Sexual assault in movies and TV can often be portrayed in a problematically, depicting the assault and aftermath in a way that's unrealistic and even promotes victim-blaming. On-screen sexual assault is often used as a mechanism to drive a plot forward, but in the process, hurts the cause off-screen and delays progress in the real world. However, there is television that does a good job in depicting sexual assault, encouraging conversation and putting victims in the right light.
Here are the best 5 TV shows that portray sexual assault correctly:
1. Orange Is The New Black
Pennsatucky is raped by one of the prison guards, who she had previously grown to trust. The show demonstrates Pennsatucky's feelings of sadness and confusion that someone she considered a friend could do that to her. She struggles to understand how this assault could have happened to her, and how someone that she considered to be a friend could have done this to her. This reflects the aftermath of sexual assault for a lot of victims in the real world.
2. Law and Order: SVU
"Law and Order: SVU" brought all different types of sexual assault and domestic violence to the forefront of television. Throughout the seasons, they discuss issues from consent to child abuse, and for the most part, the show sought to empower the victims and show viewers the reality of the situation of sexual assault in our world, even in cases that were not necessarily cut and dry.
This late 90s/early 2000s show was not dated in the way it represents sexual assault in some episodes. It deals with the issue of consent in a situation that began as consensual and switched to assault. It also shows how victims doubt themselves and their experiences, blame themselves for what happened, and hesitate to report these crimes.
The Season 1 finale of "Outlander" shows the graphic sexual assault of Jamie Fraser. The audience not only witnesses the act in detail from the perspective of the victim, but we also see the aftermath and journey Jamie takes after the rape, which is thought to be respectful and truthful to the reality of a lot of sexual assault victims.
5. Switched At Birth
In Season 4, the show shows sexual assault when Bay blacks out after a party and realizes that Tank took advantage of her sexually. She ultimately reports it to her school and the authority. The show does a good job in showing that consent requires a clear and sober "yes" through the story arc and the voices of the characters, specifically Bay's mother. But it also shows a victim's self doubt, especially when alcohol is involved. The show's cast and crew even engaged in an online conversation about sexual assault, beyond the lives of the on-screen characters.