This post discusses abusive relationships and might be triggering for some readers.
I, like many Australians, have spent four out of seven of my nights over the past few months watching the absolute roller coaster of trash TV that is Married at First Sight. I, like many Australians, have been absolutely harrowed by watching the relationship between Bryce and Melissa.
There have been nights where I have teared up in frustration watching a man who seemingly has little to no regard for the people around him, particularly females, gaslight his partner, as well as throw a glass of water at another contestant. I have hoped each week that she will finally see the light and write 'Leave'. And I have had to fight the niggling question at the back of my mind: "Why is she staying?"
I, like many Australians, need to do better.
Watch: The trailer for the MAFS reunion dinner party and finale. Post continues after video.
There have been tweets and articles to the tone of, "oh Melissa, I have no sympathy for you anymore". So, essentially, you deserve what you get. But why are we so obsessed with why she’s staying and not as obsessed with why he is behaving in this way? Why he feels the need to control and manipulate his partner in such a damaging way?
We have seen this rhetoric time and time again in the media and in cases of domestic violence, when a woman is killed at the hands of her partner (which occurs on average once a week in Australia).
We ask ourselves, why didn’t she leave earlier? When a loved one stays in a bad or even an abusive relationship, we become frustrated and our sympathy wanes and we beg them to just leave.
From my own experience of this, these questions don’t help, because often we don’t know ourselves. And often, we can’t understand how bad the situation is until we've left it and have some perspective. This is because in our world, the behaviour has become normalised.
As I grappled with my situation a friend once said to me: "I can’t talk to you about him anymore because I think it enables you". In short, you have made your bed. Now lie in it. Alone.