Jessica Jones is the other voice in an often one-sided conversation about domestic violence. The show dropped at a time when there is a heightened awareness about the topic, especially if you are a sports fan, and after paying attention to so much of the media coverage one important voice becomes minimized. We rarely hear from the victims directly in these cases, especially in the high-profile ones where scrutiny is at an all-time high. They stay out of the public eye, which makes sense considering the crime, but the tradeoff is that it keeps everyone paying attention at an arm’s length. The gravity of what happened doesn’t register when it’s conveyed through lawyer speak and court documents, which sometimes tempers the public reaction to it. This show offers a perspective so often missing from domestic violence cases covered in the media. Its impact is closely tied to the fact that it’s a side of the story that is often left in the margins. The character Jessica Jones is a comic book hero in the Marvel universe with super powers and everything, but she is a woman and part of the impact of her story has to do with gender. This entire series is about a victim of abuse confronting the one responsible and all the complications and emotions that come with that. Domestic violence does not always involve a man and a woman, but it’s that dynamic that causes a collective stir. People pay attention and react when it is between men and women because that relationship is a familiar one to a majority of people. Her archnemesis Kilgrave has the power to control minds with a simple suggestion. Anything he commands has a powerful hypnotic effect that is almost always obeyed. It’s a power that supersedes any physical strength, which is how he ended up controlling Jessica. Kilgrave makes her do terrible things, which is something she confronts him about later in the series. Jessica outright calls him a rapist at one point in the show, which elicits a weak rebuttal. Kilgrave is quick to point out that he’s never directly harmed anybody and that she was the one who committed every crime and consented to anything he told her to do. That is technically true, but only the victims know for certain that it’s false. The problem is how difficult it is to convince other people beyond a reasonable doubt that the compulsion to do something isn’t their own. Kilgrave comes off as an arrogant man that is sure he won’t get caught because at that point he has all the power. The ones Kilgrave has hurt have no easy way to prove his culpability in their actions. The silent shackles he puts on Jessica is an ongoing issue throughout the show. His mind control is psychologically damaging, which is in some ways worse than getting the crap kicked out of you. It’s telling to see flashbacks of her life before running into him. She is a confident and strong personality that isn’t afraid of anything, but all of that changes post-Kilgrave. Jessica still has all the physical strength in the world, but suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder afterwards. When the show begins, she is a broken woman that drinks heavily, is paranoid and fearful of trusting other people. It makes sense that Jessica is fearful of Kilgrave when it looks like he’s about to return and her decision to fight him despite those feelings is the heroic moment that defines her. The issues that Jessica faces are similar to ones in real life Domestic violence cases. It’s a hot topic in the NFL, where there is intense scrutiny on how male athletes treat the women in their lives. Part of that has to do with Former Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice, who is known outside of sports after a video of him striking his wife in an elevator went viral a year ago. The incident led to an indefinite suspension from the NFL that has since been reinstated, although he hasn’t found a job. After that, any hint of domestic violence from any NFL player was big news. The biggest story this year is the story of Dallas Cowboys player Greg Hardy who is playing this year despite being convicted of assaulting his ex-girfriend in 2014. A judge found him guilty of the crime, but the victim failed to show up at the appeal and charges were dropped. Hardy was suspended to begin the season, but has now played eight games this year. The Cowboys faced some scrutiny for keeping Hardy on the roster, but It wasn’t until recently when photos of the victim were released that the wider public took notice. The flash points in both cases are the videos and photos that leave no doubt about what happened. Domestic Violence is uncomfortable to confront because it involves a personal and intimate relationship and we are wary of condemning someone for it if there is reasonable doubt. Details of what happened in the case of both Rice and Hardy are available to anybody that chooses to read court documents, but seeing it in video or through photos is visceral and undeniable to anybody that had doubts about what happened. In the court of public opinion, the burden of proof lay with the victims of domestic violence to prove the crime happened, but doing so involves reliving that trauma over again. This plays out in Jessica Jones as her desire to capture Kilgrave alive. She needs him alive for plot reasons, but her determination to do this despite the danger and inconvenience is a personal one as well. It means something to Jessica that people know Kilgrave exists and that he answers for what he did to her and others. Without that, there is a measure of doubt among the public as to what happened to the victims and it’s just as important to bring his actions to light as it is to make him pay for them. That reasonable doubt can often lead to victim blaming from those looking in from the outside. This is an attitude that marginalizes the survivors experience and makes it more difficult to come forward. One part of it is equating a look, word or gesture as justifiable reason for abuse your partner. There’s a difference between respecting the rights of the accused when there is reasonable doubt and devaluing the experience of a victim that feels like they were wronged. That doubt is the murky gray area that makes domestic violence a tricky topic and it’s the part Jessica Jones wades into regularly. Jessica goes through a form of victim blaming with Luke Cage. They are close throughout the series, but there is a point where their relationship goes through a rough spell as something Jessica did to hurt Luke while under Kilgrave’s influence comes to light. Luke gets mad and leaves Jessica because he is unable to get past the fact she was directly responsible for what happened. He’s too emotional at that point to completely believe that what she did with her own hands is completely due to Kilgrave’s powers. Luke can’t stand Jessica partly because she did some things that were untrustworthy and on some level some tiny part of him doesn’t believe her explanation. Regardless of what kind of nuance there is to the situation, it’s devastating that someone she trusted decided to leave her. Jessica Jones depicts what is often missing when news about domestic violence makes rounds through the media. In Jessica, we saw the a victim of a crime trying to cope with what happened and it resonated with audiences in a ripped from the headlines sort of way. Unlike a crime procedural like Law and Order, which chooses to recreate the legal reaction and the broad public reaction, Jessica Jones was more real and persona. I didn’t expect a superhero drama take a perspective often hidden through confidentiality and fear, and then bring it to light much better than we ever could in real life. It’s a pleasant surprise really that a Marvel show could be true to life, but also sobering that this is what victims of these crimes go through. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.