Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Victims’ decisions on their own justice should be respected

Viewers of ‘Baby Reindeer’ should not be hunting for the real ‘Martha’
Victims decisions on their own justice should be respected
via IMBd

Netflix’s newest show “Baby Reindeer” has gained significant popularity across the world, skyrocketing to Netflix’s top 10 in numerous countries including the United States and United Kingdom. The show follows Richard Gadd as he stars in his own chronicle of his experience with a female stalker named “Martha,” and the way it forces him to confront his dark trauma.

The show received deserved praise for providing representation for male sexual abuse victims and how it affects masculinity. However, not all of the attention has been geared towards the positive message or survivor story, but also towards some justice the viewers expect. Fans of the show have been trying to expose the real stalker and abuser in the story.

Gadd took great care in hiding the identities of both his stalker and abuser, intent on focusing on the piece as not an act of revenge but an act of healing. Yet people were quick to investigate, exposing the real life “Martha” in a now deleted reddit post. Many people in the comments condemned the post, yet the doxxing was quick to spread across the internet in places like X and other news outlets.

Not only did they go for Martha, but viewers also tried to track down Gadd’s past abuser, wrongly naming Tony Award-winning Sean Foley as the abuser. These accusations have deep effects on people’s lives, resulting in death threats towards these speculated perpetrators without any real evidence that these are the actual abusers.

Most of all, these accusations are far from what creator Gadd desires to come from his show. He asked his fans to not “speculate on who any of the real-life people could be. That’s not the point of our show.”

Yet people find themselves obsessed with “justice” within these scenarios, bringing up problems that go over victims’ decisions. Some feel a weird need sometimes to punish others’ abusers without considering what the victim might want or need. It does little to solve the damage victims like Gadd have faced and brings up larger issues like false accusations and threats that victims shouldn’t have to deal with.

One of the biggest problems that comes from instances like “Baby Reindeer” is confirming that the supposed perpetrator is the abuser. Without confirmation from the victim, any speculation about the abuser is not definitive, even if all the facts line up.

Sean Foley was a man accused of being the groomer of Gadd, but in reality was not involved in the crime. Gadd went out to say, “People I love, have worked with, and admire (including Sean Foley) are unfairly getting caught up in speculation.” All of what is being said is merely speculation and is instead bringing threats to innocent people.

Foley had accusations and threats spewed at him across social media, with some threatening his life and career in the process. The ramifications were so bad that he ended up making a police report against the accusations calling them defamatory statements. The police are currently investigating these accounts and are making sure that there is no immediate threat to his safety.

The speculation over Gadd’s abuser does little to provide him with any justice, nor does it help any victim. Instead, he is forced to insistently address a justice-hungry audience that believes their making accusations online are the right thing to do.

The accusations get worse when it comes to his stalker, a woman renamed “Martha” in the Netflix series to hide her identity. The public’s doxxing of her goes against everything Gadd has expressed and brings bigger issues onto the table for her mental health. In a Today article, psychologist Avigail Lev broke down “Baby Reindeer” and Martha’s frightening behavior. Lev suggested she may be suffering from untreated mental illness. Her impulsive actions and inability to control her emotions show signs of borderline personality disorder, meaning that she is in need of help herself.

Exposing the real Martha does little to help the situation, especially as the TV show details her being charged with stalking and receiving a restraining order. Justice for the most part has been served and satisfies the victim, so why do we feel the need to expose her?

Ultimately, people’s insatiable desire for misguided justice denies the victim their own decision and desire over their trauma. It should be Gadd’s choice whether he wants to expose the names or pursue legal action against them, because it was his traumatic experience and a crime committed against him.

It is not our responsibility nor our right to seek justice that is not wanted or even needed. Stories like Richard Gadd’s should not result in a witch hunt for his stalker and abuser, but sympathy and love towards victims. Whether it is to seek justice through exposing their abusers, fighting them in court or finding their own path to healing, victims should be the ones to make that choice.

Lily Fitzgerald can be reached at [email protected]

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