Lieutenant Olivia Benson, Special Victims Unit

LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT — Pictured: “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” Key Art — (Photo by: NBCUniversal)

Every Wednesday night at 9/8c you can find me watching Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Each episode brings a new and exciting case for sex crimes detectives to solve. The shows longest running character is Olivia Benson, played by Mariska Hargitay, a special victims unit detective who has made her way through the ranks in her 18 seasons on the show. Olivia Benson has received and given her fair share of hell and can be seen as an inspiration to women around the world.

With every female victim Olivia Benson has helped, she always reassures them that the assault, rape, abuse, or whatever they have faced is not their fault. She makes sure the women understand that they are innocent in the situation. This is so important in a society that consistently victim blames women who have been raped. Women are often faced with questions like “Well what were you wearing?” “How were you dancing?” “Did you lead him on?”. Society acts as if women should protect themselves from rape, when we aren’t blaming the men for their violent actions. This pattern of victim blaming can be seen in The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison in Cholly’s rape of Pecola. The women of the town are later talking about Pecola saying “She carry some of the blame” “How come she didn’t fight him?”. These women automatically blame Pecola for this, when she should be considered innocent. Marah Gubar, in her essay on “Innocence” in Keywords for Children’s Literature, writes “the Oxford English Dictionary describes ‘innocence’ as ‘freedom from sin, guilt, or moral wrong’”(121). Olivia Benson would say that Pecola should be innocent as she was not the one who “sinned” and shouldn’t feel “guilty” and didn’t do anything “morally wrong”; however, Pecola’s innocence is stolen from her. Women who have been raped should feel “freedom from sin, guilt, or moral wrong” because they did nothing wrong, and Lieutenant Olivia Benson always makes sure the victims she deals with know that.

3 thoughts on “Lieutenant Olivia Benson, Special Victims Unit”

  1. I love SVU and Olivia Benson. I think that her presence in the show and the way in which is carries it is inspirational. After Elliot left the show it continued to rise with her as a dominant female figure and I love it. I totally get what you are saying about the way she empowers not only victims but herself through her own traumatic experiences. I think that she reinforces a positive message that is often missing in modern pop culture.

  2. I have noticed this in a lot of shows and movies! I’m glad that a lot of the times there is someone to assure the victim that it is not their fault, but I wish it didn’t have to be just one person. Society needs to recognize it is never the victim’s fault, but the assailant’s.

  3. I am also a huge fan of this show, and specifically a fan of the Olivia character. She consistently amazes me how she handles situations, and treats victims, regardless of gender, with such great respect. I hope that if people were to watch this show, they’d pay special attention to how her character is written, and learn to treat all victims of sexual crimes as she does.

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