“Law & Order: SVU” has a victim in its own unit

Like some other lesbians, I didn’t watch the tenth season premiere of Law and Order: SVU just to see Sara Gilbert play a mother who gave her child away to a fellow rape victim. I’ve been a fan of the series for the past couple of years, coming in late but having since caught up via USA weekend marathons.

One of the reasons I’m a fan, of course, is because of Mariska Hargitay.

You can have your vampire slayers and Terminator-types: Detective Olivia Benson is my favorite fighter of evil. She’s a gun-toting tough woman that puts pedophiles and sex offenders behind bars.

So it was somewhat unpleasant to see Benson shook up like she was during last night’s episode.

At the end of season nine, Detective Benson went undercover in a women’s prison where she successfully caught prison guards who were sexually assaulting the prisoners. Unfortunately, she came too close to becoming a rape victim herself, and was unable to escape the assault when a guard put his business in her face.

The new season picks up three months later, and Benson is not able to sleep. She can barely acknowledge the new ADA Kim Greylek (played by Michaela McManus) when she introduces herself to the entire office. And while Benson attempts to console Gilbert’s character and get her to see a counselor, she’s having a tough time dealing with her own post-assault issues.

Obviously, the Special Victims Unites covers sex crimes, so the line of work isn’t for the light-hearted, and up until now, Benson hasn’t let too much personal business get in the way; but I think if anything, this storyline is giving her strength, not a weakness.

It seems as if the tenth season will focus not just on on Benson’s personal life, but on rape legislation. ADA Kim Greylek alerted Detective Stabler (Christopher Meloni) to her “pet project”: making rape be recognized as a hate crime. Interesting, and also somewhat relevant to Benson’s current storyline.

At any rate, it’s certainly positive to have rape cases be treated with due respect on the show (such as the countless times the statute of limitations has been referred to as complete ridiculousness on the part of the justice system).

Do you watch Law and Order: SVU? Do you find Detective Benson’s storyline to be a natural progression from what happened to her last season? What do you think of the new ADA’s mission?