Jane's Slow Healing Process On 'Big Little Lies' Is Painfully Accurate

Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBO
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In one of show's best scenes yet, Jane told Madeline about her rape on Big Little Lies in last week's episode. The moment was especially powerful because she'd hadn't told a soul about her trauma for well over six years — so, the fact that Jane finally told her story to a friend marked an important turning point for her character. The pair revisited the topic in the March 12 episode "Push Comes to Shove" and Jane told Madeline that she started to feel different after saying the words aloud.

"Ever since I told you about Ziggy's dad, this thing is happening to my body... like it's wanting to wake up or something," she said. Jane expressed that, like so many other rape survivors, her attempt to pretend the attack meant nothing "made it mean everything." And, the weight of the secret was crushing her and allowed her attacker to retain control over Jane. "I had to say those stupid words that he said out loud to me, to you, for them to lose their power," she explained. Ever since then, she began looking at men again — in a way that she describes not as sexual but as "appreciative" and "sensual."

Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBO

Of course, this is a realistic depiction of PTSD and one conversation certainly didn't "cure" or "heal" Jane — although it's a good sign that her body is starting to wake up, she tells Madeline that her mind inevitably goes back to that terrible night pretty quickly. Her attacker's words have lost some of their power, but recovering from PTSD is a long, painful, and complicated process — and Jane would probably benefit from talking with a professional in addition to her best friend. Even Madeline admits that she doesn't always know the right thing to say, which is totally normal for a friend who desperately wants to help but doesn't have firsthand knowledge or expertise about sexual assault.

By the end of the episode, it's clear that Jane's in a bad place — she's trying to track down her rapist, who apparently gave her a fake name, and she appears visibly distressed and angry when she's in the privacy of her own home. Jane keeps a gun under her pillow, presumably in an effort to feel safe, and her comment about "killing [my rapist] if I could" was played off as a joke — but given her fragile state, I'm beginning to wonder if the death in question involves Jane's rape. I'd be shocked if she deliberately murdered her attacker, but her symptoms include out of body experiences and hallucinations — so I wouldn't rule out the possibility of an accidental shooting.

The reason Big Little Lies' depiction of PTSD is so realistic is because showrunners don't shy away from showing the shame, helplessness, and despair that accompany the illness — and Jane's relentless flashbacks are an accurate depiction of the disorder's intensity. But, I'm glad the small victories are getting screentime as well because they are equally realistic and important. I hope we get to see Jane take many more steps in the healing process before Big Little Lies concludes and leaves a gaping hole in my Sunday evenings.