Benson and Stabler arrive at the scene of a rape to discover all their evidence has been washed away with the help of a spilled oil drum. The forensic detective alerts Stabler that the oil has been there for a while and if the victim was indeed raped, she would have oil on her, too. The detectives question if their victim, Mia, was raped at all.
Stabler and Benson suspect Mia is a victim of severe spousal abuse. They enlist the help of the downstairs neighbors, hoping to shed some light on what goes on at night between Mia and her husband, Brent. Jonah, the neighbor suffering from MS, and his wife, Linny, admit they hear loud disturbances from Mia and Brent's apartment. But Linny is too scared to officially report anything out of fear of losing their apartment.
Linny calls Mia downstairs and Mia runs down offering to help. Mia isn't happy to see Benson, until Benson forces Mia to look at her bruises. Mia recaps the story she told the cops the night she reported her rape. She said Brent raped her because he's desperate for her to have his child. Brent is arrested and posts bail, while Benson places Mia in a shelter for battered women.
After Mia drops all the charges against Brent, Benson rushes to their apartment to check on her. She finds Mia fragile but tells Benson to leave, that it was a misunderstanding. A very disappointed Benson leaves and checks in on Linny, who is disgusted that Mia went back to Brent.
Linny claims she can hear every noise coming out of Mia and Brent's apartment. Benson admits that a stakeout might be the only way to save Mia's life. In the dead of night, she hears Brent's screaming and Mia's crying. Stabler busts through the doors and finds Mia bloodied and beaten with a knife in her chest. Linny and Benson both watch Mia slowly bleed to death on the kitchen floor.
Linny and Benson are both extremely shaken up over Mia's death. Forensics tells Benson that when Mia was killed, another murderer was found. The person being Linny, who had been on the run for over 30 years for the murder of her first husband. Jonah is shocked to hear Linny isn't the person he had married. She met Jonah shortly after shooting her abusive husband, Vincent.
Benson brings Linny in and questions her about her past. She admits to Benson that she was young and in love when she married Vincent. But, his love quickly turned to abuse. One night, Vincent raped Linny over and over, again. After he was done, he went to sleep and she killed him with the gun he had used to threaten her with.
The DA's office is sure that Linny won't serve time for her crime, but Judge Donnelly wants justice. At the time, Donnelly was the prosecutor in Linny's orginal case and wants escape charges brought against Linny and orders Benson to place the woman under arrest. Benson confronts Donnelly over her insensitivity towards Linny's case.
The case is personal for Donnelly. Donnelly says she was supposed to watch Linny at the time of her escape. When she failed to do her job properly, she became a laughingstock at the DA's office and that one act set the women's movement back in the DA's office. Benson is shocked to hear that Donnelly is refusing to back down.
Donnelly is accusing Benson of being snowed by Linny's story, the same way she was snowed by her. She says Linny isn't a victim; she's a manipulative woman and always will be.
Benson heads back to prison to visit Linny. She demands Linny tell her what happened on the night she escaped. Linny swears she escaped at the spur of the moment, but Benson wants to know why Linny wanted to meet with Donnelly so bad that night to begin with. Linny says she can't remember why and refuses to tell Benson the real reason she ran away.
Linny fights back tears and tells Benson all the details from the night of Vincent's murder. She talks about how Vincent brutally raped her over and over again and how he had promised to continue to do it in the morning. Linny swears she had no choice but to kill Vincent. She later tells her story to the jury.
Benson watches Donnelly tear apart Linny's story on the stand. Linny swears she shot Vincent in self-defense. She finally caves and tells Donnelly and the rest of the courtroom the reason she wanted to see Donnelly on the night of her escape. It was because she was pregnant and she didn't know where to go.
Donnelly remains shocked and saddened as Linny tells the court that she had to escape because that was the only way she could get an abortion. She tried talking to Donnelly that night, but was having a hard time getting the words out. Linny admits she was intimidated by Donnelly and her determination to always show she was in control.
Linny is found not guilty of murder but found guilty of her escape. Donnelly tells the court she will be pushing for no jail time and instead probation; the judge believes that is a wise decision. Donnelly apologizes to Linny for her behavior and says that stories like Linny's remind Donnelly why she wanted to serve justice in the first place.
Linny is ready to go home with Jonah, but he tells her otherwise. He's hurt from all of Linny's lies, especially about the abortion. He accuses Linny of stealing all of his memories and dashing his younger dreams of being a dad and a grandfather. Linny begins to cry, but Jonah says he doesn't even know her anymore and says he will never be able to forgive her.