How Netflix Show “Maid” Compares to Real-Life Domestic Abuse Cases
Netflix recently released the show, Maid, which follows the story of a young woman named Alex, who has a daughter in common with a man who abuses her. The show, inspired by Stephanie Land’s memoir, has quickly become popular amongst Netflix audiences worldwide. Which begs the question—how does the show’s portrayal of domestic abuse compare to real-life legal cases?
As attorneys who have handled many Protective Order cases, we have worked with real people in Alex’s situation. In case you have watched the show and have questions, we want to give you our thoughts on how the show Maid compares to the realities faced by people who are in similar situations in Maryland.
The Financial Struggles
In the first episode, “Dollar Store,” we see Alex keep track of the dollars she has left to spend because her boyfriend, Sean, has kept her financially dependent on him. In our experience, this financial stress is very real for a lot of people who are trying to get out of abusive relationships. Lack of financial resources is one of the many reasons that it is difficult to get out of an abusive relationship.
In a Maryland Protective Order case, a judge can grant emergency family maintenance—meaning that the abuser can be ordered to provide financial support to people who the abuser has a duty to support. While there is no guarantee that emergency family maintenance will be awarded, it’s important to know that certain people have the right to request it.
The Lack of Abuse Reporting
Throughout the show, Alex is questioned by various people about why she did not call the police, go to the hospital, or file a report about Sean’s abusive behavior. While these kinds of questions are sometimes asked, in our experience, judges do not base their decisions on whether a report has been made in the past. Judges are trained to understand that most people who are abused are hesitant to take action that will be documented, for various complex reasons.
The Definition of “Abuse”
Alex is not sure that what she has experienced is considered “real abuse.” Though she has had dishes thrown at her and been screamed at in an intimidating manner, she does not seek any protection from the court. The social worker who she meets nudges her to acknowledge that she has been abused.
It is important to know that in Maryland, punches, kicks, and other physical contacts are not the only actions that fit the definition of abuse. In Maryland, “abuse” is:
an act that causes serious bodily harm;
an act that places a person eligible for relief in fear of imminent serious bodily harm;
assault in any degree;
rape or sexual offense or attempted rape or sexual offense in any degree;
Thus, if someone says or does something threatening, that makes you think you are about to be injured, then a judge could find that abuse has occurred. If the person for whom relief is sought is a child, “abuse” may also include the physical or mental injury of a child under circumstances that indicate that the child's health or welfare is harmed or at substantial risk of being harmed by a person with a certain specified relationship to the child, or sexual abuse of a child, whether physical injuries are sustained or not.
The Legal Process
In the show, Alex goes to court alone and tries her best to advocate for herself, but we see her get lost in the process, and she starts to hear “legal, legal, legal” instead of the words that the attorney and judge are saying.
Going to court is intimidating in most circumstances, and having an attorney to compassionately help with the process can reduce some of the stress and anxiety that a person who has been abused might otherwise feel. No one should assume that they must go to court alone. There are organizations that are devoted to helping victims of abuse, with legal representation, housing, and other resources. The attorneys at our office are also here to help, whether that is by providing representation ourselves, or by connecting people with other agencies that can assist them.
If you have questions about protective orders, please contact the Law Office of Laurie M. Wasserman at 410-842-1070. You are not alone, and we are here to help. An experienced family law attorney will guide you through the Peace and Protective Order process and ensure your safety.
Read Next: Domestic Abuse and Protective Orders
Disclaimer: Opinions and conclusions in these blog posts are solely those of the author unless otherwise indicated. The information contained in this blog is general in nature and is not offered and cannot be considered as legal advice for any particular situation. For legal advice, you should directly consult a lawyer to discuss the specific facts of your matter.
By reading this blog, you acknowledge that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and the author.
Any links provided are for informational purposes only and by doing so, the author does not adopt or incorporate the contents. The author is the legal copyright holder of all materials on the blog, and they cannot be repurposed without permission.