The Best Reactions to the ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 15 Episode About Sexual Assault

On March 28, 2019, Grey’s Anatomy aired a very special episode. In it, Dr. Josephine Karev, formerly Jo Wilson, goes to meet her birth mother and learns a lot about her past. This is done in parallel with a storyline about a patient who undergoes a traumatic experience involving sexual assault. Here’s what you need to know about the episode, as well as some of the best reactions to it.

Here’s what happens with Jo’s mom

Camilla Luddington as Jo Karev and Michelle Forbes as Vicki Ann Rudin on Grey's Anatomy
Camilla Luddington as Jo Karev and Michelle Forbes as Vicki Ann Rudin on Grey’s Anatomy| Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images

Jo, who grew up as Brooke but changed her name after she left her abusive ex-husband, had a rough life. She grew up in foster care and eventually struck out on her own as a teen, living in her car. In this episode, Jo tracks down her birth mother in order to learn why she was given up — and she’s shocked at what she finds.

Jo’s mother, Vicki, is living a great life — she has a job, a husband, two kids, a dog, and a beautiful house. Jo assumes that her mom gave her up because she was too poor and young to take care of her, but there’s more to the story than that. In reality, Vicki was raped by a man she went on a date with her freshman year of college, and it was difficult for her to imagine raising her rapist’s baby, despite loving her very much. Additionally, Jo learns that the man died in an accident years prior to their meeting.

Jo takes charge with a patient who has been assaulted

Jo with her patient, Abby, on Grey's Anatomy
Jo with her patient, Abby, on Grey’s Anatomy | Mitch Haaseth/ABC via Getty Images

When she comes back from meeting her mom, Jo isn’t ready to talk to her husband, Alex Karev, or anyone else about what happened. But she finds herself on the case of a patient, Abby, who she quickly recognizes has been assaulted. Over the course of the day, Jo, with some help from Dr. Teddy Altman, encourages Abby to open up about what happened to her and guides her through the process of getting a rape kit and reporting the rape.

The episode handles things beautifully. There’s talk about taking back your agency after an assault, what Teddy saw among assault victims in the army (men and women), the steps involved with the rape kit and what can be done after, the roles alcohol and clothing play in the blame placed on women, and much more. One incredibly moving scene shows the female hospital personnel lining the halls as Abby is taken to surgery, because she is reminded of her rapist when she sees the face of strange men.

Audiences were moved by the episode

This episode resonated with viewers in a very unique way. The scene in which the women line the walls was among the most powerful. According to Shondaland (the production company behind the show), many of those women were not actors but women who work behind-the-scenes on Grey’s Anatomy or other Shondaland productions, who asked to be a part of this incredible moment.

As one Twitter user pointed out, Jo was there for Abby from beginning to end. There were several shots focused on her holding her patient’s hand — this was clearly very deliberate as a way to show her as Abby’s only comfort in this difficult time.

Many actors appear on Grey’s for just one or two episodes as a patient, and though they are often very important to the storyline, they’re not always recognized. But the actress who portrayed Abby, Khalilah Joi, got quite a few shoutouts for her amazing performance. The episode was also notably written and directed by women.

Given that women were at the helm, it’s not surprising that this episode was told exclusively from the perspective of the victims. As Twitter user Meghan Stolp pointed out, this is rarely seen in the media, and is a practice that should be employed moving forward.

Along with Jo meeting her mom and Abby’s case, there was a C-story revolving around consent. Dr. Bailey and her husband, Ben, learn that her son, Tucker, has his first girlfriend. Ben has a conversation with his stepson in which they discuss a lot more than just “no means no,” and actor Jason Winston George expressed how happy he was to be involved in the important episode.

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