Since the series debuted in 1999, "Law & Order: SVU" fans have rallied behind the exploits of protagonist Captain Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay). As the Commanding Officer of the NYPD's Special Victims Unit, the character has devoted her career to preventing and punishing cases of sexual assault and rape. And over the years, her repeated successes in tracking down sex offenders have made her a veritable hero, especially to fans.
Throughout "Law & Order: SVU," Benson's vendetta against sex offenders runs so deep that it often leads her to side with victims regardless of the evidence (often rightfully so). In cases where she interrogates suspects, Benson is hardly ever shy about sending a few violent threats their way. This heavy disdain is rooted in Benson's own history as the victim of Burton Lowe (Aidan Quinn), who groomed and assaulted Benson when she was just a teen.
However, after Season 23, Episode 21, fans have become somewhat outraged with Benson over one particular decision involving Lowe. After reconnecting with Lowe, who attempts to turn a new leaf, the typically rapist-hating Benson decided to defend her own abuser instead of his victims.
In many fans' eyes, Olivia Benson would never defend a rapist under any circumstances. But while it is true that her history with Burton Lowe is complex, and touches on many conflicting feelings and bad memories, Benson would never go so far as to defend the man who abused her. Even more unbelievable is that she would tell Lowe that she loved him before warning him that another one of his victims is accusing him. However, Season 23, Episode 21 saw Benson do all of those things, and fans on Twitter aren't happy.
"Where is my 'I'd like your balls in a blender,' my 'I would like to see you castrated with a rusty steak knife,' my 'you're my b**** now,' Olivia Benson. Cause besties this ain't her," wrote Twitter user @blnkyrlghts99, referencing some of the threats Benson has lobbed at sex offenders.
Another fan named @livebecketts wrote, "A woman tells Olivia Benson she was raped and wants Burton in prison and Olivia Benson, legendary champion of survivors, goes and gives the rapist a heads up. What the f***."
Compared to the strong-spirited Benson of the past, it's true that these decisions can seem out of character for her, even after accounting for her complicated past with Lowe. However, Benson and Lowe's story isn't completely over yet, and upcoming episodes of "Law & Order: SVU" may show a different turn of events.
If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).