'Grey's Anatomy' Takes on Sexual Violence

SPOILER ALERT: If you aren't caught up with 'Grey's Anatomy,' this article contains spoilers. 

The Grey’s Anatomy episode that aired on March 28 was one of their most emotional episodes yet, and as someone who has watched every single episode multiple times, that's saying a lot. 

The episode starts off with a woman, Abby, who enters the hospital after being sexually assaulted. She is lost, confused and afraid. A fellow doctor, Jo Karev, spots her with a deep cut on her cheek and ushers her to the ER where she and cardiologist Dr. Teddy Altman learn the extent to her injuries. Abby has deep bruises and cuts on her neck, leg and stomach, and there are bite marks on her shoulder.

But Abby was afraid to tell anyone what she went through. She was afraid that her peers wouldn’t believe it mattered because she had a few too many drinks that night and because she was wearing too short of a skirt. She was afraid her husband wouldn’t see her the same anymore. She was afraid to lose more than she already had.

Dr. Jo Karev has her own complicated history with domestic violence. Her ex-husband physically and mentally attacked her, making her feel worthless and as if she deserved that torture. We also learn in this episode that, in search for her birth mom, Jo discovered that her mother abandoned her at a fire station because she was a product of rape. Jo’s history with this issue allows her to be there for this patient like no other doctor could and push her to fight for herself.


Jo convinces Abby to get a rape kit and according to The Hollywood Reporter, this episode depicts one of the most comprehensive portrayals of what it’s like to get a rape kit ever shown on television. Per legal protocol, Teddy consistently gets Abby’s consent prior to each step by asking, “Are you ready?”

But the most emotional scene was the hallway scene. Every woman who helped product this Grey’s Anatomy episode stood along the walls of the hallway in solidarity with Abby and every woman who has been a victim of sexual abuse.

According to The Mighty, the episode’s writer, Elisabeth R. Finch, stated that the hallway scene was inspired by what she had seen doctors do at hospitals to honor organ donors. She wanted to do something similar to honor Abby’s experience and, by extension, all sexual assault survivors. 


This episode left audience members with a lot of takeaways but most importantly:

You are not alone.

Your story matters. 

If you have experienced or are experiencing sexual violence at any time, please call 1800-656-HOPE for help.