TV Shows, Pop Culture

Grey’s Anatomy delivers powerful episode on consent that made me feel empowered

Episodes like "Silent All These Years" can be hard to watch, but it's important to raise awareness.

Trigger warning: Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. 

On March 28, Grey’s Anatomy aired the 19th episode of their 15th season called “Silent All These Years”. For the majority of episode, the plot covered the topic of domestic violence, sexual assault, and the importance of consent. Since its airing, fans and critics have left many positive comments and reviews on how powerful the show handled these topics.

This episode was a great way to end Women’s History Month, also perfect timing for Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April. In the 14 years since this show has aired, “Silent All These Years” has got to have been one of the heaviest episodes in the show’s history.

If you aren’t familiar with Grey’s Anatomy (although, where have you been for the past 14 years?), it is about the professional and personal lives of the different doctors working at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital in Seattle, WA. Jo Karev (played by Camilla Luddington) was in an abusive relationship with her ex-husband. She mentions her past experiences when she meets Abby, (played by Khalilah Joi) when the latter is admitted to the hospital after being sexually assaulted. When Abby is in the ER, she is scared to admit that a guy at a bar put her hands on her. She is also afraid of telling her husband of the incident because she thought her husband would think she was flirting. Eventually, the woman reveals her truth about the man abusing her and Jo is right there by her side supporting her.

The thought of Abby being scared and vulnerable in a horrible situation is absolutely heartbreaking. Looking through her perspective makes me think that no woman should have to go through that. What was interesting, yet important to mention about Abby’s truth to what happened was how were people going to question about her situation. How short was her skirt? Was she drinking? There are all kinds of common misconceptions when a victim of sexual assaults is asked when to describe what happened to them. 

But what was disheartening was how worried she was that no one would believe her. She explains that if she does the rape kit, her case would be ignored for years until it finally gets noticed. Situations like this are why people ask: “Why didn’t they report it in the first place?”. Most of the times, victims do speak up and report their incident, but often get shoved in the back and never get coverage until they turn to social media and do so.

Jo starts to tell Abby her story about her own situation with her past relationship. She looks back and remembers how she wished she got the justice she deserved, saying that Abby can get her chance and let her voice be heard. She then agrees to do the rape kit, which is a hard scene to watch. Jo asks for her consent throughout this process.

Before Abby goes into surgery, she starts to become fearful of every man she looks at, because they remind her of her attacker. Jo gathers up all of the women at the hospital and lines them up on the wall while Abby is being taken into the OR. About 100 women were involved in this scene, in solidarity with Abby, to show her she is not alone.

After her surgery, Abby calls her husband, telling him what happened, then calls the police. At the end of the episode, Ben Warren (played by Jason Winston George) is giving a talk to his stepson about consent: “You need to care about her feelings and her joy as much as you care about your own.” This is an important conversation that everyone needs to have because we should all know how someone feels about agreeing to something that may make them uncomfortable. It is always best to ask how they feel.  

Creator of the series Shonda Rhimes fought back against ABC for this episode to be filmed. This episode was inspired by the Christine Balsey Ford’s testimony of when she accused the Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault in the summer of 1982. This episode was absolutely needed and I’m glad Shonda decided go forward with this move. We must learn how to support victims of abuse and how we should not be afraid to stand up, let our voices be heard, and seek justice. I wouldn’t be surprised if this gets talked about for the next week because it deserves to be. It will definitely go down in Grey’s Anatomy‘s history. 

If you, or someone you know that has been a victim of sexual assault, please call 800-656- HOPE (4673), and visit the website, RAINN.org.