I like many Australians watched My Kitchen Rules last night. I like many Australians was left feeling sickened by the emotional abuse being depicted on the screen. For those who missed the episode, Dee continually berated, blamed, and belittled her husband Tim. It was quite triggering and upsetting to watch given that Channel 7 had given no content warning and MKR had actually tweeted “Enjoy” about the episode. Domestic Violence is an important issue. Documentaries such as Hitting Home are important and educational viewing but they are not titillating and enjoyable. Nor are they marketed that way. Chanel 7 and MKR’s irresponsibility with their advertising and lack of content warning aside, we can still use this blatant depiction* of spousal psychological abuse to help educate and improve our own relationships. Let this episode inspire us all to give our relationships a health check-up.
Throughout the episode Dee screams at Tim. Every mistake is his fault. Even mistakes that haven’t happened are his fault. She interrupts him part way through processes to yell at him before he’s even made a mistake. Tim is clearly so stressed that he can’t even think. And then after screaming at Tim, Dee manipulates him with tears and cries to garner sympathy. It’s extreme. Immediate help and intervention is needed. But can you honestly say you’ve never yelled. Think of the last four weeks. Have you become so frustrated with your partner or kids that you have yelled at them? Sure, they were being annoying, sure they weren’t listening, sure there were plenty of other explanations, but have you yelled?
If it was because they had headphones on and a wave of lava was about to hit them you’re probably fine.
If it was at your partner because you felt they wouldn’t listen any other way does that seem healthy to you. Isn’t that a dynamic you need to discuss? You’re leaking rage because you’re feeling stonewalled. Don’t you want help to no longer feel powerless? Don’t you want your sense of self to be strong enough to withstand any perceived slight? Don’t you want a relationship where your needs are heard without you feeling like you have to lose control? Don’t you want mutual respect. Don’t you want to control yourself even when things don’t go your own way? Life won’t always go your way, it can’t. So it’s time to discuss this relationship dynamic with your partner. Think about getting personal therapy for your own issues and some couples counselling for the negative dynamic you are in. Relationships Australia can help. Your GP can help. Go get a Mental Health Check with your GP and get referred to a therapist. Not only does your partner not deserve to be screamed at, and if you have kids they don’t deserve to overhear it, but you also don’t deserve to feel angry and powerless all the time. You can change. No matter what your reasons, no matter what your past is, you can improve, and there is help for you. Seize it.
If it was at your children stop and think, is this the lesson I want to teach them? That might makes right. That screaming and terror is a valid resolution to a behavioural issue. Perhaps you think it is, but perhaps you feel like there is no other option and the yelling actually makes you feel stressed and awful too. There are programs such as Circle of Security and psychologists that can help you come up with alternate solutions if you don’t want screaming and violence to be your methods of discipline. There is help, sometimes it’s hard to see that things can be better in moments of high stress but they truly can be. You can be the parent that you want to be. Speak to your GP. They can help with so much more than a sick certificate. They are there to support you. Seeking help is not a weakness it is a sign of strength and a sign of making good choices.
Parenting is tough. Relationships are tough. Just being yourself is tough. There is help out there for you to be the best possible you. Please take it. Please seize it. Don’t live with self anger and guilt any longer. Don’t leak that rage onto others. Break the cycle. You just need to take the first step and seek help.
You don’t need to be an out of control spousal beater to want to change. Anyone can want to be better.
*I’m aware editing can make things look better or worse. Let’s still use this as a learning opportunity.