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Everything You Didn’t Want To Face: Hannah Baker’s Rape

*Major spoiler alert and trigger warning*

I’m sure a lot of you reading this have seen a lot of fuss in the media about Jay Asher’s murder mystery turned Netflix show 13 Reasons Why. Not only am I a huge fan of the show, but I’m a huge fan of how involved Asher was in the production of it. However, that’s not what we’re here to talk about. We’re here to talk about Hannah Baker’s rape.

Up for debate is the accuracy of many things 13 Reasons Why portrays: mental health, high school, the stigma that suicide holds, etc. What is NOT (at least in my eyes) up for debate is the way Asher portrayed Hannah’s rape in this series. 

For those unfamiliar, Hannah takes us all on a journey through her old stomping grounds. She shows us the streets that shaped her mental state, the scenery that she wouldn’t get to take in for much longer, and finally, the richest parts of her neighborhood where Bryce is throwing one of his renowned parties. She walks through the immaculate gate to his pool, stumbling past the red solo cups and liquor bottles carelessly strewn about, to the hot tub where her peers are. 

Hannah decided to join them, stripping down to her bra and underwear in replacement of a bathing suit. Everything was going well. Her “friends” eventually left for their significant others, whether that meant their boyfriend or alcohol, and she was left looking up into the night sky at the luminous stars. This is one of the first times that the audience sees her at peace, but we should’ve known it would all come crashing down as it always does.

Her serene silence is broken by Bryce who is vocally flirting, asking her why he hasn’t seen her at one of his parties before, and moving closer with every sentence. Eventually, it’s clear she is becoming uncomfortable and she says OUT LOUD that she should go because her parents will worry. She begins to make her way out of the hot tub, but not before Bryce grasps her breasts and says “we’re just having fun.”

She’s not, though.

In one last ditch effort to get out, Hannah grabs the side of the tub to hoist herself up, but Bryce is faster than her, one step ahead, and pulls her down. We see Hannah fight back as hard as she can until Bryce overpowers her. Hannah’s arms go limp and her grip weakens. Her eyes glaze over as she realizes that he has won. We are left to see her moved by the unwelcome thrusts of Bryce forcefully intruding her body, her pride, over and over again. 

This article has taken me a very long time to complete and every time I try to write more on the subject, tears fill my eyes. The accuracy of the rape that Hannah Baker experienced, the accuracy of the way that it is handled in the show by her peers, her adult mentors, explains so much to those who are unfamiliar about the subject. 

It’s uncomfortable to watch for those who have known the feeling that Hannah felt, but more so for those who haven’t, because how could they understand? Why would they want to try?

When questioned about his reasoning behind such a graphic scene, Asher said, “In a way, it’s disrespectful if we say, ‘We know this stuff is happening, but we don’t want to be made uncomfortable by it.’” He went on to state, “It’s uncomfortable, but that’s OK…it needs to be.”

Read that again: “It needs to be.”

I never want someone to see this and have their wounds reopened so aggressively because of the accuracy the rape portrayed, even though it is such a good thing that it is portrayed so well. I don’t ever want someone who is unfamiliar with the fight to watch this and think that Hannah should’ve fought harder, should’ve used more strength, shouldn’t have given up. I never want someone to understand the tingling sensation they get in their forehead, that travels down their spine, accompanied by a dull ringing in their ears because they’re brought right back to where they originally were when their own sexual assault took place. I never want someone to know how Hannah Baker feels putting back on the sopping wet clothing, the clothing she will never be able to look at again, only to walk back to her home, dragging along the heavy secret that nows lies within her. I never want someone to smell the cologne of their assailant and stiffen in fear that they may be around them once again or that they may be in danger.

Most of all, I don’t ever want someone to think that they were deserving of such a cruel act of violence. 

Whether you intentionally clicked this article or you stumbled upon another unsolicited opinion on the show, I want you to be left with one of two things: Hannah Baker did not deserve nor ask for the aggressive rape of Bryce, whether or not she vocally said the words “no.” 

In honor of this beautiful month, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, get the conversation about rape and sexual assault started.

Ask questions (with permission). Seek guidance from a professional if you or someone you know has been violated. Be an advocate for those too afraid to speak. Recognize that it is never the fault of the victim, only the offender(s). Make a difference. 

And for those who understand what Hannah Baker feels like, recognize that your worth does not lie in the violation of your body. It takes a long time, a life time, to heal from something like this and your heart is broken. Please know I understand, but let light into those broken parts of your heart to grow and become brand new.

You are worthy of this life and of a second chance. 










Jennifer is a senior Public Relations major with a minor in Sociology. When she isn't writing, Jennifer is involved with her sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta-Nu Alpha, is writing music, is making your favorite coffee, stopping every stranger on the street to pet their dogs, probably napping, and giving glory to The Lord for all of the opportunities she has been given. 
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