Once in a while, SVU tackles the issue of male survivors not being heard or believed.

Law & Order: SVU Season 22 Episode 15 was one of those times, and it did not disappoint.

Michael Gladis did great work as an unstable and tortured victim who was afraid to come forward, leading to one of SVU's most tense hours yet.

Andy was far from an ideal witness to his own assault, which was both frustrating and realistic.

As Captain Cragen told Benson on Law & Order: SVU Season 1 Episode 1, the team doesn't get to pick its victims.

Many survivors, male and female, have habits or personality traits that make it harder to prosecute their cases, and Andy was no exception.

His alcoholism and drug addiction and his difficulty in coming forward at all worked against him, especially since his wife hired a sharp attorney who was able to twist his past actions to tell a different story.

Before even getting to court, though, Benson had to convince most of the SVU team and the ADA that Andy was the victim.

Benson: We've been here a hundred times. In our experience, victims don't make up stories of abuse. If a woman is intimidated by a male assailant, we believe her.
Fin: What do you want us to do?
Benson: Fight for the victim.

I was glad that Benson made it clear that believing survivors doesn't have a gender attached. Many people in the #MeToo movement either forget male survivors or actively deny that their stories are important, and that needs to stop.

As this story demonstrated, rape is rape regardless of the genders involved, and the experience often torments survivors of all genders.

To be clear, many survivors have a hard time if they choose to pursue legal action.

No one gender has a lock on being the most maligned in this regard. There's a ton of victim-blaming, slut-shaming, and other unsavory behavior toward survivors that can make it harder to come forward, never mind get justice if they do.

But there are some issues specific to male survivors that I thought SVU did a great job bringing to light.

For example, while many abusers threaten to take children away, the family court system is often biased toward female caretakers, so it's relatively easy to keep a male victim in line by threatening to sue for full custody.

And while police don't always take sexual assault reports as seriously as they should, it seemed like there was more skepticism and doubt when it came to a male survivor.

Garland: Are you sure he didn't just misspeak?
Benson: His injuries are consistent with sexual assault.
Garland: You think it's his wife? What can we do about this?
Benson: Right now, not a damn thing.

Carisi even had to tell Kat that there was such a thing as men getting sexually assaulted, which was something an SVU detective should be well aware of before being hired!

It was interesting that the cops looked into whether Andy could have been having a secret gay affair. It was a reasonable alternative explanation for his injuries and secrecy.

It also demonstrated how internalized homophobia plays a part in male survivors not coming forward, as did the other guys on the construction crew making fun of Andy and implying he wasn't masculine enough.

And Diana easily claimed that Andy attacked her with a knife when he didn't because the police were so used to men assaulting women instead of the other way around that it seemed totally plausible.

Carisi: Whatever happened, both of his [Charlie's] parents are trying to protect him.
Benson: That's what worries me. When couples get to this point, the next call could come from the morgue.

The biggest concern, of course, was Andy's drinking and pill use.

His substance use issues caused him to be so out of it that he couldn't say for sure that he hadn't assaulted Diana, which almost sabotaged his own testimony.

And Diana might have been able to get away with taking Charlie from him by claiming in court that he was an unfit parent who was often drunk and high around their son.

This issue was glossed over a bit. I know it wasn't the point of the episode, but I was shocked that that judge didn't admonish him much about coming to court drunk.

Was his testimony even admissible, considering that he was so drunk he couldn't stand up without collapsing?

Speaking of which, the only point I wish SVU had hit that they didn't was that on the night of the rape, Andy's level of intoxication likely made him incapable of consent.

He said that he woke up after passing out drunk to find his wife in the middle of penetrating him with a vibrator, and the defense attorney made a big deal out of how maybe this was consensual -- and no one brought up the issue of him being too impaired to be able to consent.

SVU got so much right that maybe, in this case, it didn't matter, but there are too many cases where one partner is too drunk to be able to consent and too many people who think those cases are one-night stands rather than assaults.

That said, I loved Andy standing up to Diana at the last minute of the hour.

I wasn't sure that allowing her to have any type of visitation or custody was a good idea, but at least Andy made it clear he was done with her forever.

Andy: I have something to say to you. I won't stop you from seeing Charlie.
Diana: So we'll both be in his life?
Andy: Yes. We just won't be in each other's.

Let's hope he gets counseling to deal with the years of abuse, stops drinking, and doesn't let her worm her way back into his life.

Your turn, SVU fanatics! How did you think the series did handling this male survivor story?

Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know!

Want to refresh your memory first? Just watch Law & Order: SVU online right here on TV Fanatic.

Law & Order: SVU's historic 22nd season continues to air on NBC on Thursdays at 9 PM EST/PST.

The season finale will air on June 3, 2021.



source https://www.tvfanatic.com/2021/05/law-and-order-svu-season-22-episode-15-review-what-can-happen-in/

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