By Jasmine Kelly
If you or anyone you know is experiencing domestic abuse and desire to leave that situation, call the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or text “START” to 88788.
I have never been so stressed, enlightened, and hopeful while watching a television mini-series in my life. If you have watched MAID on Netflix, then you are aware of how I feel. The main character of the series is Margaret Qualley who stars as Alex. Alex is a single mother who flees an abusive relationship and finds work as maid. Alex works to make ends meet for her daughter and to provide them with a better future.
Though very hard to watch, I enjoyed the series because it did a wonderful job of highlighting poverty and how abuse is not only physical. Viewers saw how Alex experienced trauma emotionally, verbally, and psychologically. As a matter of fact, subconsciously, I was waiting for her boyfriend (turned ex-boyfriend) in the film to harm her physically. Not because I wanted him to but because with films that highlight abuse, it is almost always expected.
I found myself stressed out in the film because there were many times I thought Why did Alex do that? She knows better! However, I knew I was terribly wrong as trauma manifests in various ways and bad decision-making is one of them. Research suggests poverty affects higher-level thinking skills, including decision-making. One explanation poses a relationship between the state of poverty, the stress/trauma response, and impaired decision-making (Hilarski, 2017). How could we expect Alex to make decisions that would lead to better outcomes for herself and her child when her environment was less than favorable? The same rationale applies to Black women experiencing poverty and abuse.
According to Gordon (2021), For Black women, domestic violence risks are extremely high. In fact, they are 30–50 percent more likely to experience domestic violence than white women. And, worse yet, they are almost three times as likely to die as a result of domestic violence than white women. Also, Black women represent 22.3 percent of women in poverty but makeup only 12.8 percent of all women in the U.S. population (Bleiweis, Boesch, and Gaines, 2020). Considering the former statistics, it is easy to understand why many Black women find it hard to leave abusive situations. Even if their current environments have the potential to kill them, they are trying to survive.
All in all, MAID forced me to think and understand why some women fail to leave abusive situations and why trauma is perpetuated amongst families.
Hilarski, C. (2017.). The Role of Trauma and Poverty in Decision-Making: Implications for OTDA Practices. Public Assistance Development Programs. (p.2) Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.buffalostate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=pubassistdevprograms
Gordon, S. (2021). Unique Issues Facing Black Women Dealing with Abuse. Verywelmind. (p.3). Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/unique-issues-facing-black-women-dealing-with-abuse-4173228
Bleiweis, C., Boesch, D., & Gaines, A. (2020). The Basic Facts about Women in Poverty. Center for American Progress. (p.4). Retrieved from https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/women/reports/2020/08/03/488536/basic-facts-women-poverty/
Jasmine Kelly is a contributing writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. Jasmine is a higher education professional who believes in the powers of Black Twitter. You can follow her on Instagram @chicomydusty