Among my guilty pleasures (and I have several) is Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. I’ve been watching since the days when the “young people” only associated Ice-T with rapping. Now during commercials Robert and I give our teenaged son brief historical lessons about how Detective Tutuola was the Original Gangster. In the most recent episode, Meagan Good guest stars in a me-too role, similar to Janay Palmer better known as Mrs. Ray Rice. Instead of sandals and an elevator, SVU casts Meagan’s character in heels matching her formal gown and places her in a stairwell. Both scenes are captured on security cameras. Both women take a concussion-yielding left to the face.
The SVU team pursued prosecuting the retired NFL star when the abused woman begs them to leave them to work out their issues through Jesus, not jail. But SVU persisted.
“What gives you the right?” Meagan asked repeatedly as SVU works to help her see the light.
Robert agreed. She was a grown woman who had made her choices. And one of them was to not press charges against her abuser despite Sergeant Benson and the Assistant District Attorney’s words, slowly shaking faces and staring eyes filled with the sadness of what was surely to come if she didn’t accept their help.
I disagreed—until I heard myself rationalizing why SVU was in the right—she is a victim, she is suffering from the low self-esteem and depression of a battered woman, until she can see it for herself we should help…
My words trailed off as I my inner voice spoke louder. Hypocrite, it called me.
How was this different than the drug-abusing patients with kidney failure I ranted about? I saw these patients as making choices to use drugs, even though I could acknowledge the addiction and the probably several other mental health disorders and childhood events that led them to those choices. I saw them as resisting and refusing help despite being informed of what was surely to come.
It wasn’t different. In both situations were adults living their lives as they chose, despite being invited to a different way.
But don’t misunderstand; I still believe we should focus our saving efforts on those who do not repeatedly place themselves in harms way. I’m just not a hypocrite about it anymore.