At this year’s Emmy Awards, HBO’s hit miniseries Big Little Lies, starring Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, and Shailene Woodley, stood as a testament to the incredible relationships fostered between women – and it certainly won big for it.
The seven-episode series, which is adapted from a Liane Moriarty novel, offered a touching and well-carried look into the lives of three mothers, all of whom are dealing with topics like domestic violence, divorce, aging, and family life. Big Little Lies took home five Emmys, including Best Actress in a Leading Role by Nicole Kidman, Best Actor in a Leading Role by Alexander Skarsgård, and overall for Best Mini-Series.
Kidman and Skarsgård’s characters, without giving too much away, are the two characters on whom the theme of domestic abuse centers. Kidman’s character, Celeste Wright, is physically abused by her husband, who is played by Skarsgård. The show works to display the insidious nature of domestic abuse, and Nicole Kidman took her acceptance speech as a chance to expand on the need for a spotlight on this issue.
“We’ve shown a light on domestic abuse,” Kidman said to an applauding crowd. “It is a complicated, insidious disease. It exists far more than we allow ourselves to know. It is filled with shame and secrecy. And by you acknowledging me with this award, it shines a light on it even more. So thank you, thank you, thank you. I bow down to you.”
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, in the United States, “on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.”
As Kidman so aptly stated, Big Little Lies succeeds in highlighting the complicated and harrowing nature of domestic violence. Factors in the victim’s life, such as their shared children, past hardships overcome with their abuser, and attempts by the abuser himself/herself to insist that they will get better, all work to further entangle the victim.
An abuser may also begin to try and control their partner’s life through things like controlling who their partner hangs out with, limiting their partner’s career, or even emotionally manipulating their partner.
Big Little Lies’ expert portrayal of this dangerous relationship allows the viewer to understand the truth, which is that abuse will not stop. In the United States, nearly three women are killed every day by their intimate partners.
If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) at 1-800-799-7233. The NDVH helpfully notes that computer use has been known to be monitored by abusers, and calling the hotline may be the safest option. Always be sure to seek professional help to access the resources needed to reach safety as soon as possible. In Big Little Lies, Kidman’s therapist reminds her that keeping the abuse a secret would only end up hurting her, as a lack of proof and witnesses could complicate matters of custody over her children.
Big Little Lies has put domestic abuse on center stage and has thus allowed audiences to realize the gravity of it. The spotlight is much needed.
The show imparts its message of survival through courage. Sentiments that many abuse survivors have echoed include: it is never the victim’s fault. You have no reason to be ashamed. You do not deserve this. There is help available. It is your life, and you can always rebuild it.
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