TW: The mentioned Netflix show as well as this post contain specific reference to instances of domestic violence.
Quick Summary of Netflix’s Maid (Spoilers)
Netflix’s Maid Folows the protagonist Alex who is a mom of an almost three year old child. She is in an emotionally abusive with her long term partner and the father of her child. She is completely financially dependent as she was the childcare while her partner worked. In the first scene she escapes into the middle of the night with her child and seek support. Due to the controlling nature of her ex Alex had no work and no childcare to begin working. Social services was unable to provide childcare vouchers or any other form of assistance due to a lack of work. Alex’s ex was able to win temporary custody due to Alex’s financial instability. Through many twists and turns Alex returns to her ex and ends up stuck in the abuse and in a deep depression. After an aggressive incident she finds the strength to leave again and eventually is able to move on with her life.
Why it matters
Alex faced many issues leaving her ex and gaining support even in teh court. Why? because she couldn’t prove her abuse there were no bruises and no witnesses. Throughout the mini series Alex experiences moments where she questions her own story and wonders if what she experienced was truly abuse. The control, intimidation, fear, and feeling of being trapped may sound familiar to some of the readers here.
The cycle of Power and Abuse
If you’ve been a victim yourself or been close to one you can understand why it takes so many times for a victim to permanently leave their abuser. The show shares that it often takes a woman 7 times to leave permanently. Those who haven’t been a victim frequently ask a simple question “why did you stay.” I’ll answer that here.
Therapists frequently refer to the cycle of power and abuse and I’ll outline it here. If you haven’t heard of it before I recommend you look further into this. The cycle refers to a pattern of behavior many perpetrators of DV engage in. The story usually starts with an “incident.” A moment where they cross the line and you wonder if you should leave. You may be scared and unsure but you know things can’t go on like this. Soon after the incident the perpetrator becomes very remorseful and apologizes, they say they’ll change, and for a time they do. This next part of the cycle is called the honeymoon stage.
This stage tends to last the longest. During this stage they are on their best behavior and you begin to question why you were considering leaving and you decide it wasn’t a big deal after all. In the next stage tension begins to build. They may become more snappy, they may pick up drinking, began verbally insulting you, etc., At this stage the fear begins to build back up. You remember that feeling of being on edge and scared about what may set him off. Finally he crosses the line again. This looks different for everyone whether its emotional, physical, or sexual he does something to you that should never happen to anyone. And you find yourself considering leaving.
Do you see how that happens? This cycle continues endlessly and each time it becomes easier to forget what happened and get lost in the honeymoon period. You tell yourself that was the last time and you find a way to move forward. After all you don’t want to start over or maybe you have no way to.
There are many resources for domestic violence. I’ll list them below. For anyone who has the means I’d like to recommend therapy. The wonderful thing about therapy for domestic violence survivors is the confidentiality. You know if you tell your friends and family it’ll just make your life harder. Your therapist can be with you even if you decide to stay. The environment of unconditional positive regard can provide you with a safe space to talk about what’s happening and unpack how you are feeling. Whatever you choose to do… or not to do you can move forward with support and no judgment.