On her first solo investigation, journalist Rae de Leon travels nationwide to uncover a shocking pattern: Young women tell the police they’ve been sexually assaulted, but instead of finding justice, they’re charged with the crime of making a false report, arrested, and even imprisoned by the system they believed would protect them.
Nancy Schwartzman follows investigative journalist Rachel De Leon after reading about a news report that struck her as odd, leading her to dive into numerous cases where rape victims suddenly found themselves arrested for false reporting. In Netflix’s VICTIM/SUSPECT, experts, lawyers, and survivors weigh in on this sickening trend.
Interrogation videos are startling, to put it nicely. The difference in tone and language between the accused and accusers will infuriate you. Victims appear in shock; most of them are taught to respect authority. The victim blaming and shaming will make your blood boil. This systematic problem is the personification of rape culture. Detective Carl Hershman, an incredible former SVU officer, helps us understand the why and how. The force needs more people like him.
Rachel reminds me of journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey from the explosive NYT articles accusing Harvey Weinstein. Their pounding-the-pavement style of door-knocking, interview requests, and meeting victims on their terms changed the face of the #MeToo movement for the better. Rae’s similar tenacity proves invaluable. She is doing the work, despite pushback and roadblocks from police. It is undeniably vital work. I hope she realizes the impact she has on survivors like myself.
The psychological damage is unfathomable. Trust me when I say there are more sexual assault survivors than you are comfortable comprehending. VICTIM/SUSPECT uses police officers’ own words against them. The blatant lies and heinous tactics to have these victims recant will blow you away. Your head will spin when you discover their training includes using “ruse” in questioning. The lack of actual investigation is staggering. Journalists like De Leon are quite literally saving lives. Nancy Schwartzman and Netflix are doing an essential service to victims with VICTIM/SUSPECT. It can only lead to justice.