Part I—The Assault
There she was, sitting at her desk…with his gun. What the heck was I thinking, leaving her alone like this? he asked himself.
    “Liv. Liv what are you doing?” A huge pit opened up in his stomach, while each hair on his head stood at attention. She raised the gun to her head.
****
    Just one month ago, Olivia Benson had a regular life--as regular as it could be for a detective who investigated rape cases. While other cops in her department came and went, burning out due to the egregious nature of the horrendous crimes they witnessed day in and day out, she and a handful of other good detectives managed to hold it together despite the stress of the job. But that all changed after Sealview.
    Olivia knew the dangers she was facing when she went undercover as a prisoner there, but still decided to take on the task of finding Ashley’s rapist. But she got trapped in the basement by a prison guard, and she would never be the same. Despite her strength and fighting skills, the guard was stronger than she was. She had gotten away briefly, but he had hunted her down like an animal, and then he had put the handcuffs back on her so she had no way to escape. When he finally worked his way past her kicking legs, which brought him some bruises he was sure to feel later, he in no way spared her any brutality.
    At first she begged, “No please, no please,” and then her desperate cries turned to screams for help as he raped her so hard that she felt like she was being ripped open from the inside.
    Olivia was still protesting verbally, but then it was as if she was no longer there. She was somewhere else, far away, crying and waiting for the ordeal to be over. When Fin finally found them there, together, she didn’t even notice the violent beating Fin gave the officer after he pulled the wretched man off her. She rolled on her side and laid there, still lost in another place and time.
    Elliot Stabler had finally convinced the prison warden to allow him inside the place, and he rushed down to where Fin said he had found Olivia. Fin indicated nothing in his call except, “Elliot, Olivia’s in serious trouble.” Passing Fin and the prison guard, the rancid smell of the basement made him gag, and he felt himself tensing up when he saw the stained mattress where Olivia lay, still motionless. Torn between beating the guard to death and being there for Olivia, he chose the latter and rushed to her. At first he couldn’t tell where the blood was coming from, but soon he saw that it was pooled around her waist, and he knew. He took off his coat and threw it over her half-naked body, partly out of modesty for her but also because he didn’t want be reminded of what had just happened.
    Gently, he said, “Liv…Liv,” while reaching to touch her shoulder. She had a wild look in her eyes, and he could tell she was not all there.
    “Don’t touch me!” she screamed, and before he could react she was kicking out her feet at him, her hands still in handcuffs.
    “Hey…hey, it’s me, Liv…it’s me—Elliot.” He saw the recognition start to reappear in her eyes, and then he saw the fear mixed with sweat and tears.
    Her voice softened. “I’m cold, El.” Her next words came out hoarse as an after-effect of the screaming, “My hands.” He reached down and unlocked the handcuffs, and wrapped his arms around her. He could feel her body shuddering against his with an adrenaline release of rapid breathing.
    “Let’s get you out of here. Hang in there, Liv,” he said.
******
    Olivia didn’t remember much about the hospital visit. The only part that stood out in her mind was the Novocain shot the doctor gave her before stitching her up and working on the rape kit. They almost had to restrain her, because the last thing she wanted was to feel more hands touching her, and the pain that came with it. But with Elliot there holding her hand the entire time, she was able to get through it, and escape once again into dissociation. She felt like her body did not exist. There was a constant flurry of activity around her, but it was as if time stood still for her. Most of the time she drifted off into some vague realm where all she felt was the buzz of the pain medications they had given her.
    And then, after everything had died down, Elliot came into her room again with a soft expression on his face. “Liv, I am so sorry, but you know I have to do this. You don’t have to answer this right now, and I can get someone else to ask you these questions if you want, but I have to ask…”
    She knew what was coming.
    Gently, he said, “…what happened in the basement?”
    She hesitated. Quickly he said, “Do you want to wait until later? I can get someone else, you don’t have to…”
    In a soft voice, she interrupted, “No, I’m ready.”
    She took a deep breath, and then another. “I, um…he told me he was taking me to lockdown, but I knew that wasn’t where we were heading. I should have fought him then…I should have outed myself at least…”
    “Liv, no, don’t do that to yourself. You know that it wasn’t your fault.”
    “I know.” Another deep breath. “He had me against the wall, and I was screaming, but I knew nobody could hear me. He took the cuffs off and I got in a couple of good shots and managed to run away, but there was no place to go.” Her eyes shot away while she recalled the events. “When he found me, he hit me good with his baton, and it took my breath away, and next thing I knew I was on the bed and the cuffs were on again, and then there was nothing I could do.” She started crying now. Elliot picked up her hand and held it in both of his and wished he didn’t have to hear this. Her other hand rose to cover her mouth. “I felt so powerless. And then he started…raping me and I screamed because it hurt so bad…I was so scared and his body was so heavy on me that I felt like I couldn’t breathe.”
    “He raped you…vaginally?”
    She whispered, “Both.” Her face contorted into tears, and then she regained her composure. “I don’t know how long it lasted, but it felt like forever, and then I guess Fin was there, although I barely remember.”
    “Ok, Liv, good job. I am so sorry, I should have never let you go in there.”
    “You know you wouldn’t have been able to stop me, El.”
    “I know.” And then, almost as an afterthought, he said, “Liv?”
    “Yeah?”
    “They said they are going to keep you here for a couple of days to recover, but then where are you going to go?”
    She shot a questioning look at him and said, “Home?”
    “But you’ll be all alone! Why don’t you stay with me for a little while?”
    “I don’t think I would get much peace with all the Stabler clan running around, no offense Elliot.”
    Elliot and Kathy had just finalized their divorce, but Elliot still had frequent visitation with his kids, and they stayed overnight a couple nights a week.
    “Well, why don’t I come stay at your place for a little while then? Even if it’s just for a few days. I’ll see the kids a little less often for a few days, but they’ll be fine.”
    To his surprise, she said, “Thanks Elliot, I’ll think about it.”
Part II—The Breakdown
    The first few weeks after Olivia went home were rough for both of them. Elliot stayed at her house for a couple of days, sleeping on her couch and taking care of her when she was awake. She was taking lots of painkillers, so she slept most of the time. Then she kicked him out on the third day.
    “Are you sure you’re okay? I hate to leave you here…” he said.
    “I’m fine, Elliot. I appreciate it, really, but I can take care of myself now.” Her face was resolute.
    That night, Elliot awoke to the sound of his cell phone at 3 a.m. Liv’s voice came from the other end, in a whisper, “Elliot, I think there’s someone in my house.”
    He didn’t need to hear any more. “I’m on my way right now.”
    When he got there, though, the front door was locked. He took out his spare key and opened the door with gun drawn. Without a sound, he used stealth to move through the dark apartment, but he didn’t hear or see anyone. He approached her bedroom, and sliding through the bedroom door, quickly raised his gun. “Olivia?”
    Before he could assess the situation with his eyes, he heard the sound of a gun being cocked. And there she was, cowering behind her bed—eyes wide and gun pointed at him. “Olivia don’t!”
    Realizing for the first time that it was him, she put the gun down and breathed like she had never tasted air before. “I’m sorry Elliot. I thought…”
    “It’s okay, I checked the apartment and I didn’t see anyone. Your door is still locked. You wanna go look around with the lights on?”
    She nodded, her eyes still dancing from the adrenaline. “Yeah…yeah.”
*****
    After that night, Elliot insisted on staying over at her apartment at night, and she didn’t give him much resistance. He was secretly afraid she might spook and pull a Rambo in the middle of the night on some poor unsuspecting neighbor. During the day he went to work, and at night he came back to her place and kept her company until she went to bed. He didn’t want to admit it to her or anyone else, but he felt a twinge of excitement at being able to spend so much time with her. He looked forward to it, even though she wasn’t the best of company.
    He could tell she wasn’t herself. By the end of the second week, she had physically recovered, and yet she hadn’t tried to go back to work. She didn’t ask about the office and didn’t seem to want to hear the details of the cases he was working on. And she never smiled—not a real smile anyway.
    One morning she started acting like a scorned housewife—irritable and nagging. It all started when he said he had to work late again.
    “Well that’s fine.” Her tone was sarcastic. “Take all the time you need.”
    “Hey, listen, I’m sorry, Liv, but we’re working on that new case I told you about, and I need to sort through all those phone records we got. But I’ll bring Chinese when I come home.” He couldn’t believe how groveling he sounded.
    She snapped back. “I said it’s fine. Just go do your thing!”
    “Hey, I don’t deserve to be talked to that way. I’m just doing my job. You know how it is.”
    “I know how it was, Elliot. But I would think you’d change your priorities a little right now.”
    He couldn’t believe it. This was nothing like the Olivia he knew—clingy and demanding instead of independent and withdrawn. “Now you sound like Kathy.” The look of shocked indignation on her face was abrupt, but it only fueled his anger. “I’m doing the best I can! You of all people should know that.”
    After a pause, she said, “Well if you don’t care enough to sacrifice your work a little when I need you the most, just don’t come back. Maybe it was a mistake letting you stay here.”
    “Fine! I don’t need this! You just take care of yourself, like you always do.”
    Elliot never expected the glass of orange juice in her hand to come hurling towards his head. He ducked just in time.
    “Oh my God!” he said. “This is insane! I’m outta here!” And with that, he stormed out the door and slammed it so hard that it rattled the entire apartment.
    Olivia sat there in the silence for a short time. This moment was all too familiar—he was walking away after she drove him off…again. She broke down in tears for what felt like the millionth time. She was so tired of crying…so tired of everything. Just being awake was painful. She hadn’t wanted to get angry with him, she had just wanted to describe to him how hard it was to be alive right now, but there were no words that could convey the deepness of her pain.
    Since the attack, she had had horrible nightmares where she relived the experience all over again. Many times, Elliot would come rushing into her room in the middle of the night to the sound of her screams, only to find her still asleep and thrashing around on the bed.
    She had tried to see a counselor, who had put her on anti-anxiety meds and anti-depressants and no telling what other anti- drugs, but none of it helped. The counselor told her there was nothing that could be done about the dreams, that she would just have to wait and heal and eventually they would go away. That was no consolation to Olivia.
    Not wanting to shed one more tear, Olivia went to her freezer and pulled out a bottle of Tequila that had been sitting there for years, untouched.
*****
    All day, Elliot was brooding. At first he was angry, and then he alternated between remorse and self-righteous hurt. But by the end of the day, he was filled with pure guilt, and he wanted to make it up to Olivia. He knew she was having a hard time coping, even though she would never tell him that, and that she was acting out in a way she normally wouldn’t.
    So he found a way to pass his work off to the others, and he came back to her apartment just after dark with Chinese food in one hand and a little bracelet he had seen in a store window in the other. But he was getting a weird vibe as soon as he approached her door.
    Out of respect, he knocked instead of using the key. When he got no response after repeated attempts, he was tempted to just leave, but instead he called her. No response. He was torn between respecting her privacy and feeling concerned, but his increasing sense that something was not right got the best of him, and he pulled out the key.
    As soon as he entered the apartment, he saw her on the couch, lying there asleep. As he approached her, though, he caught a glimpse of the empty liquor bottle on the table, and next to it, her bottle of pain medications. “Liv…” His voice rose in anticipation. “Liv!”
    Crouching down next to her, he shook her, and when she didn’t rouse immediately, he said, “Oh my God, what did you do.” But as he put his hand up to her neck to check for a pulse, she started to stir and said, words slurred, “Elliot? What are you doing here? I thought you had to work late.”
    At that moment he didn’t care about anything else but hugging her. To her apparent surprise, he did so, and then he asked, “How many of these did you take, Olivia? Do I need to take you to the hospital?”
    “No no no, El, it’s okay. I don’t know, I’ve only taken like…maybe six.” And then she was thinking. “Or eight. I don’t remember.”
    “Whoa, Olivia—that’s way too many, especially mixed with liquor.”
    He checked her vital signs, and although her pulse was racing, she seemed to be okay otherwise. He made her stay awake. He debated calling the hospital to see whether he needed to bring her in, but decided that she was probably telling the truth about the amount she had taken, and watched her closely instead.
    She was like a zombie most of that day, and went to sleep without any nightmares that night. The next morning, he came to her bedside and woke her.
    “Olivia, wake up, can we talk please?”
    It took her a minute to become fully conscious, but when she did, she sat up in the bed. He sat next to her.
    “Olivia, I’m really worried.” He looked at her tired face. She stared down at her hands. He continued. “You seem really depressed. I’m afraid you’re going to do something to…hurt yourself. I almost took you to the hospital last night. It could have been serious.”
    There was no answer from her. He sucked in his breath so that he could say the most difficult words he had ever said to her. “Liv, when I saw you, I thought you were…gone. I was so scared Liv. It made me realize that…I really care about you, and…and I don’t want to lose you.” He saw one tear start to roll down her cheek, and she finally glanced up at him. He felt like there was nothing to lose at this point. “I love you Olivia.”
    At this, she threw her arms around his neck, and it was the greatest feeling in the world. I’ve been waiting so long for this, he thought, why did we wait so long?
    But after a few seconds, he pulled back a little so he could talk to her again. “Please, Olivia, I don’t want to lose you. I promise I will ask Captain Cragen for time off to stay with you all the time, if you will promise to try your hardest to get better.”
    She was nodding now as the tears flowed freely. He continued, “Will you get help?” She nodded. “Will you try to get off the pills?”
    “Yes,” she said. Her eyes glanced nervously at his. “I am just having such a hard time with the, the nightmares and all, and I can’t stop shaking sometimes.”
    He had noticed this, but hadn’t said anything. She was such a strong person, the last thing he wanted was to make her feel more vulnerable. “Well maybe we can see if we can change your medications, and if it’s all right, I’ll keep track of them and give them to you, okay?”
    “Yes,” she said, and then she hugged him again.
*****
    At first, they both felt a little elated that their feelings for one another were out in the open. She allowed him to sit with his arm around her on the couch, and she enjoyed the feeling of their bodies pressed close together. And one day, she looked at him, and he noticed something different in her eyes, a sparkle perhaps. He took advantage of that moment and leaned over to kiss her. Their lips pressed together for the first time, and it was magical.
    But all the love he felt for her couldn’t erase the scars of one night of violence. He could tell Olivia was getting bored sitting around the apartment, but going out was not an option either. It made her jittery. She barely slept after giving up the pain pills, not wanting to experience the nightmares that came frequently.
One night he witnessed first-hand the fear she relived every night. He awoke to the sound of terrified protests, but she was still asleep. “No please. No please.” It was as if she was there all over again. He tried to wake her by touching her shoulder, but as soon as he did she was screaming, “Nooooo! Help! Please!” Her cries were accompanied by panicked movements of her limbs to fight off her non-existent assailant.
    Feeling helpless, Elliot raised his voice to say, “Olivia, wake up! It’s me! Wake up!” It took several seconds for her to join the waking world, and when she did, she was wide-eyed and casing the room for danger. Then she saw him, really saw him for the first time, and pushed into his body real close so that he could comfort her. Once again, she was sobbing, and he never felt so sorry for her as he did at that moment.
    When she recovered enough to speak, she said, “I can’t take this Elliot. I don’t know what to do! I am trying so hard to get over this, but I can’t even sleep in peace.”
    “I’m sorry, Olivia. Hey, maybe you could talk to Huang, he might be able to help.”
    “Okay,” she said quietly.
    “I’ll call him in the morning,” he said.
******
    The next day, Elliot checked the fridge and discovered they had nothing to eat. His mouth moist at the thought of eggs and bacon, he said, “Olivia, I’m going to the store to stock up, is there anything you want?”
    “No thanks,” she said from the couch. She wasn’t lost in a novel like she usually was, or watching some stupid movie on Netflix, but instead she was staring out the window at some unknown object. Storm clouds were beginning to close in.
    “You okay?” he asked.
    “Yeah.”
    When Elliot got home from shopping a couple of hours later, she wasn’t sitting on the couch anymore. Hearing nothing but a clap of thunder, he figured she was napping, and quietly put away the groceries. When he finished, he went in the bedroom to check on her, and saw that the bed was empty. The shower didn’t sound like it was running either. “Olivia?” he asked, with hesitation in his voice.
    Then he saw her, at her desk, his service revolver gripped tightly in her hand. “Liv?” he asked. Her eyes got big, as if she wasn’t expecting to see him standing there.
    That’s when the reality of what was happening struck him. “Liv…Liv.” She raised the gun to her head.
    “You weren’t supposed to see this, El. I’m sorry.” She cocked the hammer.
    Panic rose in Elliot, and he moved towards her as if he was on fire. “No no no no no no no!” he said, and all he could see was his own hand moving towards hers to push the gun away. The sound of the gun exploding rang through his ears, and there were a few seconds where everything stopped, as if time no longer existed. He was on top of her on the floor, although he couldn’t quite remember how they got in that position. He was scared to look down, but he knew he had to. The silence deafened his ringing ears. But there was no blood, no indescribably horrible scene to witness. Only Liv, alive, gone limp in his arms. “Oh my God. Oh my God, Liv!” he said.
    He scooped her up and laid her on the bed like a rag doll. His shaking fingers carefully inspected her head for wounds, but there were none. She was not unconscious, just uninterested in being a part of the living world at this moment. He stroked her hair for a second, and then, as if she was fighting him to get at the gun, he left her side for a moment and hurriedly picked it up, removing the bullets and placing them and the gun as far apart as he could. Then he took his phone from his pocket and, not wanting to leave her side, sat down next to her and rested his hand on her motionless arm while he called Captain Cragen.
    “Captain, we have a serious problem here,” he said, panic in his voice. All Olivia heard was silence in between the frantic words Elliot spoke to the Captain.
    “No, Olivia tried to kill herself.” Silence.
    “Real close. I got to the gun just in time.” Silence. “Yeah she’s alright from what I can tell.”
    “No, I don’t want to call them, can we just keep it in-house right now?” Silence.
    “I know, I know. Well what if I…I mean, if I take her down there voluntarily, would you make sure nobody else knows about this?” Silence.
    “Okay, that’s what we’ll do. I’ll call you later.”
    After hanging up, Elliot looked down at Olivia. Her eyes were open, but they were hollow. He wondered if she would even speak to him right now. “Liv, the Captain says he won’t make me file a police report, but I have to take you in to the psych ward for a 72-hour hold.”
    With an abruptness that startled him, she said, “No! I don’t want to go!” Her eyes looked towards him finally, and they were pleading.
    “Look,” he said gently, “you tried to…hurt yourself twice in two weeks. You almost killed yourself just now! I have to take you, for your own protection.”
    Now she was crying, as she said, “But I’ll be all alone!” And then a realization came to her. “And I’m going to be put right back into a place just like the one where my rape happened. Please don’t make me do this, Elliot!”
    “I’m sorry Olivia, I really am. But I have no choice. It’s either this, or the Captain will call the police out here and you’ll end up there anyway.”
    She went limp again, while Elliot prepared to take her to the hospital so she could be checked in to the psych ward.
Part III—The Psych Ward
    Day One
Olivia walked out of the pouring rain and into the building willingly as night began to fall, but her stomach tied itself into knots the minute she was through the door. A bland place, devoid of any decorations except for a few cheap flower paintings bolted to the walls, the ward reminded her of another not-so-pleasant place she had been recently—the prison. “I don’t know if I can do this, Elliot.” She started to turn.
    Elliot caught her under the arm with his hand. “Wait, Olivia. We can’t leave now.” She stopped, but didn’t turn around, and he knew he was going to have to use a little persuasion. “Look at me, Liv.” She turned to face him, but continued to look away.
    “I promise, I will come and visit you and stay as long as they will let me, okay?”
    She finally looked at him. “No, El, it’s not enough. I can’t be in here by myself. This place gives me the creeps. If you want me to get better, this is not the place to do it. I can’t stay here.”
    “Okay, okay, how about this? Maybe I can get in touch with Huang, and he can try and get you out a little early.” She didn’t look convinced. “In the meantime, I will have Munch and Fin come and visit you too, so you don’t get lonely. Captain Cragen already said he was going to come over here tonight to see how you’re doing.” Now she looked perturbed, to know that her work-mates would know she was in the loony bin.
“Come on, Olivia, I know you don’t want them to know, but they will understand. And at least you will feel safer.” There was no answer. “And you know the alternative—might as well not fight it.”
    She shook her head, but she started moving towards the check-in counter all the same.
****
    Olivia was given a hospital gown to wear. She was told that she could not wear her own clothing, but she would be allowed to have her own robe brought in. She was not allowed to have any of her own possessions. She was questioned about what happened that night, and was told that she would be there involuntarily for three days, and after that period of time she would be evaluated for dismissal. She would be provided with plenty of counseling to keep her busy, but she already knew that she was going to save her deepest thoughts for someone she trusted—Huang.
    Elliot could only visit for one hour a day, and he would not be allowed into her room. He had to talk to her in a common area where anyone could watch. And worst of all, she would not be allowed to call him. Her room was the typical sterile hospital room, except that everything was bolted down and there was no glass in the mirror. Once her room was ready, she settled in for a long night of attempting to avoid sleep.
    Day Two
    The next day, Elliot went to see Olivia before visiting George Huang. She seemed more anxious than depressed. “El, you gotta get me out of here. This place makes me…jumpy. I had nightmares again last night, and woke up in the dark by myself.” She hesitated, then continued. “And the guards—I don’t like the way they look at me.” Her eyes darted around the room at the two male orderlies who were busy attending to patients.
    “I’m sorry Olivia. I am going straight to Huang’s office after I leave here, and Fin is coming to visit you in a couple of hours, so hang in there, okay?” He couldn’t help thinking she was acting a little paranoid. “Did they change your meds or something?”
    “Yeah, but…why?” She pulled her hands from his when she realized what he was implying. “I’m not making this up, Elliot—it’s not just the meds!” Her brow furrowed in anger.
    “Okay, okay. I’m sorry. I’ll go talk to George.”
****
    In George Huang’s office, Elliot asked, “Can we get her out of there before the 72-hour hold is up?”
    “It would be very difficult, Elliot. I don’t think they would do me any special favors. But I can become her doctor, and that would allow me to evaluate her and make sure she gets out after the three days are up.”
    “She’s acting real skittish. They’ve got her on new meds, but I can’t tell if that’s what’s wrong with her or not.”
    “PTSD can cause a lot of anxiety in a person, Elliot. I will look at her meds when I get her file and see if they need tweaking. I’ll go down and talk to her today.”
****
    Munch and Fin came in turns to visit, and that was a huge comfort to Olivia. Fin talked to her about the nightmares. “Listen,” he said, “I used to have the same problem after I got back from Somalia. I discovered, completely on accident, that if I fell asleep with some relaxing music—not that hip-hop shit, but the old-school love songs and such—it helped with the nightmares.” Olivia was comforted by the care in his voice. She started to relax a little, realizing that she would be talking to Huang soon. Maybe her time here was almost over.
    When Huang arrived, they sat at a plain round plastic table in the middle of the common room. He had a way about him that made her feel at ease opening up about the symptoms she was experiencing and her generalized fear. “Olivia,” he said, after getting all the relevant details, “I’ve read your file, and I’m going to change your meds a little. It might help you. But I can’t get you out of here before the 72 hours is up.”
    Her heart sank, and her hands went cold. “Isn’t there any way? Please, George, you have to get me out of here.”
    “I’m afraid not, Olivia.”
    Her voice started to rise. “But these guards,” she said, leaning in towards him to avoid being overheard, “I don’t trust them.”
    “They’re not guards, Olivia, they’re orderlies. They’re here to help you.”
    Her fist came down hard on the table. “I don’t care! I don’t want to stay here!” One of the orderlies glanced over, and looked ready to jump into action if the need arose.
    “Olivia, calm down. This might just be the safest place for you right now. You did try to kill yourself yesterday, and you almost succeeded!”
    That’s when Huang realized that he wasn’t talking to the usual, rational Olivia, but a woman who was driven by animal-like fear. She stood up quickly and said, “NO! I am NOT staying here!” Her forceful movements caused her chair to fall over backwards. One of the orderlies rushed over to her, and another was on the way. Huang realized he had to act fast.
    “Wait wait,” he indicated to the orderlies. But it was too late. Olivia turned to the one closest to her and yelled, “You get away from me!”
    “You better calm down, little lady!” he replied.
    “What did you call me?! YOU better back the fuck off!” And with this, she shoved him by the shoulder. All hell broke out then.
    The orderly jumped behind her to restrain her, forcing her arms across her chest to keep them from swinging. But he didn’t realize he was up against a trained police officer. Her house-shoe clad foot came down hard on his toes, and he loosened his grip a little due to the pain. Then she threw her head back into his, and he was off her. This allowed her to get an elbow shot to the other orderly’s face, who had just arrived to assist. “Call security!” yelled one of the nurses.
    Huang was trying to interject by yelling to the guards, “You’re just going to make things worse!” But the chaos drowned out his words.
    Olivia heard the nurse say, “We’re going to have to sedate her,” and this made her fight harder. The last thing she wanted was to be even more vulnerable to these creeps who had near-complete control over her. But in the end, she lost. It took three orderlies and a security guard, but they were finally able to get the shot into her, and her body became too weak to fight.
    The last thing she heard was Huang saying to her, “Don’t worry, Olivia, I’ll make sure you’re safe.”
****
    There were four men in Captain Cragen’s office discussing Olivia’s situation—Cragen, Elliot, Fin, and Huang.
    Elliot, ever the one to give Olivia the benefit of the doubt, said, “Is it possible that she’s right, that the guys who work there are a danger to her? Maybe she’s not just paranoid…what if…”
    “Nah,” said Fin. “I know that hospital and I know one of the security guards that works there. I talked to him and he says they run a real tight ship. But he’s working the next couple of days, and I asked him to check in on her every once in a while.”
    “Still,” said Elliot, “There could always be a couple of rogue players in the bunch. I just don’t feel good leaving her there unprotected.”
    “Elliot,” said Cragen, “I’m concerned about Olivia too, but let’s just remember, she’s not in the best mental shape right now. She’s a danger to herself if she’s not there.”
    “He’s right,” confirmed Huang. “I will visit her twice a day and make sure she’s getting the right meds, but I think a lot of this is a reaction to her past traumatic experience. This is reminding her of her prison experience, and it’s causing her a lot of stress, but it’s probably still the best place for her right now.” Elliot was forced to accept the consensus for now—that Olivia had to stay put.
****
    That night, Olivia was still groggy. They had put her on Thorazine, which made her tired all the time. She fell asleep early, and awoke at 3 a.m. to the sound of the first orderly to restrain her earlier, a tall man with dark eyes by the name of Ryan. He was carrying a tray with a small plastic cup with two pills and a glass of water, and he said, “Time for meds.”
    After handing her the glass of water, he turned from her and muttered under his breath, “And then the real fun can start.”
    “What did you just say?!” she demanded. She stood up so that she wouldn’t feel so defenseless.
    “Nothing, take it easy. Just take your meds and I’ll be out of here. “
    “No—I heard you. I’m not taking any pills just so you can have your way with me.”
    “Don’t act so paranoid. You don’t have a choice, Missy.” As he reached his hand out to give her the cup, she knocked it away and the pills tumbled to the floor. This time, he was able to move quickly, knowing what she was capable of, and he restrained her from behind by folding her arms in front of her. “Not this time, Sweetheart.” Then he whispered in her ear, “I’m gonna get you.” With that, he thrust his groin into her backside.
    Just then, a nurse entered the room. She saw Olivia and Ryan’s position from the front, his last move blocked from her view. “What’s going on in here?” she asked.
    Knowing that the nurse thought she was just a crazy patient, Olivia dropped her weight instead of fighting this time. Ryan let go of her and let her slide to the floor. “Nothing,” he replied, “she just got a little physical when I gave her the meds, that’s all.”
    “Okay. Sweetie, you gonna take your meds now?” the nurse said sweetly.
    “Can I skip the Thorazine and just take the Ambien?” asked Olivia.
    “Okay, I’ll put down that you refused one of your meds.” The nurse went to get fresh meds while Ryan combed the floor for the other pills. “All I found was the Ambien,” he said.
    Olivia climbed back into bed, still shaking from the ordeal. I’m going to get that motherfucker if he comes back in, she thought. After he left the room, she quietly slid out of bed and searched in the darkness with her hands until she found the other pill.
    On his way out, Ryan passed another orderly who had restrained Olivia earlier that day, an older man named Jason with white hair and handsome, strong features. “I’m off tomorrow night,” said Ryan. “She’s all yours then.”
    Day Three
    When Elliot came to visit Olivia the next day, she wrapped her arms around him so tight he thought she might never let go. But when they sat down to talk, she reminded him of a caged animal, scanning the room constantly for danger. When she told him what had happened the night before, he stood up and started pacing, keeping an eye out for the asshole who had tried to assault her.
    Then he sat back down and said, “I’m going to get you out of here Liv. Let me see what I can do.”
    “Elliot,” she said, slipping a tiny object into his hand, “I found the pill. I don’t know if he might have been planning on slipping me something a little more powerful than my prescribed meds.”
    He sat with her as long as he could, and then, very reluctantly, stood up to leave. He hugged her again, and had to force himself to pull away, afraid of what might happen to her in this place. “Elliot,” she said, then searched for the right words. “Please get me out of here.” Her eyes betrayed her desperation.
____
    Elliot went straight to Cragen after leaving Liv, but he didn’t like what he heard. “Elliot, you know as well as I do that the most we can do is report it to the ward. And even then, you think they’re going to take the word of a psych patient over a staff member?”
    “A highly decorated detective! Captain, this is a crime scene investigation now, surely that’s grounds to remove her!”
    “Uh, there is no crime scene until we have enough evidence to show probable cause that a crime has been committed. In her mental state, nobody’s going to believe that she heard what she claims she heard, and especially not after the little stunt she pulled the other day.”
    “But we have the pill.”
    “Look, I know you pulled a few favors from Warner, but even so, the earliest we’ll see the test results for that pill is tomorrow. By that time, she’ll be out of there.”
    “Dammit Captain, I’m not going to leave her locked in there! We’ve got to do something!”
    “I’m afraid all we can do right now is make sure that guy isn’t around her—I’ll call the ward myself. Meanwhile, Fin’s buddy is working the overnight tonight. Ask Fin if he can have his friend check on her every half hour.”
    Elliot threw up his hands and said “Fine!” He left the office and went to the locker room to throw some punches at his locker door out of frustration.
****
    Elliot’s nervousness was mixed with excitement as he entered the building to get Olivia the next day. He had just received the results of tests, which came back positive for the rape drug GHB. Olivia had been right all along, the orderly had tried to drug her. He felt a little better knowing that Ryan had not been working that night, and Munch and Fin were on their way to collar the guy right now. The guy would probably only get a misdemeanor neglect charge thrown at him, possibly assault, but at least he was no longer an orderly.
    When Elliot showed up, Olivia gave him the usual warm hug, but there was something different about her. She looked despondent. “Are you okay?” he asked.
    “Yeah, I’m fine,” she said, but she did not look at him.
    “Anything happen last night?”
    After hesitating for slightly too long, she shook her head, “No, nothing.”
****
    It didn’t take Elliot long to figure out that something wasn’t right. When they got to Olivia’s apartment, all she wanted to do was sleep. He never left her alone in her apartment, unless Munch or Fin came to sit with her while he was gone. Most of the few hours she was awake, she wanted to be by herself in her room. When he checked up on her, she was either lying down or staring into space.
    Huang came to visit every day. He knew there was something wrong too, because Olivia never wanted to talk. The conversation was usually about how the meds made her feel, and after that she stonewalled. But he couldn’t force her to talk.
    What worried them both was that she practically stopped eating. Each time Elliot gave her a plate of food, she either said she wasn’t hungry or took a few bites and said she was done. By the third week after her hospital stay, she began to look way too skinny. Elliot and Huang decided to have an intervention-type therapy session, where both of them would talk to her together.
“Olivia,” Huang said to her from across the kitchen table, “Elliot and I are both worried about you. If you keep starving yourself, you’re going to end up sick, and possibly in the hospital.”
    She looked from the wall to her hands, and her gaze rested there. “We were wondering,” he continued, “if something happened in the psych ward that you’re not telling us about.”
    She slowly shook her head, and softly said, “No.”
    “Olivia,” Elliot said, “If something did happen, it’s okay to…”
    “Nothing happened,” she interrupted.
    “Liv,” Huang said, choosing his words carefully in an attempt to gain her trust, “if something did happen, something that you’re not telling us about, it’s going to keep eating at you until…until you lose the will to live. But if you can find the courage to tell us--and I know you’re strong enough—just the act of getting it off your chest might provide you with a huge sense of relief.” He waited for a few seconds, just to gauge her reaction, but there was none. “Please, Liv, you know there are lots of people who care about you who just want to see you get better. And I know, deep down, you do want to feel better. Don’t keep holding onto the pain in silence.”
    Finally, there was a reaction, albeit a small one. Her hand came up to her lower lip, and Huang knew that something he said had finally reached her. He waited patiently, and she began to speak at last. “Something did happen, but I feel like, even if I talk about it, what difference does it make—you know? Nothing’s going to happen. Nothing’s going to change. Nothing ever does.”
    “That’s not true,” said Elliot, staring at her face in an attempt to get her to look him in the eye. “You know as well as I do that people go to jail every day because people speak up.”
    “Yeah, and people get let off the hook every day too, because…” A few rogue tears fell down her cheek. “Because people like me, people who are just crazy are not believed by a jury.”
    “You’re not crazy, Liv,” Elliot interjected, “just recovering from a stressful situation. The same thing could have happened to anyone.”
    “Look,” Huang said, “Even if nothing ever happens to…this person, keeping it inside is only going to hurt you, Liv. Please don’t let him win by giving away your soul, and your life.”
    She sighed, and there was a long pause before she spoke again. “Another orderly was working that night. I was still wary, but I figured it would be okay. He came in to give me my meds, and I took them this time. Then he left, so I thought everything was fine. And I didn’t pass out, so I’m pretty sure there was no GHB this time.” She shook her head and wiped away more tears. “He waited, waited for the security guard to come by, check on me, and leave. And then I saw him standing in my room.”
    The hairs on the back of Elliot’s neck stood up.
    “I wasn’t unconscious, but I was tired…so tired from the meds. I sat up just in time to be shoved back down on the bed, and he had his hand on my mouth before I could say anything.” Tears flooded her face now. Elliot wanted to put his hand on hers, but was afraid to make a move, afraid she might shut down. She calmed a little, then continued. “At first I resisted a little, but after everything that’s happened I just felt so…helpless in that moment. It seems like I fight and I fight and it never does any good, so I just…gave up.” She nodded. “I gave up.”
    She was staring into space again, but she continued on. “I guess he figured it was too risky to rape me, because he pulled out his—his penis and he stuck it in my face. And then he pried my mouth open with one hand while he held my arms down with the other. And it was over pretty quickly after that.”
    A tension-filled silence permeated the room. And then, as if realizing how uncomfortable that silence was, Huang said, “I’m so sorry Olivia.”
    Her chin was resting in her hand now. “I just can’t believe I didn’t fight it. Why did I let this happen to me again?” she whispered in the short breaths between the tears that were slowing down. “I feel like I don’t even deserve to be alive.”
    Now Elliot did grab her hand, despite her possible reaction. “No, Liv, don’t say that! We let you down. We should have done more to prevent this from happening. I let you down. I should have been more persistent.”
    “Blaming yourselves is a natural way to react,” Huang said, looking at Olivia. “I feel responsible too, because I was one of the few people who might have been able to do more to remove you from the situation. But we all know that takes the blame from the real person at fault.”
    Elliot didn’t acknowledge the statement, true as it may be, because he continued to feel like he should have done more to protect her. He should have done whatever he had to do, even if it meant violating the law.
After Huang left, Elliot sat down next to Olivia on the couch. He looked at her looking at her hands again. “Liv, I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m going to do whatever it takes to make it up to you. I just…I love you. Please get better—I promise I will never let anything—anything—happen to you again.” To his surprise, she looked at him, and there was a faint smile present on her lips.
    “Thank you Elliot. I love you too.” She hugged him. “You know, you have been my rock through all this. I never would have made it without you.” He was so happy in that moment to see her finally smiling at him, even a barely-detectable one, and even happier when she wrapped her arms around his neck and leaned her head into his shoulder. He returned the embrace, his hands gentle yet firm.
****
    Elliot noticed a dramatic improvement in Olivia over the next several weeks. She was eating again, and although she hadn’t asked to go back to work yet, she asked about some of the cases she had been working on before she took sick leave. The nightmares were still there, but becoming less frequent and less “real.” And she wanted to go out again, for walks and to dinner. She was becoming her old self again.
    The guard who raped her at the prison pled out, which was a mixed blessing to Olivia, who didn’t want to see him get any less time than he deserved, but at least she wouldn’t have to testify. The first orderly to assault her, Ryan, pled guilty to a misdemeanor. Olivia had to testify against the other orderly, Jason, in order to try and get a conviction. On the day of her testimony, she gathered up all the courage she could muster and got up on the stand.
    On direct examination with ADA Alex Cabot, she presented a straightforward account of what had happened that night. “Ms. Benson,” said the defense attorney, “You had a guard coming to check on you how often?”
    “Every half-hour.”
    “And you expect us to believe he didn’t see or hear anything unusual?”
    “No, Jason got to me in between visits,” she said, trying not to get rattled.
    “Must have been fast,” he said.
    “It was. He was.”
    “But just a day prior to that, you were kicking and screaming and had to be restrained when a guard even said the wrong thing to you. Where was all that fighting spirit then?”
    “Objection, your honor,” chimed in Alex. “Is he implying that the witness was wrong not to fight back?”
    “Sustained,” said the judge.
    “You waited a whole month to report this assault, Ms. Benson,” he continued. “ Why?”
    “I felt like no one would believe me.”
    “You knew, as a sex crimes cop, that there would be no physical evidence after waiting so long?”
    “Yes, I…” she hesitated.
    “Ms. Benson, why were you in the psych ward?”
    To Olivia’s surprise, Alex didn’t object. “I, um…I tried to kill myself.”
    “And when you were in there, that first day, you claimed that the ‘guards’, as you called them, were looking at you funny.”
    “I felt like they were, yeah.”
    “Ms. Benson, haven’t you made three allegations of sexual assault within one single one-month period?”
    “Yes,” she heard her voice hardening, “and two of the perps ended up pleading guilty.”
    “Isn’t it true that you are hell-bent on going after men in positions of authority, Ms. Benson, that this is all just a witch hunt?”
    “Objection, your honor!” Alex yelled. But the defense attorney continued anyway.
    “That you are just a paranoid cop who is jaded from working sex crimes, and every man you see working in an institutional setting is a ‘perp’ who is out to get women, to get you?”
    “NO!” Olivia yelled.
    “Counsel!” yelled the judge.
    “That last question is withdrawn, your Honor. No further questions.”
    Noticing that Olivia was breathing hard and afraid she might speak out of turn, Alex quickly stated, “Redirect, your Honor.”
    “Go ahead,” confirmed the judge.
    “Olivia,” said Alex as she walked towards the witness chair, “why were you so depressed that you wanted to take your own life?”
    “Objection, relevance, your Honor.”
    “You raised the subject, counsel,” said Alex. And now Olivia understood why Alex hadn’t objected before. It gave her an opportunity to explain herself.
    “I, uh, a month before I had been working undercover in a prison, and I was brutally raped by a prison guard. There was plenty of evidence to convict him, even corroborating witnesses, which is why he pled guilty. After that happened to me, I had so many problems. I couldn’t sleep because I had nightmares that were so real. I was shaking all the time. I got to where I didn’t want to do anything but lie around the house. I felt so…helpless, like there was nothing I could do to protect myself. And I felt like it was my fault, and that I didn’t deserve to live.” A single tear rolled down her cheek.
    “So what happened?”
    “I tried to shoot myself with my gun, but my partner stopped me. I got put in the psych ward against my will.”
    “And so why did you wait so long to report this assault after you got out?”
    Olivia thought a moment. “When you’re in the psych ward, everyone just assumes your crazy. I tried to tell others that something wasn’t right in there, that staff was being inappropriate, and they were. But everyone just thought that I wasn’t right in the head, so I couldn’t be telling the truth.” She paused. “But it really did happen. I just…gave up trying to convince everyone.”
    “Thank you Olivia.” Turning to the judge, she said, “No further questions, your Honor.”
    As they walked out of the courtroom, Olivia spotted Elliot getting up from the back row. He put his arm on her shoulder, leaned into her and whispered, “I’m so proud of you.”
****
    The next day, the jury came back with a verdict, and it was a disappointing “Not guilty.” Olivia felt a little bit let down, but she still felt much better than she had before confessing what had happened to Huang and Elliot. Huang had been right. It had been eating her life away. And now she could get on with starting to live again, and learning to love in a way she never had before.