What Happened to Alma in Raising Voices? Was She Raped?

In Netflix’s ‘Raising Voices,’ we follow the story of a teenager named Alma whose life is changed after an incident at a party. As she tries to process the events, refraining from telling anyone about it, she receives offensive texts from an unknown person and is subject to bullying by a gang of boys at school. Meanwhile, her friends are going through complicated stuff of their own, with one of them being caught up in a toxic relationship with one of Alma’s bullies. As we see flashbacks of that night, the question of what really happened that day and who the face behind Alma’s nightmares is makes for a pressing question. SPOILERS AHEAD

Who Raped Alma?

At the beginning of the show, when we see Alma raise the banner in front of the school, revealing the presence of a sexual predator within its premises, it seems that she is fighting for herself. Later, when the posts of a certain “Coleman Miller” are mentioned, especially the first one captioned, “this is what I looked like before I was raped,” it seems like Alma was the victim of rape and she has been isolated by others because of it, instead of making the culprit pay for their crime. Then we see Alma leave for a party, and the logical conclusion is that she was raped that night, but then, the story takes a different turn.

What happened to Alma that night was complicated, to say the least. Beginning with her own mental and physical state at the time, she was not in a good condition to make decisions. She had run away from home after she was grounded and specifically told not to leave the house. Then, she tried to kiss David and was rejected, which hit her harder than expected. She was also heavily drunk and under the influence of drugs at the time. And then, her friend Hernan showed up. She didn’t want to go home in that state because she knew it would only land her in trouble, so she asked Hernan to take her to his house. Then, somewhere in between, Hernan claims she agreed to have sex with him.

Image Credit: Javier del Cerro/Netflix

Taking note of Hernan’s mental state at the time, one notes that he knew Alma was drunk and not in the state to make rational decisions. As a good friend, he should have dropped her home. Even if he took her to his house, he should have left her alone to sleep it out. He knew that Alma didn’t reciprocate his feelings when she was sober, so when she agreed to (as he claims) sleep with him drunk, he saw it as his only opportunity to ever be with her. He took advantage of her vulnerability, and the situation was made worse for Alma when she knew she didn’t want to go through with it anymore but couldn’t say no to him because she didn’t know how he would react to it. So, she let him have his way with her, all the while wishing she had never said yes to him, or better, stayed back and waited for Greta.

A technicality would say that considering she had given consent, Alma wasn’t raped. No charges would be pressed against Hernan, and even if a police complaint were filed, it wouldn’t go anywhere because Alma would be lying if she said she didn’t initially agree to it. If she wanted it to stop, why didn’t she just say no? This would be used to dismiss the case, and it gives the audience a lot of food for thought. Why do girls feel that they can’t change their minds about sex even if they’d initially agreed to it? More importantly, why does her childhood friend justify his actions with the excuse of her inebriated state?

Image Credit: Javier del Cerro/Netflix

In the end, Hernan apologizes to Alma, accepting his fault in the matter. He agrees that he did take advantage of her and should have dropped her home instead of having sex with her. Alma, too, forgives him, hoping he will learn from his mistake and never repeat it with another girl. Apart from their old friendship, Alma dismisses Hernan’s transgression so quickly because, by that time, she is too caught up in another matter entirely.

Circling back to the Instagram post under the name of Coleman Miller and hanging the banner in front of the school, we discover that the rape victim that Alma was standing up for wasn’t herself but her friend, Berta, who had been sexually abused by their History teacher for about a year before she moved schools. The teacher, who appears friendly and nice on the outside, took advantage of Berta’s vulnerability. She was going through her parents’ divorce and had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Like a predator, he singled her out and abused her repeatedly. Later, when Berta dies, and Alma discovers that the teacher is still targeting and abusing other girls, she decides to expose him, and this is what brings us to the opening scene of the show.

Read More: Raising Voices: Is the Story of the Netflix Show True?