Unbelievable: Why We Should Believe Women

Before anyone reads this, I would like to point out that this is a sensitive topic, show, and article that talks about sexual assault and can contain triggers/spoilers. 


This summer, Netflix released a new TV series called Unbelievable, it is based on true sexual assault events that happened in the states of Washington and Colorado in the early 2000s. The show mostly revolves around the story of Marie Adler, the victim from Washington, who goes from being treated as a victim to a suspect in her own case. This series shows what many women go through as victims of sexual assault, highlighting how in some instances women are not taken seriously.

(Photo by Kaitlyn Dever on Instagram)

The show begins with Marie an 18-year-old woman who is learning to live on her own after being in the foster care system almost all her life. In the middle of the night, a man breaks into Marie’s apartment, sexually assaults her and takes pictures of her. When the police show up at Marie’s home, they ask her questions, you are able to notice she was in shock, but managed to describe what she remembered to the best of her knowledge. All victims experience and handle shock and trauma differently. In Marie’s case, the cops dismissed her case because they saw inconsistencies in her story; they pressured her into falsely admitting that she made her assault up. As a result of saying that her story was made up, Marie’s life turns upside down; her friends do not want anything to do with her and she struggles with her job as well as keeping a good relationship with her former foster parents.

Shortly after Marie’s assault, another woman in Seattle reports that she was sexually assaulted in her home, was tied, and photographed.

(Photo by Lucas Benjamin on Unsplash)

Three years after Marie’s assault, two female detectives, Rasmussen and Duvall, from Colorado are investigating a series of sexual assaults happening in the area. The accounts all sound similar to what happened in the story of Marie and the other woman from SeattleThe two women work for different precincts, but joined forces to find the man behind these crimes. As the show develops, we see the obstacles that the detectives faced in their investigation, such as having little to no physical evidence to help them get DNA. However, after months of investigating, Rasmussen and Duvall are able to find their suspect, Army veteran Christopher McCarthy. 

When the detectives are doing a search of McCarthy’s house in Colorado, they find his backpack and sweater, things that all the victims described in their recounts. However, the most chilling pieces of evidence were the pictures he had from the victims. While going through the pictures, the detectives come across Marie’s and contact the detective who was in charge of Marie’s case before it was withdrawn. Detective Robert Parker is in disbelief as he realizes that he had made a terrible mistake and mishandled Marie’s case.  

(Photo by LegalHelpServices on Instagram)

In the final episode, Marie is visited by Detective Parker, who went to share the information he received, but Marie did not want anything to do with him. Instead, she wants to sue the city because of all the losses and damage the police caused. Marie gets a lawyer and he is able to get the city to offer her $150,000 as long as they do not go to trial, she accepts this offer because she just wanted the city and police to acknowledge that they mishandled her case and move on. In this episode we also see the hearing for McCarthy, the judge sentenced him to over 300 years in prison. At the end Marie calls Detective Duvall to thank her for not giving up on these cases, because of her and Detective Rasmussen’s work, she has a better outlook on her future. 


This show gives an insight into what assault victim’s can go through and how their lives can change. The message I think is important to understand is that we must always believe women in these situations and take them seriously, we cannot be quick to discredit them; they deserve justice and peace of mind.