With regards to it being shown early, there is another important factor behind this – to reach a far and wide audience in a bid to raise as much awareness as possible – particularly for younger women who could find themselves in the same situation as Victoria, who innocently invited a man in for a cup of tea which resulted in ramifications that will affect her for the rest of her life.
Her feeling that no one would believe her was also powerful and important – it’s the first thought of most rape survivors I should imagine, particularly when the attacker is either someone they know or, like in Victoria’s case, she feels people will believe she ‘led him on’.
‘I know he raped me, but I also know how it looks,’ she said. She’d destroyed evidence from that night in a bid to erase him from her life, but that could prove crucial following her decision to go to the police.
Let’s just be clear – there is no such thing as being led on. At all. Full stop. Even if the word ‘no’ hasn’t been explicitly said. If a woman hasn’t made it abundantly, unequivocally crystal clear she wants to have sex, wouldn’t the best thing to be to assume she doesn’t?
In Victoria’s case she made it quite clear she wanted him to leave. Allowing him in for a cup of tea was a tiny moment of letting her guard down but equally was not her ‘leading him on’ or ‘asking to be raped’ – she was being kind. Kind-hearted women are often preyed on, they can be afraid to be rude when put on the spot, or even don’t see the harm in being nice.
Consent is of course once again the huge issue here – and Victoria made her feelings very clear. She wanted him to leave her house and go home. The moment she let him in she had no intention of sleeping with him. She made no indication she wanted to and was very adamant she wanted him to go home.
The fact he even said ‘stop pretending like you don’t want this too’ is so key. GUYS – if a girl EVER seems like she’s ‘pretending not to want it’ then she most likely does not want it. It’s not pretend, or playing hard to get, that in itself is a no.
These episodes are so important in raising awareness of the issue of consent. Hopefully it will also help women realise the small ways to protect themselves. We shouldn’t have to consider everyone around us to be sexual predators, but doing small things to be aware will go a long way to help. There were heartbreaking moments throughout the flashback episode where things could have turned out very differently – if she hadn’t got into the taxi with him, if she’d accepted Robert’s lift home, if she had stuck to her guns at the doorstep. No one can blame her for a second over what happened. She did absolutely nothing wrong. They are all decisions any one of us would have made.
But it was his behaviour that women can be aware of – he manipulated her, took advantage of her being a kind person, led her into thinking certain decisions – like going for another drink – were her ideas. He played the nice guy to trap her and it’s those signs that are so key to be on watch for.
Congrats to Isabel for this huge performance, no doubt we’ll really see her acting chops over the next few weeks, I truly hope that complainers of these episodes are ignored and the scenes are taken for how they’re intended, drawing awareness to a very real and very frightening issue that should always be at the forefront of conversation. No means no, no matter what.
Have you been affected by this storyline? Rape Crisis can help…
You can find information, support and advice by visiting Rape Crisis. 0808 802 999 is the confidential helpline number.
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