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3 reasons why Bill Cosby’s assault charge is a big win for brave women.

Bill Cosby faces felony charges of aggravated indecent assault.

3 reasons why Bill Cosby’s assault charge is a big win for brave women.

Finally, Bill Cosby is facing felony charges of aggravated indecent assault for an encounter with a woman in 2004.

If you didn't see this one coming, you're not alone.


Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press.

Charges were filed against Cosby in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, after new information surfaced in July that was relevant to the nearly 12-year-old case, according to The Washington Post.

Prosecutor Kevin Steele mapped out a timeline of events on Wednesday, claiming that the comedian befriended alleged victim Andrea Constand before making unwanted sexual advances, and then, in January 2004, using pills that "paralyzed" her before the assault. Constand's account, although disturbing, is unfortunately not that unique.

Since the 1960s, dozens of women have claimed Cosby sexually assaulted them, many saying the comedian used drugs to do so.

Women who've accused Cosby of sexual assault and sexual harassment — Colleen Hughes (L), Linda Ridgeway Whitedeer (C), and Eden Tirl (R) — at a news conference. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

But like so many other accusations against powerful, wealthy, influential, and (at least in this case) universally beloved people, these women faced steep uphill battles in seeking justice — even when the arguments defending Cosby were flat-out ridiculous (thank you, Amy Schumer, for pointing this out to us).

On Wednesday, however, the first battle for justice was won.

This first victory is a truly remarkable win for the brave women who decided to speak up. Why? Because by speaking up, they had to overcome these three barriers (and many others):

1. No one wanted to believe Dr. Cliff Huxtable could be capable of sexually assaulting numerous women.

But we have to remember: Mr. Cosby and Mr. Huxtable are not the same person.

Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.

The world fell in love with the Huxtables — "America's first black family" — on "The Cosby Show," with a beloved Bill steering the ship in the lead role.

"'The Cosby Show' debuted during the Reagan era, when the plagues of crack, AIDS, and spiraling homicide were ravaging African Americans," Jelani Cobb of the University of Connecticut told Ebony magazine. "['The Cosby Show' was] huge among black people because it was a counterpoint to the stream of negativity that we heard and saw about ourselves so frequently during those years."

And it wasn't just black people — America fell in love with Cosby and his Huxtable crew, making the show the country's most-watched TV program for five of the eight seasons it aired on NBC.

Off-camera, Cosby's advocacy in promoting education and children's literature further cemented admiration for the trailblazing entertainer who was making the world a better place.

But humans aren't one-dimensional characters. We have strengths and flaws. And even someone like Cosby — who used an A-list career and platform to do so much good — can also be capable of doing so much immeasurable harm.

The comedian the world fell in love with is not Mr. Huxtable. Challenging the world to realize that is a difficult feat these women had to take head on.

2. In many cases, time works against victims of sexual assault, unfairly so.

The allegations against Cosby are no different.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Statutes of limitations — laws that prevent someone from being charged with a crime if a certain number of years has passed since the crime occurred — often hinders a survivor's chance at justice.

Across the country, 34 states have statutes of limitations when it comes to filing rape or sexual assault charges. Seeing as "rape is a crime of shame and humiliation" that keeps many victims from coming forward for years or even decades, as Yeshiva University's Marci Hamilton explained, statutes of limitations frequently favor the violators.

And even if survivors do come forward right away, slow, bureaucratic processes within law enforcement can prevent justice from being served once the statutes expire, as rape survivor Mel Townsend learned the hard way back in 2008.

In Constand's case, Cosby was just days away from being safe from any charges, as the alleged crime was committed in January 2004, and Pennsylvania has a 12-year statute of limitations when it comes to sexual assault instances like hers.

3. Celebrities oftentimes have a leg up in our supposedly blind justice system.

America loves its celebrities — so much so, we can't stand the thought of putting them in jail.

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

There's no shortage of examples to look to. Celebrities have abused their partners, gotten DUIs, stabbed other people, and walked off scot-free (or damn-near close).

"There are two criminal justice systems in the United States," Matt Clarke wrote for Prison Legal News. "One is for people with wealth, fame or influence who can afford to hire top-notch attorneys and public relations firms, who make campaign contributions to sheriffs, legislators, and other elected officials, and who enjoy certain privileges due to their celebrity status or the size of their bank accounts. The other justice system is for everybody else."

A celeb like Cosby doesn't just have the best legal team money can buy, he also has the unique opportunity to belittle his accusers on a stage, in front of an audience of adoring fans who still think he's as clever as ever.

Today doesn't just mark a step forward for Andrea Constand. It's a big win, and sign of hope, for brave women everywhere who've decided to speak up.

Coming out as a survivor of rape and sexual assault can be an incredibly difficult thing to do. Doing it when the violator is an A-list celebrity with millions of trusting fans? That's a whole other ball game.

These women — and the countless others who've defended themselves in the face of injustice — deserve our respect and support.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

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Dr. David McPhee offers advice for talking to someone living in a different time in their head.

Few things are more difficult than watching a loved one's grip on reality slipping away. Dementia can be brutal for families and caregivers, and knowing how to handle the various stages can be tricky to figure out.

The Alzheimer's Association offers tips for communicating in the early, middle and late stages of the disease, as dementia manifests differently as the disease progresses. The Family Caregiver Alliance also offers advice for talking to someone with various forms and phases of dementia. Some communication tips deal with confusion, agitation and other challenging behaviors that can come along with losing one's memory, and those tips are incredibly important. But what about when the person is seemingly living in a different time, immersed in their memories of the past, unaware of what has happened since then?

Psychologist David McPhee shared some advice with a person on Quora who asked, "How do I answer my dad with dementia when he talks about his mom and dad being alive? Do I go along with it or tell him they have passed away?"

McPhee wrote:

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