Who Do You Believe?
This week we're looking at how by denying rape and abuse happens, we can hurt girls like Jessica.
It's a heavy one, so take a deep breath before you dive in.
First up though, let's go back in time to figure out what Zach and Ryan could do to Rewind The Tape and help Hannah:
Why did Hannah tell Zach, who she barely knew? Sometimes we share intense things with randos because we want to protect our loved ones from knowing how badly we're really doing.
That includes our parents - soooo often we think they'll get mad about what we've been doing, or that they won't understand.
But they love us more than anyone, and most of the time they DO want to help us out. Hannah could have reached out to her parents, She could have also talked to a good counsellor, who'd keep what she said private. Counsellors are amazing because you can unload all your worries on them. They've heard it allll before, and they can help you get through it.
What could Zach have done with the letter? We get it Zach, sometimes you’re just out of your element. Hannah's letter was clearly a cry for help - if someone seems like they REALLY need help, call in a support system who'll know what to do. Ask your parents, counsellors, teachers, your big sister - anyone who looks like they'll know what to do.
How do we recognize when our friends really care about us from those who want to exploit us (hi Ryan)? Sometimes you get little warnings in your gut when you feel you can't reeeeally trust someone. When that happens, listen to yourself! You suck, Ryan.
Justin - What's Mine Is Yours
Deep breaths - this one is pretttty heavy.
In this episode we see the really the really gross outcome of all the sexual harassment and intimidation that’s ground Hannah down. It's been clear all season that the guys at school feel like girls are just bodies to rate and grope.
They share photos of girls without permission and make up lies about doing things with them to impress each other. The guys rate the bodies of girls that they sit next to every day and no one does anything but laugh and pass it on.
When you look at it like that, it’s not that surprising that Bryce sees it as no big deal deal to rape Jessica.
The guys just see girls as "pieces of ass" to use as they like.
Bryce even tells Justin, Jessica’s boyfriend, he's going in to rape an unconscious Jessica! Justin seems conflicted about it but lets Bryce into the room because "what's yours is mine, right?". Then he slowly realises it's all a bit fucked and changes his mind, but is thrown out the room and goes to sulk on the couch while Bryce continues to rapes Jessica. And Hannah’s frozen in the cupboard watching it all.
Hannah says that we might think Jessica's kinda responsible for her rape for drinking too much. But EVERYONE was drunk - it was a party. And how can you be responsible for something that happened when you were unconscious? PREACH Hannah.
If you think that Jessica was somehow "responsible" for getting raped by shithead Bryce, then you also have to think that boys are allowed - EXPECTED even- to take advantage of and rape girls who are too drunk to resist them. Oh HELL no.
Guys can go to school, play sports, and work without raping -we're pretttttty sure they can also socialise without raping, just like WE can.
Guys - we expect better. No guy should EVER do anything to us that we don't want or DON'T EVEN KNOW IS HAPPENING.
This kind of violation is a BIG deal and leaves victims completely traumatized. Clay’s totally right that lying about it is totally wrong and that Bryce so CLEARLY did it. But 13 Reasons also gets it totally right how so many people want to ignore or deny this kind of thing happens in the first place, and by people we know.
We've been hearing a lot about how Justin is a ~great guy~.We’d like to pour a whoooole of ICE cold water on that. Justin pretends he’s denying what happened to “protect Jessica”. Which clearly is going great since she’s spiraling out of control and getting wasted at school.
Refusing to talk about something, or pretending it didn’t happen, is something a lot of people around a victim want to do. Unfortunately it just makes them feel like they are going crazy, and that they're all alone, which NEVER helps anything.
Justin "protecting Jessica” (who he's also been ignoring on and off) just HAPPENS to avoid him being called out as a P.O.S. who let his bestie rape his girlfriend.
And it also means keep staying at Bryce's mansion. Oh poooor little Justin, sulking on the couch. What a victim.
Jessica wants to believe it didn’t happen because - of course not! But she has to deal with flashbacks, which are suuuper common when you’ve been abused. And because everyone else is telling her it never happened (again, REALLY common), it makes her question her entire reality. Jess has to trust her boyfriend who’s acting like a total jerk, or admit that things are really screwed up and she can’t trust ANY of her friends. OF COURSE SHE WANTS IT TO BE LIES.
And then we get to Hannah. Poor Hannah's traumatized, this time because of her lack of action when her friend needed her. She says “my feet were made of stone and I couldn’t move”.
We've talked before about the freeze response, when your body kicks in and says “NOPE YOU ARE IN DANGER, DON’T MAKE ANY SUDDEN MOVES”. That's what happened for Hannah.
She already knew Bryce and his crew were dangerous, so of course she found herself frozen when everything went down. A lot of people who have been through abuse have experienced this, and unfortunately it is why a lot of people blame themselves unfairly.
Trust us: This is your body’s natural defense swooping in and saying “brain, I’m turning your decision making off so you can survive this very dangerous situation”. You actually have no control over it.
Here we go wanting to climb into the screen again and talk to the Hannahs and Jessicas of the world: You are not crazy. It is not your fault, you are not alone.
"He wouldn’t do that"
Sara got drunk and a little high at a party with her friends and boyfriend. They all passed out in the living room. She woke up with a boy she hadn’t met before that night on top of her groping at her underwear. She screamed and woke everyone up, but the boy said she was making it up and that she must have been confused.
The next day she tried to talk about it with her friends and her boyfriend, but they all said it probably didn’t happen the way she thought, and that she was drunk and maybe having a bad dream.
Her friends and her boyfriend all thought they were helping her forget about it. But they were also denying that something like that would happen with someone they knew.
Sara couldn’t stop thinking about it, especially when everyone was telling her to forget it and move on. It created a rift between her and her boyfriend and they eventually broke up. Her friends also distanced themselves from her because they didn’t know how to deal. Sara felt alone and became depressed, hardly going to school or leaving the house which made things worse and worse.
She couldn’t sleep at night without worrying about waking with someone on top of her. Eventually she sought out counselling and was referred to HELP, where her counselor helped her see that her reaction was totally normal.
Her counsellor supported her with tools that would help her cope, like dealing with flashbacks, how to survive when she felt really emotional, and getting through it when she was feeling really anxious. With her counsellor's support, Sara worked through what had happened and got the confidence she needed to get out into the world again.
We’re here for you
Rape is a scary reality for many girls. Em was created by and for girls just like Hannah and Jessica.
13 Reasons Why shows the painful consequences of rape for girls. Hannah's lonely and depressed. She's been hurt by so many guys by now that she freezes when she sees dickfaces like Bryce. Jessica drinks to cope with her pain. That's a pretty common and totally understandable to having someone hurt you like that.
If you've been sexually abused, we want you to know that you're not alone. We've got a whole bunch of stuff here that you can use any time when life is feeling hard.
You can also call the lovely ladies at HELP at 09 623 1700 at any time, day or night, or you can message us at Em.
Now onwards for what everyone could do to #Rewindthetape to help Hannah and Jessica:
- Why did Bryce think it was OK to “share” Jessica?
- What could/ should Justin have done, while it was happening? Afterward?
- Why does everyone pretend everything is OK to their parents?
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