Tonight's episode of the "The Real World: Las Vegas" was no joke. Fueled by heavy drinking, resident live wire Adam lost control as his behavior quickly escalated from obnoxious to unsafe to downright frightening.
He spit, he screamed, he threw punches at the air and the walls, but when he smashed his bloody fist into a picture frame just above Nany's shoulder, things got all too real. Triggered by the circumstances and looking ready to fight if she needed to, Nany made an emotional charged confession--in her past, she had experienced physical abuse at the hands of an undisclosed man.
At some point in their lives, 1 in 4 women will become the victim of dating abuse, and though Nany fought the victim stereotype by insisting that she wasn't afraid of being hit, we echo Dustin's response: "That doesn't make it right."
So what can we learn from something so ugly?
Psychological manipulation and emotional oppression enforced by abusers often precede physical conflict and can serve as warning signs for abuse to come. Love Is Respect created a tool called the Power and Control Wheel, a diagram that helps identify these signals. We don't know the behaviors of Nany's abuser, but we can see red flag behaviors in the episode that are associated with potential violence.
Take It Seriously
The Vegas housemates handled the situation responsibly and compassionately and seem ready to set boundaries, making it clear that a) violence is not acceptable and b) Adam needs to be held accountable for his behavior. They stayed relatively calm, intervened when it was time to separate Adam and Nany, offered firm and loving feedback and never minimized the gravity of Nany's confession.
Tell the Truth
Adam and Nany both worry a lot about what other people think, saying things like "I don't want to look like I'm getting played," or "I don't want to look stupid." For those in abusive relationships, getting help will mean getting honest and being willing to change, even if it's not cute. It will also mean healthier, happier and stronger selves and relationships -- attributes that look good from any angle.
If you are in an abusive relationship or suspect that someone you know is at risk, contact the National Dating Abuse Helpline for safe resources and support on how to break the cycle. Remember, no matter what the circumstances, no matter what the backstory, nothing excuses abuse, nothing makes it right and there is a way out.