The Effects of Rape and Sexual Trauma on its Victims
Mellie Grant, the scheming, conniving and willful First Lady at first glance, has a much richer history. A history that connects to many more of the American people than one would think and shapes her personality to make her one of the most #Scandalous and yet, dynamic characters in Scandal. It is the story of rape as a young woman. A story whose statistics transcend politics, race, socioeconomic status and gender. It is a story that is seldom told because the humiliation,shame, and fear keeps its victims silent.
Mellie Grant was a newly wed to her husband Fitzgerald Grant at the time of the rape. Her father in law, a Senator Jerry Grant rapes her one evening while he is drunk. The next day, Mellie suppresses her feelings around the rape and it is never brought up again until Mellie begins to have flashbacks in the third season of Scandal. The feelings of humiliation, fear, and shame often become a chokehold on victims on rape. Humans during a traumatic event experience an automatic defense of Fight, Flight or Freeze. Yelling and use of physicality to defend oneself demonstrate the defense of fight. Flight is the act of escaping the situation in order to remove the external event. Freeze is the act of becoming stuck, an inability to move and a dissociation of the trauma.
Mellie froze and completely internalized all feelings of hurt, shame, guilt, and fear that she may have had. The way that she coped with the pain appeared as her emotionally cutting off from others. We see this evident in her inability to have truly intimate relationships with others based on love an vulnerability. All her relationships, even some interactions with her children demonstrate a certain hyper vigilance and scheming in order to get her needs met. Hyper vigilance or the sense of always looking over your shoulder, is a symptom of #Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or commonly known as PTSD. PTSD is a common emotional reaction to trauma. Other symptoms of PTSD are flashbacks of the traumatic events, difficulty sleeping, nightmares, and sever anxiety.
Mellie dealt with her pain internally and carried on. As a society we often tell ourselves and others to, “Just suck it up”. I visualize Mellie as doing just this yet the pain that was festering on the inside transformed Mellie into the cold and calculated woman that we witness while watching the series.