From guest blogger Brieana
Recently we’ve heard an elevated and more persistent conversation around the problem of sexual assault. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network) a sexual assault occurs every 107 seconds. Each year an average of 293,000 cases of sexual assault occur. It was also explained that 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime. In addition we know that many cases of sexual assault go unreported due to shame, stigma, and fear. Sexual assault is always a big deal.
I came across the Science Daily the other day that talked about how popular crime shows such as “NCIS”, “CSI,” and “Law & Order” could help reduce the number of sexual assault cases. Studies revealed that those who watch crime shows that deal with sexual assault and predators along with punishment influenced them to avoid “sexual predatory” behavior in reality. I just had to read more.
Instantly I thought about the powerful and bold, bad-ass Lieutenant Olivia Benson from my favorite show, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (SVU), played by Mariska Hargitay. This year makes its 17th season—the longest-running primetime drama on television, according to NBC. Lieutenant Benson has been on the squad since the show first aired in 1999. Lieutenant Olivia Benson is a long time veteran of the unit and has seen it all. She leads with her hard work and expertise all while dealing with her own skeletons. Her character, too, has been a victim of rape which allows her to have empathy for victims and can relate to them more than any other detective on the force. Law & Order has allowed for viewers to see all aspects of each case from the situation, the victims, the evidence, the suspect and the verdict—allowing for individuals to see the reality and how it can hit very close to home. The fact that Olivia was a victim of rape and sexual assault and still works endlessly to help other victims... proves that she is truly one bad-ass. I have to get back to the point before I get all excited and write all about my favorite episodes (ALL OF THEM!), which is not why I’m writing.
In the Science Daily article, a survey of 313 college freshmen was conducted which explored how the influence of watching these popular crime shows affected them. It was also revealed that Law and Order and its legal characteristic better addressed topics such as sexual content, unlike other crime shows, verifying any fallacies and misconceptions about crimes.
This is such great news! Could watching these shows could in fact help in lowering the number of sexual assaults? It could make people more aware of their surroundings and knowing what to do in the case of a sexual assault. Not only that, it changes the view of consensual sex. It allows for men and women to be more careful in who they have relations with. It has been shown on the show the importance of getting to know someone and know what your children are doing and where they are going.
Television shows are not the only solution to the problem of sexual assault, but it is nice to know that some of them might be able to help in a small way.
Not only is Olivia a bad ass in the show with her relentless characteristics, her real self (LOL REAL self), Mariska Hargitay, was inspired and influenced by Olivia as well! How cool is it to be inspired by a role that you are playing yourself? Genius! To get the scoop on how it influenced her will be in part 2!