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When Love Becomes Abuse

Jeannie Gianni

Posted on March 2, 2018 20:18

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In the podcast "Dirty John" and in the movie "I, Tonya," both pieces touch on the power that love has in abusive relationships.

"I wanted to be loved. And I hoped it would work. So I took him back." 

Though this line comes from the movie I, Tonya, it is a classic common and heartbreaking quote of denial in an abusive relationship. I, Tonya shows the tragic power that love has over people. Tonya Harding was a young woman in search of love, shelter, and unconditional companionship. Fists, slaps, and hits were Tonya's formation of love. A mother has to love a child, right? So if Tonya's mother gives her attention through physical and verbal abuse then this must be the norm. This must be what it is to be a daughter: to be loved.

The audience sees Tonya's abuse grow from her mother to her first husband, Jeff Gillooly. He was her first love. The first young man to say the words, to give her the feelings and to embrace her when she desired it the most. With the love from her mother, the love from her husband starts in the same way. He hits her just like the way her mother hit her. Her perception of love, validation, and security comes from the people closest to her, and the people closet to her abuse her. How else would she have learned what a true and healthy relationship was like? Though I, Tonya is Tonya Harding's long-awaited redemption story, it is the depressingly common trap that ensnares individuals in systemic abuse. It shows the rage that cowardly, abusive men can gather in the blink of an eye. It shows how long people can take abuse before (or if) they realize their self-worth and leave.

Another piece of work that touches on the abusive power of love is the podcast, Dirty John. This podcast (and Los Angeles Times article) starts with a murder. Whose murder is it? You just have to wait and find out.

After the initial shock, Christopher Goffard takes his audience into the day to day life of Debra Newell a self-made millionare and interior designer.. She dresses in the finest of designer clothes, lives in the wealthiest of neighborhoods in Orange County and has successful and caring children. What more could she want? What she so desired and needed was the love of a man. She had previously been married and divorced four times, but she feels like she found the right man, her final Mr. Right, in John Meehan. Through the course of the podcast and article, the audience finds out that the good looking, anesthesiologist is nothing more than a con man. He has used and abused women across the country. Instead of listening to her family, believing the reports from private investigators, she follows her heart. As the story progresses, what ensues is the psychological trauma that abuse holds on its victim. Love can be the greatest sensation in the world, but, when it is connected to a villainous human being, it can be the strongest form of abuse.  

Jeannie Gianni

Posted on March 2, 2018 20:18

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Source: EW

In fall 2017, Christopher Goffard’s story of creepy con man John Meehan transfixed readers and listeners alike via a series...

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