This post is a reaction to tonight’s episode of “Law & Order: SVU” based on a college campus (further down on our blog page is the original post about the episode which we posted BEFORE the show aired). Now, is the time to react to the actual episode where several concerns arose.
Please be aware I will be referring to some stereotypes which played out on the show concerning sexual assaults and thus I want to give full disclosure before anyone chooses to read on.
Consider all of the following in tonight’s episode:
1) The show had a person who is obliged to keep a student’s comments confidential BREAK the confidentiality and tell the police information [in the show tonight, the police detective is informed his daughter was the "Buddy" in the "Buddy System"]. This scene is MANY survivor’s nightmare and could deter other survivors from speaking with people on campus who are “Safe” to share with (must keep information confidential).
2) A campus professional referred to the “Buddy System” as a way to protect you (seem to imply females) when you make dumb or stupid mistakes (paraphrasing). A simple statement like “The Buddy System is to help students look out for each other when they see potentially dangerous situations” would have been much more effective and less potentially aimed at referring to women’s mistakes in these cases. The fact is wording such as “dumb or stupid mistakes” is often used against survivors as victim blaming.
3) The District Attorney was the ONLY person who used the term “Grey Rape” and did it in a way that would concern many sexual assault advocates. The DA implied: “He Said. She Said. results in Grey Rape and not having a case” (paraphrase). Once again, students and/or survivors watching the show could become very concerned no one would take their case seriously if they came forward.
4) The campus in this episode hides all sexual assaults as other crimes to avoid the Clery Act. If what was occurring in the show was taking place, federal crime was being violated. The campus wasn’t “avoiding” the Clery Act. They were violating it.
5) The other detectives in the Police Station made almost the EXACT comments I said in my previous video (blog post below) for showing examples of how people blame survivors. No, I had not seen the show beforehand. That coincidence proves how often the same “victim blaming” is used throughout society. In this case, it could have made survivors think that is how police will look at their case and thus hurt the chances of survivors coming forward.
6) No one ever referenced a local sexual assault crisis center and talking with an advocate (another option in addition to talking with the school and/or the authorities). Sexual assault advocates can make a tremendous, positive impact for survivors. Many campuses will encourage the survivor to speak with an advocate from a local crisis center. Unfortunately, not all campuses do this and so the show may be fair in projecting that situation.
7) Then the show switched to a completely different discussion (homicide through abortion) and NEVER came back to resolve all the issues it arose in the first 15 minutes – such as all the issues around campus reporting, campus judiciary systems, sexual assaults on campus involving alcohol, confidentiality, etc… A wound was open and never closed back up.
Yes, I understand this is a TV show. Why all the attention? Because this cast (2 of the co-stars) spoke out in advance of this show as if this episode was going to be progressive in helping survivors. While I absolutely appreciate the media working to make a positive difference, I wish the Producers and Writers would have had someone on set to help them truly create an equally effective drama which would have provided great opportunity for increasing viewer’s awareness.
This show brought up so many different issues with regards to the opening sexual assault case that they easily could have made the entire episode about the first sexual assault case discussed on the broadcast.
What did you think? SHARE YOUR COMMENTS BELOW. I look forward to personally responding to everyone’s comments as the day progresses. I am speaking in Richmond, VA, and so will do my best to respond when possible.