2 years ago10,000+ Views

"All you gave me was shame!"

[Content warning for discussion of rape and domestic violence]. [Not SPOILER free].
Jessica Jones has been getting a lot of (well-earned) acclaim for being gritty, well-designed, and compelling. Frankly, it's one of the best things Marvel has done. But this show deserves credit for something else. Honestly, I was nervous going in. I was familiar with the comics, and I knew that one of the crimes The Purple Man/Kilgrave committed was sexual assault. And unfortunately that's not a subject that our media handles well.

We victim-blame. We sympathize with attackers.

In the court of public opinion, we often absolve them of any crime. According to RAINN, only 3 out of every 100 rapists ever spend a day in prison. The majority still go unreported, and victims often state that they don't come forward because they're scared. They're shamed into silence. Or they're dismissed, told that they're wrong about what they experienced. Told they're lying, or blowing it out of proportion.

Jessica Jones shut that right down.

Just in case the images won't load, here's the text of that scene:
Kilgrave: We used to do a lot more than just touch hands.
Jessica: Yeah, it's called rape.
Kilgrave: What? Which part of staying in five-star hotels, eating in all the best places, doing whatever the hell you wanted, is rape?
Jessica: The part where I didn't want any of it! Not only did you physically rape me, but you violated every cell in my body and every thought in my goddamn head.
Kilgrave: That is not what I was trying to do.
Jessica: It doesn't matter what you were trying to do! You raped me. Again and again and again.

Something horrific happened to this woman.

Kilgrave used his powers to force her to do whatever he wanted. He brainwashed her, and while most abusers don't have powers, they often use manipulative tactics to force their victims to stay with them. Kilgrave is a monster and he used his powers to control her. And then he convinced himself that he was the victim, that he had done nothing wrong. Which is what makes him the villain of this story. And what's amazing is that he reads just like a textbook case of an abuser. He's self-centered, he's obsessed with her, stalks her, he's convinced that they're in love and "meant to be", so sure that he's in the right and that she's just "acting crazy", that they're in a "rough patch".
And when he finally realizes she doesn't want him...

"Or maybe I'll just kill her."

For most victims of domestic violence, the times when they try to leave their partners are the most dangerous. Abusers adopt the mentality of "if I can't have her, no one can", the most extreme iteration of a repeating pattern of abuse: treating their partners like objects or possessions.

Jessica Jones is a hero.

And not just because she's powerful, or because she tracks down bad guys. It's because this show faced the horror of rape and relationship violence head on. Something that 1 in 3 American women face at one point in their lives. Jessica Jones stood up for all of those women and said no, this isn't love. This is torture. This is abuse. Her struggle to provide evidence in the courtroom, her own self-doubt and trauma, even her attempts to save him are all battles that victims often have to face. She faced the demons, and maybe someone else will see her and find the courage to do the same.

"Abuse thrives only in silence."

If you want more information on the subject, this TED talk by survivor Leslie Morgan Steiner is a little more grounded in reality. However, I've found that sometimes fiction can be just as effective. It can be easier to examine fictional villains to see patterns that can lead to violence, and it can be empowering to look up to fictional heroes when we need courage. Which is why Jessica Jones has my deepest gratitude.
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I don't think that Kilgrave talked himself into thinking that what he did to Jessica was rape. I think for him he really didn't know better. That's not sympathy for the character. That's what makes him a dangerous monster that should be put down.
@LizArnone YESSSS OMG ENJOY @TerrellHenry Oh I completely agree, maybe I should have expressed that better. He convinced himself that they were in love, that what he was doing was all right. Which unfortunately makes him very similar to the people who do this in real life
this is one of the reasons why I loved this show.the creators really put a lot of effort into the portrayal of kilgraves behavior towards Jessica.every thing he did was an effort to control her,while still convincing himself that it was because he loved her.but Jessica never doubts what she really experienced. even though she was brainwashed at the time,now that she is clear headed she understands fully that what kilgrave did to her was rape and abuse. but in a way, like many victims,she still blames herself.but I think that her relationship with Hope kind of helped her realise that this wasn't the case.and what I think was really great is that they also focused on parental abuse.Trish's character deserves a lot of credit too.Trish suffers abuse from her own mother,but grows up to become kind,strong,and successful in her own right.I hope that victims of all kinds of abuse can relate to these two characters and heal by realising that the abuse was not their fault.and I hope that they can also find strength the way that Trish and Jessica did.
@ButterflyBlu unfortunately you're right.some people are even shipping kilgrave and Jessica. :((
@ChosenKnight oh my goodness you're so right about Trish, thank you for pointing that out. And especially the way her mom spoke, now that I think of it she justified herself in a way that was very similar to Kilgrave. Trying to guilt-trip Trish by re-framing what happened as something she did for her daughter because she cared for her. And then trying to use whatever info she had to try and get her power back. Trish and Jessica obviously coped in very different ways, because they're very different people. And one of the things the show did really well was emphasize that when it comes to the victims of abuse, it's important to give them the space to decide what to do, to take back control of their lives. Trish asked Jessica not to tell anyone and she didn't. Hope wanted an abortion and she had one. It's one of the first things crisis counselors learn and it's one of the most important.