It’s no secret that Hollywood has a tendency to take real- life situations and implement an overkill of creative theatrics. But "Private Practice" star KaDee Strickland refused to let that happen in the upcoming dramatic sexual assault scene on her character, Dr. Charlotte King, set to air on a controversial episode Thursday night.
Not only did she ensure that the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) worked with her and the show’s writer every step of the way, but she’s going beyond her acting duties and using the scene as a platform to work with and build awareness on the issue of sexual abuse and its devastating mental health effects.
"The thing I’ve learned from my work with survivors is that they want this. The only way people can confront their feelings is to see that there are more outlets for their stories being told," Strickland told Pop Tarts.
In preparation for the scene, Strickland spent time at a rape treatment center in Los Angeles, where she was confronted with children as young as five who were undergoing professional medical help to recover from the ordeal.
"It’s never too late to get help. Women can go in there, never having talked about it for 20 years and get treatment, no questions asked. If it’s a family member, or your own husband, a lot of people shy away from speaking out," she continued, "There had also been a five-year-old girl just brought in when I was there, who had been repeatedly raped, waiting in the room. There was another young girl seeking therapy."
And unlike a large proportion of Hollywood plots, which feature a tragedy and then miraculously everyone has moved on in the next episode, Strickland made sure her character’s rape, and the consequential suffering, will be carried through the entire duration of the show.
"I knew instinctively going into it that you can’t let the storyline die off because once this happens to a person, this is their reality and it’s their life," she said. "When something like this happens, it is absolutely devastating and it shatters a person’s reality and the thing that I love moving forward is that you really see what a person deals with in terms of whether they can come to terms with the fact that this happened – can they try to be proactive in taking this person off the streets and can they be a partner in a relationship again?"
And while performing a rape scene for the lights and camera was certainly a challenge for the 34-year-old actress, she was more concerned about the show’s crew having to stand there and watch.
"The difficulty is that you want it to be as realistic as possible without being un-watchable because the reality of the event is so horrific," Strickland added. "We did the scene for a very long time and more than anything, my concern going in was if there were any people in the crew that needed to step away, I completely understood because we have some survivors in our crew."
Additional reporting from Deidre Behar.