• Kristin Perissinotto

Convince your friends to watch See What You Made Me Do

This article contains talk of domestic violence and abuse.

Yesterday, the first episode of SBS' See What You Made Me Do was released, a deep dive into domestic abuse and violence in the home. The series is hosted by investigative journalist Jess Hill, and examines the fine lines between love, abuse, and power.

While these kinds of shows are excellent and a great tool in getting the public educated on important topics, I often wonder if they are reaching the right people. Activists and advocates will be familiar with the idea of going for the 'middle', malleable group when trying to make change. If you're looking to change the public's mind on an issue, you should spend your time speaking with the group who can be swayed. One part of the population will already agree with the issue, you don't need to spend time convincing them. One portion will be vehemently against and you'll never change their mind, but there will be a (usually large) 'middle' section that could go either way or be ambivalent. And those are the people you want to target.

Here's a list of 'sells' that you can use to encourage your 'middle' friends and family to watch See What You Made Me Do. Anyone can watch it for free on SBS On Demand, right here.

Comparing the indoctrination of American soldiers to people in abusive relationships

This is a powerful comparison that is likely to get through to a new group of individuals who may not understand why people stay in violent/abusive relationships. For the uninitiated (me), US troops were imprisoned and tortured during the Korean War in 1953, and when they were released, they chose not to go home, and instead stayed in China. It was later discovered that they were brainwashed and indoctrinated by Chinese soldiers. The show compares the plight of the soldiers to survivors of domestic abuse. The soldiers were not physically harmed, instead, coercive control was used, and the threat of violence was enough to control them. This is a technique often used by abusers.

The rundown on coercive control

Coercive control is a pivotal topic on the show, and the concept helps to explain the intricacies of why and how abusive relationships can happen. It shows how issues can escalate from the perpetrator asking for their partner to make a cup of tea to taking their belongings, following them, and controlling their every move. One woman, a survivor of abuse, is heard saying that she wishes her abuser would hit her instead of using coercive control because it would 'be easier' to get help, as she could show police her bruises.

'Paranoia' is based in truth and experience

The show features an interview with a staff member at a security company that provides an important service to women accessing refuge centres. They complete full checks of survivors' vehicles and devices to locate and remove any tracking or surveillance before they go to the refuge, as well as checking their houses for the same. The spokesperson for the company says that survivors are often accused by others of being paranoid. In reality, he says, they are not paranoid, instead vigilant. Survivors are labelled paranoid when they claim thier abusers are stalking or following them, but he says that's simply a reaction to their experience, as often times survivors report their abusers 'being there' wherever they go. The show discussed one abuser who was a qualified electrician and had utilised his skills to surveil his partner's car, phone, and home.

Using technology to control

Further to the previous point, the show delves into how often, and how much technology perpetrators will use to control their partners. GPS trackers can be bought by anyone online for as little as $9. The show follows a security professional who finds trackers on a survivor's car, on a child's toy, a camera in an air conditioning unit, and spyware on a phone and laptop. The tech is worryingly accessible and effective.

Conversations with parents of survivors

The show features interviews with the parents of two women who experienced violent relationships. The first is a heartbreaking conversation with the mother of a woman who successfully left her relationship, but is still experiencing significant impacts and is unable to live her life as she previously did. The mother reported raising her daughter to be a strong and independent woman. The second is the father of Katie Haley, who was killed by her abusive partner in 2018. He also spoke to The New Daily in a piece called Father tells: ‘Why I’m sick of hearing ‘not all men’ when another woman is murdered,’ which is a powerful read. They also interviewed Katie's sister, who recalled the abuse of Katie's killer, Shane.

Episode 1 is available now on SBS On Demand, and the next episode will be available on Wednesday 12 May.