Content warning: Discussion of domestic and emotional abuse.
Netflix’s series Maid is a riveting first-hand account of the shattering impact domestic abuse has on its victims. The mini-series brilliantly conveys the blockades and triumphs involved in the protagonist’s life, and the resilience that is needed to stay headstrong and positive. The story follows the protagonist, Alex, and her journey with her daughter as she flees her emotionally abusive boyfriend. The show illuminates how dark moments, such as those Alex experiences, can be difficult to overcome. There isn’t always light at the end of the tunnel, and even when there is light, it can often be overshadowed by one’s dark memories.
Maid provides a look at the power of resilience. The show isn’t simply entertainment or melodrama. It brings attention to several social issues the protagonist faces. The show brilliantly weaves the adversity faced by victims of abuse with the harsh reality of poverty and the broken system, providing a more nuanced look at the intricacies of leaving an abusive relationship.
The social construct of what abuse looks like is one primarily seen through the light of physical abuse, with emotional abuse often overshadowed or simply not acknowledged at all. The abuse itself extends beyond the victim. It permeates into every aspect of the victim’s life and creates unstable living environments for the victim and the victim’s dependents. Answering the age-old question of “why doesn’t she just leave the relationship?” is more nuanced than one may believe, as the subsequent answer is “where would she go?”. There are countless reasons why survivors stay with their abusive partners. Survivors with limited support, especially those living under the poverty line, are often faced with limited options. Some are faced with either having a roof over their head and being abused or taking to the streets.
After leaving her boyfriend and spending the night in her car, Alex is faced with the looming uncertainty of where she can go. With limited support and financial means, she can only think of one place: social services. When the social worker asked whether she would consider going to a domestic violence shelter, Alex shook her head, opposing the idea due to her belief that those are places for people who are ‘abused for real’. After all, her boyfriend never physically abused her – he only threw things above her head, hit inanimate objects when he was angry, and intimidated and controlled her. With no money or support, Alex opts to move to the women’s shelter with her daughter – a temporary arrangement. She begins working as a Maid in the hopes of building a brighter future for herself and her daughter, despite having all odds stacked against her. The particularly heart-wrenching scenes in the show are the ones related to her living situations. A series of unfortunate events unfolds, providing a deeply moving account of Alex’s journey. Alex faces one roadblock after another, but overcomes these adversities using hope, determination, and comedy.
Perhaps what is most unique about the show is the raw depiction of Alex’s experience as a victim of abuse. Alex demonstrates the emotional strain abuse can cause, and the long journey it takes for victims of emotional abuse to recognize themselves as victims. The system many abuse victims turn to is one filled with systemic flaws– paperwork, conditional entry, and long wait times are all part of Alex’s experience. While Alex is initially able to overcome the broken system, she later retreats, forced to decide between living on the streets with her daughter, or returning to her abuser. Alex’s return to her abusive boyfriend later in the series casts light on the cyclical nature of abuse, and the inability those close to her have of recognizing emotional abuse in the same light as physical abuse. The viewers gain a better understanding of the intricacies and challenges associated with abusive relationships beyond the abuse itself.
The rawness found in Maid distinguishes its production from any other. The show sheds light on the impact emotional abuse has on its victims, emphasizing the importance of recognizing all forms of abuse in the same light. The increased awareness serves as an effective antidote to society’s inability to view emotional abuse in the same light as other forms of abuse.
Maid is a must-see. It is an emotional experience that will forever change your perception of abuse. The series is deeply emotional, and will leave you with the understanding that healing from trauma is possible. With strength, determination, and hope, healing can be achieved.
HEADER IMAGE CREDIT: INC MAGAZINE