I had never heard of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" until freshman year of college, at the University of Maryland. My roommate loved the show, so one night I decided to join her. The first episode we watched focused on college sexual assault, portraying victims who, like us, were students who had just arrived on campus. The story line didn’t just unsettle me—it struck a nerve. I felt intensely connected to the characters, especially Mariska Hargitay’s Detective Olivia Benson. I ended up watching every episode, even though I couldn’t explain why "SVU" impacted me so profoundly. There was something deep at play. And as I watched, I slowly began to realize the connection.
It had started when I was fifteen, in high school. I had a crush on a boy who presented me with this concept of “friends with benefits.” I took that to mean he liked me, but all he wanted was the benefits. Soon, I started having problems with anxiety.