Pop culture can be helpful in illustrating social problems, such as domestic violence, so that we can better understand our own situation or that of a friend or family member. Here are three popular TV series that depict the dynamics of teen dating violence and domestic violence.
Euphoria depicts the gritty, personal details of several high schoolers' lives. We have an inside look at drug abuse and addiction, friend and family conflict, and various personalities, priorities, and coping mechanisms of teenagers. One specific toxic relationship on the show, Nate and Maddie, frames the dynamics of teen dating violence.
We see the progression of Nate's physical violence towards Maddie, his unwillingness to take accountability for his actions, and the rationalizations that she uses to justify that it is normal and okay. Maddie's thought processes are portrayed through her conversations with her mother, in which she yells "All love looks different," and other scenes with the school principal and peers. She finds herself in the middle of an abusive cycle that she has become desensitized to.
Euphoria also gives us a look into Nate's childhood trauma and consequential mindset. Though we can empathize with Nate for his difficult childhood experiences and broken familial relationships, there is no excuse for him actively choosing to be abusive. Identifiably, Nate is not held accountable for the blackmail, rage, and manipulation that he employs to Maddie and other schoolmates throughout the show.
Euphoria is available to watch on Hulu.
Maid follows the journey of a 20-something mother, Alex, who faces countless barriers after leaving her partner, Sean, who is emotionally and physically abusive and is dependent on substances. After fleeing, Alex and her toddler, Maddie, have nowhere to stay and no car. Because she was a stay-at-home mom, Alex also has no connection to a childcare provider or recent work experience that can help her find a job.
Maddie is occasionally cared for by her grandmother, who struggles with severe bipolar disorder, so that Alex can start her new job with a cleaning service company. Along with the insufficient pay and having to take inefficient public transportation, the difficulty finding consistent, affordable childcare for Maddie adds to the stress. Without any help from family, friends, or a domestic violence organization, it would take Alex months to be able to raise the funds for a deposit and first month's rent to secure her own place.
On top of these barriers, Alex lacks a reliable support system. Along with her broken relationship with her parents, her "friends" do not understand why she left her relationship and think that Sean treated her fine. At one point, an old friend named Nate welcomes Alex and Maddie in to help them while they work to reach self-sufficiency. However, Alex comes to realize that Nate expects the two to develop a romantic relationship. Once he realizes that will not happen, he withdraws his support. Thankfully, Alex receives resources, guidance, and shelter from the local domestic violence organization.
At another point in Maid, Alex finds herself returning to Sean, the abusive partner, because she was unable to secure housing and has run out of options. This realistic event helps illustrate the statistic that victims of domestic violence will attempt to leave their abusive partner 7 times, on average, before leaving them permanently. After discussing all the barriers that Alex faces, not to mention the emotional and mental trauma that she experiences, we can understand this turn of events.
Maid is available to watch on Netflix.
The Handmaid's Tale illustrates a totalitarian, patriarchal society that assigns specific women to serve as "handmaids" for family units whose wives are unable to bear children. The handmaids have no free will and must bear a child for their family unit, surrendering all legal rights to the child upon birth.
The draconian laws of the region, Gilead, places men in all positions of leadership and sets them as authoritarian heads of household. They are permitted to "corporally punish" and sexually assault the women in their family unit. The main character, Offred, is radically resistant to this new societal structure and does everything she can to escape and protect her children from growing up in Gilead.
Although The Handmaid's Tale is fantasy, it touches on many modern issues, like lack of equal rights for women and domestic violence. Specifically, the series illustrates the physical, mental, and emotional abuse that people stuck in abusive relationships have to endure. If you are in an emotionally abusive environment in which your partner tells you that you cannot make it without them, that you are worthless, and that no one else would want to be with you, it is difficult to build up the confidence to seek help.
The Handmaid's Tale is available to watch on Hulu.
Peace at Home Family Shelter was founded to help victims of domestic violence obtain safety and self-sufficiency. Call us on our 24/7 Help Line at 479.442.9811 and a trained advocate will be on the line to chat with you. Our Help Line is also a resource if you are looking for more information for a friend or family member, or would like more information to refer clients or community members to our services.
We have several helpful services, all completely free and optional, and you are not required to stay in our shelter as a resident to receive these services.