'13 Reasons Why' season 3: Jessica's unique road to recovery from rape victim to survivor is not something we see often on shows

From admitting that the problem is with herself, to indulging in sex toys and exploring the world of kinky rough sex, Jessica comes out glowing and healthy in season 3.


                            '13 Reasons Why' season 3: Jessica's unique road to recovery from rape victim to survivor is not something we see often on shows

This article contains major spoilers for season 3.

'13 Reasons Why' has finally reached the level of maturity and uniqueness that was needed from the Netflix teen-drama, forcing male rape, teen suicide and bullying to be taken seriously. Season 3's plot of Jessica Davis (Alisha Boe) reclaiming her body after her harrowing realization she was sexually assaulted by one of her peers is a step in the right direction.

It was revealed at the end of season 1 that Jessica, in an intoxicated state, was raped by Bryce Walker (Justin Prentice). In season 2 we saw her trying to come to terms with that realization and was scared enough to not want to proceed with testifying against Bryce in court, and after much convincing from Clay she was finally able to overcome her fears and inhibitions and admit what was done to her, publicly. 

At the beginning of season 3, we see Jessica finally finding her voice and power as the narrator and the new girl in their school Ani Anchola (Grace Saif) tells her at the beginning of their school year. Jessica looks healthy, gets elected as Student Council president, and even runs a sexual assault survivors club to establish the need for change in high-school dynamics. She has a caring boyfriend in Alex Standall (Miles Heizer) and seems to be finally moving on, until both she and the viewers realize, not quite.

Jessica spends a lot of time being shut off from her needs for physical intimacy, unable to partake in sex completely, despite having a loving boyfriend. (Netflix)

 

Jessica starts confiding in Ani that despite making progress sex with Alex has been awful. It's mostly her own problem, Jess thinks; she admits she thought she was ready to get back to normal in the physical intimacy aspect but as she points out all of the things that are supposed to make her feel good make her feel nothing because of how shut off she is from accepting her own body. Every time she looks at her naked self she is reminded of Bryce raping her, and she ends up looking at her through his eyes.

That is, until, Ani points out that the first step to reclaiming her body is showing some love to it herself. Thus begins Jessica's exploration of sex toys and the joys of pleasuring herself. We see a shy, scarred teen buy her first-ever toys and looks at herself in the mirror to remind herself that she isn't the disgusting being her mind is making her out to be. She admits to have thought about someone she must not think about while masturbating, and we later find out that the subject of her fantasies was Justin Foley (Brandon Flynn), her ex-boyfriend who allowed Bryce to rape her and the same guy she hooked up with in the finale of season 2 while dating Alex.

Luckily, she is able to rekindle that love for her own body slowly, as she realizes that despite Justin's inexcusable crimes, the two also have a spark left burning. (Netflix)

 

First it starts off as a sudden secret kiss in their school's janitor-closet and soon turns into a brazen affair where the two are going at it like rabbits in the supply room of Monet's or in shady motels. Jess finds out she likes controlling what her body does and where it goes during sex thus leading her to explore the world of rough sex, armed with blindfolds, handcuffs, and plenty of choking, but it's her who's dominating.

It's not something we see often in pop culture where rape victims are usually able to open up in the comforting arms of the next person who seems to love them. In Jessica's case maybe Justin is the one for her as she keeps catapulting back to him all the time, but what is essentially a part of her journey from victim to survivor is finding her control in the acts of physical intimacy. While she is dominant in the secret affair they seem to be having, it would be wrong to label Jess in negative terms. She is just a woman who has found her voice and isn't afraid to explore. But most importantly she begins enjoying things that were snatched away from her for a while and that is her true recovery.

'13 Reasons Why' premiered this Friday, August 23, on Netflix. All three seasons are available for streaming now.

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