negative experiences into positive ones. Jones said rape is a common, but unspoken, problem in the Black community. She said according to figures from the Black Women’s Coalition, 60 percent of Black girls experience abuse by the time they are 18.

Jones said people in the Black community are reluctant to come forward with charges of rape because the victimizer is often either a friend or family member. The victim doesn’t want to get that person in trouble, she said.

“In the Black community, we are taught to protect our Black men,” Jones said.

This is what happened to Jones. When she was 11, she was raped by a family friend, who lived in her mother’s basement. She was told to refer to him as “Uncle Roger.” Jones never talked about her assault for years, scared that her abuser would come after her mother.

“I thought I was protecting my mom,” Jones said.

Jones said she never dealt with her abuse, but one of her friends noticed a change in her behavior and forced her to address her issues. Although Jones ignored dealing with the emotional scars of her rape, it affected her. She said the abuse was the main cause of the downfall of her first marriage.

“I didn’t love myself and didn’t expect the love from a man,” she said. “I didn’t know how to be a wife.”

She also had a lot of resentment toward her mother and often stole from her as a way of punishing her.

Jones learned how to heal her emotional wounds in support groups. She tried counseling but didn’t feel a connection with her therapist. Jones didn’t think she could understand what rape survivors go through; however, fellow survivors could.

It was her positive experiences in support groups that led her to create the Survivors With Voices foundation. Although rape is a difficult subject that many people are not comfortable discussing, Jones is committed to talking about it and enabling survivors to have their voices heard.

“I wish to help others unlock their hearts and heal their wounds,” she said. “I can make a difference in sexual abuse survivors’ lives.”

Jones realizes Black boys are sometimes sexually abused by men, and there is even more stigma and shame among the survivors. One of the partners in her foundation is a male rape survivor and he said the abuse caused him to suffer anxiety, depression and fearfulness when he was older. He also questioned his sexuality. Men are also less likely to report sexual abuse, Jones said. “They suffer in silence,” she said.

Men can also be sexually abused by women. There have been a rash of cases of older women (often teachers) being charged with having sex with underage boys. Jones said this is still rape. Not only are teacher-student relationships inappropriate, they are also exploitative. Jones said in many cases, the older women use gifts to win the boys’ affections.

“A lot of times they (the boys) are being bought,” she said.

This is what happened to LaQuisha Hall, a former beauty pageant contestant who is now an entrepreneur, author and youth mentor. She was raped as a teenager by a pastor. Her abuser won her confidence by buying her gifts and making her feel special.

“He drew me by quickly defending me whenever I was in trouble at home, making me feel as if he was on ‘my side,”’ said Hall, who created the SheRose Awards to honor survivors of sexual assault. “He lured me with gifts, which I gladly accepted from him: shoes, clothes, jewelry and food. The actual molestation began shortly after I began accepting the gifts.”

Jones said one of the most important lessons she wants Black parents to learn is to believe their children when they claim they have been raped.

“The No. 1 reason why people don’t share is because they feel they are not going to be believed,” Jones said.

What people are saying

9 thoughts on “Bill Cosby Scandal Exposes Why Black Rape Victims Often Stay Silent

  1. Linda Kath says:

    This is My blended family! Me and my husband met 3 years ago on a amazing platform MixedFishes c o m we got married 2 years of now and had a beautiful mixed baby girl. Though it was hard going through the struggles of how the world perceives interracial relationships we've grown stronger, and I'm glad to call him my best friend. My life became beautiful because of MixedFishes c o m

  2. Linda Kath says:

    This is My blended family! Me and my husband met 3 years ago on a amazing platform MixedFishes c o m we got married 2 years of now and had a beautiful mixed baby girl. Though it was hard going through the struggles of how the world perceives interracial relationships we've grown stronger, and I'm glad to call him my best friend. My life became beautiful because of MixedFishes c o m

  3. Dmax Lomax says:

    See this is the problem of our black community today and she is a perfect example. Though I can agree on some of the points she makes in this article, but when she claimed blacks are taught to protect their black men, is somewhat false in todays black community. That culture went out the door with our grand parents and in todays black community there is more division than there has ever been amoung us. Today we have a lot of children having and raising children, with the mindsset of we as women don't need a man and to get yours by all means nessecary, which is a lot of our women's anthiem today. But back in the Cosby days, I can see where she is coming from. Children rape itself is not only a black problem, but a society problem and need to be fixed fast and I do mean fast.

  4. Hi Dmax.
    Thank you very much for your comments. My comment in reference to the Protection was meant for the Cosby Days which is the days I grew up in. I have to agree on your thoughts regarding today's society and generation.
    What I'm finding is the adults who are speaking now due to years of silence is from that Era.
    It is a society Problem and my mission is to reach
    Surviors Nationwide through my Foundation Survivors with Voices

    Again I humbly thank you

  5. Dmax Lomax says:

    Alissa RaChelle Jones Ahhh, well mke that a bit more clear, lol. Understood my Queen.

  6. Dmax Lomax LOL …Take Care and I wish you the best

  7. Jamia Kakuwa says:

    I think black men (and some black women) conflate the issues of white supremacy and patriarchy. They are SO close on a disgusting scale that our brothas wanting to retain that small bit of power/privilege they have, which clouds their judgment. White people know how to make their community look like SAINTS in comparison to brown and black people when it comes to crimes. The only way we can contribute to that destruction is to seperate ourselves from them in a lot of ways and learn to stop inviting them into our spaces. Short of that, racism is for them to destroy and if they choose not too, we still need to push forward.

    As for us, we need to rid the rape culture, rape apologists and as many rapists as possible out of our circle. I am not willing to defend a black man against RAPE when that has nothing to do with his skin for me. I don't see him as a monster because he is black. I see him as a monster because he is a rapist and him not being away from those who can harm makes him an enemy. Keep in mind, I will defend him against white media dragging him as opposed to their own. Racism is racism regardless of how I feel toward the brotha. Where I stand, I don't allow them to judge black people either because they can't ignore the black man's race no matter how hard they try. I hold them accountable for worrying about their own community members committing crimes. That said, I can and I do refuse to accept any of this B.S about the black woman wanting to see brothas fail etc.

    We are the MOTHERS of you little black boys. Held you in our wombs and helped you acheive LIFE. A life you could NEVER have without us carrying you until it was time for you to be here. We cannot hate black men collectively because we could NEVER hate our babies. We want to help you understand that sexual abuse is NEVER ok and that protection of your sista can never happen if she is subjected to sexual trauma. Let's make the change!

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