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Netflix true story brings light to male sexual assault victims.
Jadis Veal
Drawing of Richard Gadd With Antlers

WARNING: The following article talks about sexual violence, use of drugs, and extreme stalking. SPOILERS!

Baby Reindeer was released on Netflix on April 11, and stars Richard Gadd. Originally, this show was a screenplay written by Richard Gadd in 2019 and is a story based off his real life experience dealing with a stalker and sexual abuse.  

In the show Gadd’s character is Donny Dunn. Donny, a pub bartender, with a dream to become a comedian. The first scene shows Donny trying to report his stalker. The officer asks how long the stalking has been going on for and his response is six months. After that, he asks Donny why he waited so long – segmenting to the first time he met his stalker. 

Donny’s first words were, “I felt sorry for her”. Martha, his stalker, walked into the pub and sat in front of him with a solemn face. He offered her tea on-the-house and then it began. Martha came in every single day for Donny. 

Beyond just showing up at his work, she got ahold of his email and eventually his phone number.

Netflix has confirmed that in real life Gadd received 41,071 emails and 350 hours of voice mails over the course of the two years.


Martha was doing more than ringing up his phone. She started appearing everywhere in his life and harassed the other people in his life.  Donny would feel guilty for her, despite everything that she had been doing to him. Men and women both experience sexual abuse, but men have had a lot more social pressure when it comes to talking about it. 

The NSVRC talks about how men were always taught to suppress their emotions, avoid vulnerability, and not ask for help. Those stigmas have caused men to feel the need to be silent about their abuse, struggles, and not to show weakness. There are lots of toxic masculinity stereotypes that affect men in this way.  Some examples given by NSVRC are that men are socialized to want sex, a socially acceptable emotion is anger, and the male gender role to maintain power. The #metoo movement started in 2006 and really blew up in 2017. The goal of this movement was to bring awareness to sexual violence. Not only did it help women speak out louder, but also help de-stigmatize male victims. Nowadays there are a lot more resources for male victims. There are articles, podcasts, blogs all online, as well as hotlines or resource centers to contact.

Donny’s last straw before reporting was Martha attacking his date. He was angry and finally stood up for himself.

It goes back to the first scene where the police officer asks him why it took six months to report. The show jumps to five years earlier – the beginning of Donny’s comedy career. He met Darian, a 55 year old writer of a comedy show. They became very close, offered gigs and gave Donny the big idea of becoming famous. 

He would manipulate and use Donny whenever he needed him. Darrian was making Donny feel special for giving him these opportunities. Donny was always coming over getting high. The higher Darrian would get Donny, the worse the sexual assault would get. Donny was too high and vulnerable to do anything about it. 

A nonprofit organization called 1in6 shows that at least one in six men have been sexually abused or assaulted. They say at least, because of the men who don’t speak up about it. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) shows 43% of men experience some form of sexual harrassment. 

He would still go over hoping that it would stop or to push down what was really going on. The first time Darrian raped Donny, turned into the last time he would see him for a long time. At one of his shows after it all happened, Donny broke down on stage and let out everything that had happened to him in front of an entire audience. Someone recorded it and it went viral. 

Donny still never reported him. He never spoke about it openly with the close people in his life. Once the video came out, he felt a small piece lifted off his shoulder, but he didn’t feel better about it. Without talking to loved ones or a therapist about a traumatic event, makes it harder to process. When he tried to report Martha, he felt like he couldn’t because he never reported Darrian.

Richard Gadd is not the only man that was scared to share his story, thanks to Baby Reindeer it gives people another perspective of the tragedy that is sexual violence.

About the Contributors
Lexi Bartholomew
Lexi Bartholomew, Reporter
my spotify playlists are cooler than yours
Jadis Veal
Jadis Veal, Illustrator
"Where's everyone going? Bingo?"- Leon Kennedy