Date rape story on Law & Order tonight

Tonight’s episode of Law & Order SVU (8 pm, NBC) offers a prime-time look at date rape. The episode, titled “Gray” because of the gray areas involved, has a special place in the minds and hearts of some of the actresses on the show.

Here, Mariska Hargitay tells us why:

This episode is one that is very close to my heart. Given that rape is the most common violent crime on campuses, it is likely that someone you know and love was a victim of sexual violence during college. Its true for me — people I care deeply about were raped in college. So many of the letters I receive from fans are from women who were raped in college. In fact, we know that one out of four female students will be sexually assaulted before she graduates.

This episode captures the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses, and highlights the obstacles for survivors who wish to find justice and healing. Most campus sexual assaults occur between individuals who know one another, and often involve alcohol. This can make investigations into the crime difficult, and this episode presents arguments about how to determine whether an individual who is drunk is able to consent to sex.

The bottom line is that when a victim is severely impaired by alcohol, there is no ability to consent to sex.

Campus rape is so prevalent in part because it is so easy for the perpetrators to get away with it. Many campus sexual assaults are resolved through college disciplinary systems, and they are often an inadequate and dissatisfactory (sic) alternative to the criminal justice system that provides neither justice nor healing for the survivor.

We can do more to address and reduce campus rape, and college leaders can do their part by shining light into the darkness of sexual violence on their campuses. That makes this episode so important, and is why it will resonate with so many people.

Recently, an acquaintance rape case — and how it was handled — played a pivotal role in the U.S. Senate race between Ken Buck and Michael Bennet.

Here, actress Allison Siko tells us her story about this episode:

Now, if every dorm in Colorado could put this on in the common room tonight, this shadowy subject that no one likes to talk about might get a little much needed exposure.

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About the Author

Scot Kersgaard

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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