photo: New York Magazine (Amanda Demme)

Last night, New York magazine released its latest issue featuring a staggering image of 35 women, all of whom have come forward to say that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted them. Out of the 46 women who allege that they were sexually assaulted by Cosby, the cover story includes the personal accounts of 35 of them who range in age from 44 to 88. Cosby has yet to discuss the allegations out right, but in newly unsealed court documents, Cosby does admit to drugging a woman for sex. 

Each woman profiled in the story describes her encounter with Cosby, and the majority of them said they were drugged and unaware of the assault until they woke up hours later. They also disclosed the difficulties of reporting their story to authorities. 

One of the accusers, Tamara Green says:

"People often these days say, ‘Well, why didn’t you take it to the police?’ Andrea Constand went to the police in 2005 — how’d it work out for her? Not at all. In 2005, Bill Cosby still had control of the media. In 2015, we have social media. We can’t be disappeared. It’s online and can never go away."

The cover also poignantly features an empty chair for the women who have yet to speak out about their assault perhaps out of fear and/or guilt. According to the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN) about 68 percent of sexual assaults go unreported. The image of the empty chair suggests that they, too, can speak out when they are ready.

Several women in the story said they were able to come forward because so many other women were speaking up, and that is true bravery. Whether you are scared or ashamed about your sexual assault, it’s never too late to come forward. It’s important to know that you are not alone, and that your story can help others.

According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network: "Justice can mean different things to different people, and reporting a crime to law enforcement is an individual decision. Many who have decided to report to law enforcement have described it as the first step in seeking justice for the crime by holding the perpetrator accountable for their actions. It may not be an easy decision to make, but it’s a choice that may have a positive impact on your recovery. Reporting can also have a positive impact on the lives of others. Perpetrators of sexual assault tend to be serial criminals. When you report sexual assault or abuse, you are increasing the chances that this person will face consequences for the crime, limiting the chance this person could hurt someone else." 

If you’d like to reach out for help, here are a few places you could start: 

RAINN

1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or at online.rainn.org 

To speak to a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area or chat to someone online, available 24 hours a day.

New York City Anti-Violence Project

(212) 714-1141

This service is bilingual and available 24 hours a day.