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Netflix’s Unbelievable Shows Why Girls Don’t Report Rape

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Netflix released a crime drama series Unbelievable this week and it has taken the internet by storm. It’s a story based on a true story revolving around an 18-year-old Marie Adler. Marie (Kaitlyn Dever) is a foster teenager who reports a rape but ends up taking back her crime report. As a result, she’s charged for false reporting. The creators of the show perfectly depict why girls choose to not report sexual assault and rape committed on them.

The Inhumane Way Police Treats Marie Adler

The series showcases two cases simultaneously. We see one where Marie (Kaitlyn Denver) has to constantly reiterate the traumatic event that happened. She’s given no time to recover physically or emotionally and is pressurized to report what happened multiple times. Initially, the detective states he only wants to help Marie but soon their frustrations lead to them making Marie say that the rape didn’t happen. The tears that stream down Kaitlyn Denver’s face as the audience sees flashbacks of the horrific event make the audience emotional. Just as they feel for the victim of the rape, they feel hopeless anger at the detectives that are trying really hard to not be sensitive. Even the nurses do invasive procedures on her body without even making sure that she’s comfortable. Everyone just wants to get the job and treat Marie as someone who is supposed to comply at every step. They are not understanding the pain and trauma associated with rape.

Marie Adler’s Case Shows Why So Many Girls Choose To Not Report Their Sexual Assult

Marie feels so hopeless that she ends up taking back her statement. Detective Parker doesn’t realize that the pain she’s in may lead to her forgetting some parts of her story. The inconsistencies of the story she’s forced to tell multiple times are because of her pain. But the male detective assumes it’s because the story is fake. This is basically what we’ve seen with every girl who opens up about her sexual assault story. The first instinctual reaction is always to doubt the victim.

There’s institutional sexism that’s occurring at a major and minor level. That’s why it comes as no surprise that out of all the college women who had been raped at a national level, only 5% ended up reporting the crime. That’s an alarmingly low number.

Girls are often discouraged to report this horrendous crime because of sexist attitudes. Looking at Marie’s case in Netflix’s Unbelievable, we saw that not only the police was doubting her but so were her foster moms. Everyone assumed the rape crime was something Marie did gain attention. It was not something that the police took objectively as it should be. At times, the victims are even blamed and shamed for the crime itself. Some blame a girl’s promiscuous clothing, and some her merely being more social.

Unbelievable Explains Why Girls Still Don’t Report Their Rapes

A study of The National Child Traumatic Stress Network outlines multiple reasons why teens don’t report these crimes. One of those ones were true to what happened to Marie:

Other traumatic reactions: Feeling shocked, dazed, confused, and/or not remembering some details of the event can be traumatic responses to the sexual assault. However, teens may fear that no one will believe them if they do not remember all the details, or they may not want to think or talk about the painful event.

Unbelievable Also Showcases How Police Should Deal With Rape Cases

We see two female detectives Karen Duvall (Meritt Wever) and Grace Rasmussen (Toni Collette) join forces to catch a serial rapist. They way they deal with these crimes is a standard model all police forces should follow. The two detectives are firm bosses but at the same time, they’re sensitive and approach the cases with sensitivity.

Meritt Wever’s character treats her case with more professionalism and understanding. We see her calmly approach the rape victim, Amber (Danielle MacDonald). She politely asks if she can take Amber to a private space. Throughout the whole questioning process, Detective Karen Duvall ensures Amber feels comfortable. Whenever Amber apologizes for anything, Karen assures her that she doesn’t have to apologize for anything.

They see their victims as people and they try to empathize with their pain as opposed to question it or ignore it entirely. Detectives Duvall and Rasmussen show that just because you’re treating a victim with humanity, doesn’t mean it would interfere with the job. In fact, both go far and beyond to capture the serial rapist. We can clearly see that them allowing their emotions in actually helps them catch the rapist faster.

If the police approach rape and sexual assault crimes like Detective Duvall and Rasmussen did, girls would perhaps report their crimes more. And Marie Adler would get her justice on time and not three years later.

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