The 10 episode hit mini-series streaming on NETFLIX, “Maid” has brought all eyes centered on domestic violence; and the government hoops victims have to jump through for justice.
The series begins with the protagonist Alex (Margaret Qualley), young mother of two-year -old, Maddy (Rylea Nevaeh Whittet). She stole away in the night with her daughter and barely $18 in cash to escape her emotionally controlling/abusive boyfriend/father of her child, Sean (Nick Robinson). Through flashbacks viewers can see that Sean threw a glass in Alex’s direction in a fit of alcoholic rage. The glass shattered all over, almost harming their daughter Maddy.
After sleeping in her car and countless other places, she finds a domestic violence shelter for her and her daughter. Eventually, she begins working as a maid. The very first house she cleans is to a snobby wealthy female lawyer, Regina (Anika Noni Rose). Regina starts out as one of the first obstacles in Alex’s way to freedom; and ends up being part of her solution to a better life.
“Maid” reveals the cyclical nature of domestic violence
“Maid” is a prime example of how domestic violence is cyclical. There’s a closed circle of constant obstacles without an opening to truly escape. Finally, when an abused woman gets the slightest bit of leverage or help from the right people, she can start to break open that circle. Many women stay or go back to their abusers because of how difficult the government makes it for women to succeed on their own, especially when children are involved.
Alex did not have physical bruises to show, but the trauma and PTSD is evident throughout the series. She had several panic attacks throughout the series that made me want to fast forward to the next part, because as someone with anxiety, I know how debilitating panic attacks are. I felt everything she was feeling throughout the show. This series was presented like a book. The imagery drew me in and placed me in Alex’s story. I felt like I was in her shoes and along for the marathon.
The saving grace of the written word
Alex is an excellent creative writer. She uses her writing as a tool for her own therapy and eventually to help other domestic violence victims. While I am not a domestic violence victim, I am a writer with a mental health illness. Writing is one of my tools for my own therapy.
This particular character trait helped me relate even further with Alex. She’s intelligent, likable, and flawed. She’s relatable and displays an alternative view of victims of domestic violence. Many victims are considered to be weak, ugly, stupid, and lazy. “Maid” helps change the perspective. Victims are perceived that way, because victims have been made to feel less than through extensive emotional abuse.
Emotional abuse is abuse
One of the lines from the series that stood out to me is “What am I supposed to say? That he didn’t hit me.” – Alex.
Emotional abuse is often the precursor to physical abuse. It starts small. First the abuser gaslights and blames the victim for the shortcomings in their lives. Then he begins controlling other aspects of her life: financial control, when she can eat, whom she can contact, her means of transportation, etc. Not every woman gets out before the physical abuse starts, but some do, but not without hurdles to jump at every turn.
During the past year and a half, while families were told to quarantine and social distance themselves from others; alarming statistics have shown the increase in domestic violence cases (those are only the ones that were reported).
Alex is an excellent mother
Throughout the series, viewers see the true form of a mother’s love. Alex is an amazing mother who puts her daughter’s needs above all else. The bond that Alex and Maddy have in this series is absolutely incredible to see.
I couldn’t help but compare the unconditional love I have for my boys to the unconditional love Alex has for Maddy. This love is the basis for Alex to keep fighting no matter the circumstances. She loves her daughter. She wants her to have a better life than she did as a child.
Alex’s mother Paula (Andy MacDowell) has undiagnosed bipolar disorder and refuses to be treated with any form of medication. The viewers learn later in the series that Alex’s mother left with her in a similar fashion due to physical abuse from Alex’s father, Hank (Billy Burke). Therefore, Alex also cares for her mother during intermittent spurts in addition to everything else on her overflowing plate.
It is possible to get out
At the end of the series, Alex says, “The road to the top is long and zig-zaggy” in describing a particular symbolic mountain in Montana.
That line is also a metaphor for once the circle of abuse is broken. The road to the top is long and zig-zaggy, but it is possible. It. Is. Possible.