Justin: Jess, please, I was trying to protect you.
Jessica: Protect me? Seriously?
Justin: I thought if you didn’t know, if no one found out…
Jessica: What? I’d be fine? I’d go about my life? You and I would get married and live happily ever after?
Justin: That’s what I wanted, was for us to to be together. Forever.
Jessica: You let him.
Justin: No, I was drunk. And I was scared.
Jessica: So was I.
Justin: Bryce was at the…..
Jessica: Don’t say that name!
Justin: I’m sorry, it’s just that, every time I was thrown out, when my mom was fucked up, one of her boyfriends was fucking with me he was there for me. When I had no money, when I was starving, his folks bought my shit for school. Okay, when my mom was busted for possession, he got his dad to bail her out.
Jessica: They do that shit so they can own you.
Justin: No. Okay? Last year, I couldn’t afford new shoes for basketball. I went through four pairs that season. When we got to playoffs, they just had, like, holes. Bryce didn’t offer to buy me new shoes. He pretended he had an extra pair.
Jessica: Justin. Are you seriously trying to make excuses for what you did?
Justin: No. I just want you to understand.
Jessica: And I want you to understand what it’s like to be raped. But I truly hope you never will.
~ Justin & Jessica, EP 12
My heart was full of sadness whenever I saw this segment. Jessica and Justin are the two characters who are not able to see the truth of sexual assault and the bullying behaviors from the group of friends hanging around with Bryce. Jessica is a victim who was drunk and cannot face the music of herself being the victim. Justin is the victim of the family violence. His outlet and rescue are another perpetrators, Bryce, and his family. As Jessica pointed out, Bryce and his family own him. At the same time, Jessica has been using alcohol to cover up her pain because she knows smoothing happened. She can’t face her music, and she chose to believe in Justin.
What hurts me the most is how both Jessica and Justin cannot face who they are, and that’s why they cannot meet the truth about rape and to allow the others to control their behaviors. They engaged in blaming Hannah and participated in different activities with Bryce and his group of friends to avoid seeing themselves and the truth about those bullying behaviors.
Even though the behaviors are similar to the people who cannot face themselves (victim blaming, people pleasing, rejection, avoidance, etc.), people who cannot see the truth about others also blind to themselves. The main reason for them to have the blind spot about others is because they cannot face themselves. It is not about upholding a certain image of oneself but also to avoid facing the truth about themselves.
This group of people is unable to see how others control and dictates their lives because they are fearful to face their self. They are not only facing the fear of themselves but also experienced a tremendous amount of anger and hurt. Justin was hurt and harmed by the violence in his family. His mother’s inability to protect him and substance abuse also subjected him to believe that he is not lovable, not accepted, and not loved. He is full of anger and hurt and Bryce and his family validated and approved his needs. In order not face his true feelings (hurt, anger, and rejection) and his real self (unloved and unworthy), he turned to Bryce and his family, and his friends who make him not feeling this way.
Jessica’s military family background has shut her down from her feelings. Her family, especially her father, makes her believe that she can only be the perfect girl who behaves perfectly. To avoid seeing her imperfection, her fear, her anger, and her hurt, she turned to alcohol and promiscuous behaviors.
The other character who also belongs to this group is Tyler. Most of the people might think Tyler being a peeping Tom who behaves indecently. However, as the drama goes on, I realize that Tyler is like Jessica and Justin who cannot face himself. Tyler is a sensitive boy, and it seems that he got bullied quite often by his classmates. He hides behind the camera to see others and to avoid to be seen. He liked Hannah but was unable to share his feelings directly to Hannah, and when he was rejected by Hannah, he revenged by releasing Hannah’s photo that destroyed her reputation. What he cannot face is his sensitivity and rejection by others.
So, to see the truth about other people, we have to be able to face the truth about ourselves. When we are able to face what we don’t want to see in the other people, we are also able to face the part of ourselves where we want to deny.
If I have learned something about being a therapist, that is: no one is perfect, and there is no therapist or a friend can be your savior. You have to be your savior no matter what happened. I tell my clients all the time: “If I am not a good match for you as a therapist, by all means, please fire me and go find someone else. At the end of the day, your life is much more important than my feelings.”
Please remember: “YOU ARE IMPORTANT” and don’t let anyone decide whether you are going to seek help or not. If you are in a difficult spot in your life right now, please continue to seek help no matter how many people you have to talk to find that person who can help you.
Here is the link to the original novel of “13 reasons why”
Here is the link to the Netflix drama of “13 reasons why”
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network hotline 800-656-4673
National Suicide Prevention Hotline hotline 1-800-273-8255
13 Reasons Why series articles