Over the past week, I’ve watched the 8-part Netflix series, Unbelievable. It’s a truly harrowing account of a serial rapist, and how one of his victims was not only disbelieved, but pressured by the police to recant her story — something to keep in mind when people try to argue that women lie and make false accusations. After seeing it, I learned that it’s based on a true story, and is remarkably faithful to that account, and has been validated by the victim, Marie. If you read that, you can skip the show, and you’ll just miss some excellent performances.

There is one thing in the written account that I didn’t see in the series.

Marie left the state, got a commercial driver’s license and took a job as a long-haul trucker. She married, and in October she and her husband had their second child. She asked that her current location not be disclosed.

Good. If you read her story or watch the series, though, I warn you: the happy ending does not salvage the horrible process.


  1. says

    I read about this several years back. I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch the earlier episodes when the young lady was being crapped on.
    I really wanted to see more people eating crow at the end.

  2. says

    It sucks, because this woman is still used in some circles as a “false rape accusation” bugaboo. Yet she very clearly isn’t.

    Part of this story reminds me of EEB. Remember her? In a comment on Jason Thibeault’s blog that Stephanie Zvan elevated to a blog post of its own?

    This is yet another reason I err on the side of believing victims. Even the supposed statistic that says that 5% of rape accusations are probably false is probably inflated… possibly wildly inflated.

  3. says

    Even if 5% is correct, that means that only one of Trump’s accusers was lying,
    and people voted for him anyway. There are times when I find the human race to be utterly disgusting.

  4. blf says

    Millions of US women say first sexual experience was rape:

    New study finds one in 16 women says first sexual experience was forced or coerced in early teens

    The first sexual experience for one in 16 US women was forced or coerced intercourse in their early teens, encounters that for some may have had lasting health repercussions, a new study suggests.

    The experiences amount to rape, the authors say, although they relied on a national survey that didn’t use the word in asking women about forced sex.

    Almost seven percent of women surveyed said their first sexual intercourse experience was involuntary; it happened at age 15 on average and the man was often several years older.

    Nearly half of those women who said intercourse was involuntary said they were held down and slightly more than half of them said they were verbally pressured to have sex against their will.

    “Any sexual encounter (with penetration) that occurs against somebody’s will is rape. If somebody is verbally pressured into having sex, it’s just as much rape,” said lead author Dr Laura Hawks, an internist and Harvard Medical School researcher.


    The new study is an analysis of responses from 13,310 adult women who participated in nationally representative United States government health surveys from 2011–2017, before the popularisation of the “Me Too” movement, which demands governments, industries and communities address sexual abuse and harassment.


    According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one in five women have been raped in their lifetimes. For almost half of those women, it happened when they were younger than 18.


    Sex education specialist Dan Rice said inadequate sex education in US schools contributes to the problem.

    “Our culture teaches people not to be raped instead of teaching people not to rape,” he said.


    Sarah Emily Baum […] a staff writer for Sex, Etc, said the study results ring true.

    “Almost everyone has a story or a close call like this one or knows someone with a story or close call,” said Baum, a sophomore at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.

    Baum recalls that a police officer invited to discuss sexual consent and assault at her high school focused only on girls, telling them, “‘You’ve got to make sure you say ‘no’ and say it loud enough for people to hear.'” There was little mention of boys’ responsibility, and no discussion of same-sex assaults or even girls being the aggressors, said Baum, who is gay.

    “If I go on a date with another girl, I also have to make sure there is clear consent and clear boundaries,” she said. “It goes both ways.”

  5. auraboy says

    Strange. I’m convinced I read the original story through Pharyngula. Maybe it was a link in the comments to something else. As soon as I started the Netflix show I recalled the long form journalism story.
    It’s well made – not adding much for dramatic effect or twisting timelines to hit typical story beats. Doesn’t make you feel much better that if it wasn’t for the mass coincidence of two female detectives joining the dots this would have never been solved and multiple lives ruined with disbelief.
    I didn’t know the coda to the young lady’s story but that’s a ray of happiness to something utterly depressing.

  6. leerudolph says

    If you read that, you can skip the show, and you’ll just miss some excellent performances.

    Depending on who one is, one will also (I have very good reason to believe) miss some powerful triggers, for which excellent performances might not be a trade one need be willing to take.

  7. hillaryrettig says

    Great story, writing, acting. Some gratuitous blather about the power of prayer at the end, which was a drag.

  8. says

    At the very least everyone should have to watch the first episode. That’s the kind of justice many victims wind up receiving. I thought about not watching more than the first episode because it felt essentially perfect- just the cold brutal reality of our culture. I was afraid the rest of the series would be far too hopeful and full of Hollywood-style police tropes. I’m 3 episodes in now and am not too disappointed.

  9. susans says

    @margecullen, when dealing with the consequences of rape, this country is hardly unique with women being treated like crap. Where do you think we are treated fairly?

  10. John Morales says

    susans to margecullen: “Where do you think we are treated fairly?”

    Whatever makes you imagine margecullen anywhere claimed or implied that such a place exists?

    (Try again, perhaps_)