Big Little Lies Is Having the Tough Conversations About Sexual Assault

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Hearing that your dead son was a serial abuser is a lot for a mother to process; hopefully, after having some time, Mary Louise will be less reactive and defensive with Celeste. This scene made me think about a terrible experience of my own. In college, a man at a party asked me to stay and sleep with him, of which I refused. He followed me into the hallway, pinned me against the wall, and forced his hand inside me. When I escaped his grip, I walked home crying.

To this day, I’m still friendly with his sister, who often calls her brother her favorite person and holds him to the same high regards as Mary Louise holds Perry. I often wonder what my friend, the man’s sister, would say or think if I ever opened up to her about what happened with her brother. I know it wouldn’t be pretty, and I also know she wouldn’t believe me. Why believe someone you barely know over the person you grew up with and love with your whole heart? So, I was very affected by this particular scene.

Another gutting moment in Sunday’s episode transpired when Jane tells Ziggy about his real father, Perry. Like the twins, Ziggy also found out at school that his real father was Perry. When Jane confronts Ziggy about why he didn’t ask her about it, he says he figured she wouldn’t tell the truth. Ziggy then says he heard Jane was “salted.” Through tears, Jane tells him she thinks the word he heard was “assault,” and proceeds to open up about her experience.

Woodley told Vanity Fair that she didn’t consult experts about this scene, but rather went in somewhat unrehearsed to see what emotions poured out of her. “For me in that scene, it really was, how do you allow yourself to be in complete shock and be an adult in a situation where you yourself feel like a vulnerable child?” Talking to a child about rape isn’t something we often see on TV; Big Little Lies infused this scene with empathy, juxtaposing childlike innocence with adult trauma. Jane’s decision here is layered and realistic, and one that many survivors and mothers have had to make in their own lives, too.

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Both Jane and Celeste’s admissions cause them trouble later in the episode. Mary Louise says she’s going to the police with what Celeste has told her, as it’s pertinent information that wasn’t disclosed during investigations. Jane’s confession puts her at odds with Celeste because they made a previous agreement not to tell their children the truth about Perry. Celeste’s twins ask their mother if Perry was a bad man, and she chooses the opposite path of Jane, saying that Perry made mistakes but was a good man. It’s another thorny issue: Jane was tired of lying to her son, which created distance between them. But Ziggy’s knowledge is a threat to Celeste’s sons, who could easily find out that their father was a rapist and abuser. That’s a lot for children to comprehend.



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