In a recent episode of the new Apple TV series Lessons in Chemistry, the show’s lead character, scientist Elizabeth Zott, played by Brie Larson, suffers a panic attack when a male colleague closes the door to her research lab, leaving them alone in a closed space. The experience conjures memories of a sexual assault during her college years and triggers an emotional response to “danger” that explains her relationship reluctance and obsessive-compulsive nature.
Lessons in Chemistry takes place in the 1950s when women weren’t always taken seriously as scientists and often demeaned by male peers. Though Zott is intelligent, capable, and attractive, most males at her research company don’t see past her exterior or take her seriously as a professional, even though her skills are superior. They are depicted as bullies disguising their low self-esteem with fits of rage, deception, and desire to control.
Aside from all that’s wrong with the way women were treated in the 1950s, one of the show’s biggest takeaways is the reminder that sexual assault wreaks havoc on people’s lives, leaving them with emotional scars that never fully fade. No matter how successful Elizabeth Zott becomes as she turns her talents as a chemist into the wildly popular “Supper at Six” TV cooking show, she will never forget her assault or the person who did it.
According to psychologist Rebecca Campbell, PhD, of Michigan State University, studies dating back to the 1980s found that between 17% and 65% of women who have experienced sexual assault develop PTSD, 13% to 51% develop depression, and up to 40% experience generalized anxiety (Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, Vol. 10, No. 3, 2009). Alcohol dependence and substance misuse are also common.
Because of these facts and many more, The Hive works tirelessly to provide Emergency & Economic Relief and Free Counseling to survivors. Licensed professionals help individuals work through their feelings, manage stress, and develop coping skills. The cost of one session is $80. Donations to The Hive ensure mental health professionals play a role in our mission to restore hope, eliminate abuse, and prevent homicides.
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