Big Brother, the grand daddy of all modern day “reality” television has since its inception been skating downhill towards cartoonish acting out and triviality until last night. When the first ever series was ramping up its publicity the production company Endemol touted it as a modern day psychological experiment with plenty of learning to be had. It’s never lived up to its promise in that regard until last night. Last night Big Brother (BB) unwittingly showed the world a real life example of how a relationship could start down a spiral into abuse and control.
Last night I watched, transfixed, as I saw Daley hold Hazel down on a bed and threaten her. I was both transfixed and repulsed. It was one of those moments where I was deeply uncomfortable as I witnessed what could have been the start of an abusive relationship.
For those that may not be familiar I will summarise. Two contestants, Daley and Hazel in this year’s Big Brother house have been outrageously flirting with each other for the last week or two. The way they both keep moving closer towards physical contact has been almost compulsive viewing. We all know what they are doing because we have been there. The added spice or danger was that Daley supposedly had a girlfriend on the outside looking in.
This series of BB has a secret house within the house and to make the whole thing more pressurised through a series of unforeseen events Hazel and Daley have ended up as residents of the secret house. Their own little nest to continue to act out their attraction and they have done so with enthusiasm. Those of us shouting out “get a room, please” realise that they do have a room and we do not have to watch. The TV has an off button, I remind myself.
Last night as they settled down to sleep in their separate beds Hazel started goading Daley for a cuddle and to provoke him in moving toward her she stole his covers. What followed was a lot of pushing and shoving in play. Then, as Daley’s physical strength won the game Hazel realised he had won and suggested a truce resolved with “a cuddle.”
This is the point where Daley clearly could not stop as he knelt down by her, grabbed her by the neck and pinned her down before menacingly sneering: “Don’t f*** with me.
“Respect your f****** elders, before I nut you one.”
This article cannot truly tell how menacing it was. It made truly uncomfortable viewing.
Shortly after this both were summoned separately to the diary room and questioned and Daley was evicted from the house. As he was dismissed he protested it was play fighting …..She wasn’t scared….otherwise they would not have cuddled afterwards.
At this point I can imagine thousands of women and men trapped in abusive relationships that know exactly why they cuddled afterwards. It’s called fear.
What was played out in front of hundreds of thousand of viewers was an example of how an abusive relationship can start. It’s through the games, the play threats with the discernible edge of menace that these things start. If the partner is not strong enough to say” that makes me feel uncomfortable and it stops now or I am out of this relationship” then instead they may buy into the protestations of its play and I didn’t mean anything by it.
Of course the next time….
The moment was deeply uncomfortable to watch but it showed several signs of a relationship that, if it continues, could become abusive.
What were these signs?
- Unacceptable behaviour. Daley slapped her on the backside hard (part of the play?) and later held her down and threatened her.
- Phraseology used – “you need to respect your elders…………I’ll finish you…..I’ll nut you” all the language of control and power.
- The justification when he was thrown out ……we cuddled afterwards….so it must be ok then. ‘What have I done wrong? All I wanted was my blankets back.’…….oh, you wanted your blankets, now I understand your behaviour, that’s ok then (irony)
Finally, what’s the difference between a play threat and a threat? If she complies, she will never know whether he meant it or not. If the threat is carried out then, of course, it’s too late.
Well done to Big Brother for taking swift action and evicting Daley. Daley may not be a potential abuser. He may have been inappropriately play acting. If this is the case he clearly, like many of my clients, does not realise how scary he is when he acts up or out. Whatever I hope he has learned, and help thousands out there learn a valuable lesson.
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