Andrea Constand met Bill Cosby in 2002 when she was the director of operations for Temple University's women's basketball team. He took an immediate romantic interest in her, he said in a deposition three years later, and invited her to his house to talk "about personal situations dealing with her life, growth, education."
Instead, Constand says, Cosby violated her trust in an unthinkable way: He drugged and sexually assaulted her at his mansion in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. He was convicted in 2018 on three counts of aggravated indecent assault. In a publicized victim's impact statement, Constand said living with the pain of what happened led to years of night terrors and extreme anxiety. Cosby stole her "beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it," she wrote in the statement, and robbed her of her "health and vitality" and "open nature."
Driven by a a resolve to help other trauma survivors—and to rest assured no one else suffered like she did—Constand formed a nonprofit organization offering support, resources, and education. Called Hope Healing and Transformation, the foundation was announced earlier this month. At its core is a free "holistic healing program" called SAFEAPP, Constand tells ELLE.com, that doubles as a safe space for survivors. Over the course of 21 days, participants learn what being trauma-informed is and how to seek out trauma-informed therapists. A corresponding app (available on the App Store in four months) will offer education, research, affirmations, breathing exercises, and meditation practices.
"I created this based on what I went through on my own journey and healing process," Constand says. "This is something I didn't have then, and wished I did. At the heart of this foundation are things that I felt were not necessarily lacking, but inaccessible."
Constand came up with the idea for Hope Healing and Transformation in late 2018 after Cosby was sentenced to prison for three to 10 years. Last month, a Pennsylvania appeals court upheld his sexual assault conviction, rejecting his argument that the case was wrongly decided. He remains incarcerated at state prison SCI Phoenix.
She thought back on her decade-long journey to recovery—and the experiences of other women she connected with in the process—and discovered a common thread: Survivors want to be believed, and they need immediate support. "Unfortunately, survivors seeking counseling can experience a two to three week wait time, even months sometimes," she says. "I wanted to find a way to get information to many survivors who so desperately need it."
Hope Healing and Transformation offers that "immediate access that survivors crave," she says, "so they’re literally able to access important resources right away. That’s going to make an impact. Survivors want to be believed, and feel a sense of community. If they need counseling or access to resources or education, we can provide suggestions on ways to get access to those things. So really, it’s about taking existing resources and putting them altogether in one package, in one place."
Power To HER 💜— Andrea Constand (@ConstandAndrea) January 23, 2020
Several other sexual assault survivors sit on Hope Healing and Transformation's board, including Delaney Henderson, who was raped by two boys she went to high school with at the age of 16. Her case went to the California Supreme Court of Appeals, where a previous judge's decision to throw it out based on freedom of speech was overturned.
Constand says Henderson was a close ally behind the scenes of the Cosby trial, offering advice, guidance, and support. "It was important to me that Hope Healing and Transformation was built by survivors for survivors," she says. "Pretty much everyone involved is a survivor or a licensed social worker or someone who works with survivors of sexual trauma on a daily basis."
For more information on Hope Healing and Transformation, visit the foundation's website, here.
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