Alia Bhatt’s Darlings Mirrors Abusive Relationships And Trauma Bonding

Darlings

Darlings is a tale of an abusive alcoholic husband, his home-maker wife whose life is a complicated mishmash of desperation and hope and their abuse-love relationship pattern. Consultant Psychologist Jaseena Backer talks about this abuse-love pattern or Trauma Bonding, the building blocks of the movie.

The movie was promised as a dark comedy, a genre that’s not widely explored in commercial films in India, but was delivered as a comedy of errors. 

The premises of the movie is domestic violence against women, yet it doesn’t suck you into the vortex of the context. A very sensitive subject sold through humor. 

The narcissist domestic offender typically oscillates between gaslighting and love bombing. A man you would want to hate, but the wife is convinced that things will change because he loves her and gives him multiple chances. She does everything in her kitty to make their lives happier. A textbook example of Trauma Bonding.

Consultant Psychologist Jaseena Backer’s take on Trauma Bonding

What is trauma bonding? Trauma bonding is the attachment an abused person feels for their abuser, specifically in a relationship with a cyclical pattern of abuse. The bond is created due to a cycle of abuse and positive reinforcement. 

Exploring the 7 stages of Trauma Bonding through Badri & Hamza. 

The alcoholic husband, Hamza is a wife abuser and the home maker wife Badru keeps believing, in a curdled mix of hope and desperation, that one day he will change and they will have a family and live happily ever after. 

Love Bombing

At the beginning of the relationship, Hamza showers Badru with excess love. Badru feels overwhelmed by his love and is convinced that she now owes him love or needs to do something grander for him. Hence, she puts up with the abuse and torture. This love-abuse relationship continues in a vicious cycle- first it is love bombing closely followed by physical abuse and mental torture and then again the ‘love’ resumes when the victim is hurt.

Trust And Dependency

Next, Hamza does anything and everything to win Badru’s trust when he feels he is losing. He thus makes her dependent on him for love and validation. 

Criticism

Once the trust is built then Hamza starts criticising her about everything. Yes, the stones in the rice were real. He subtly blames her for small things and then the bigger things. He drip-feeds Badru with negative thoughts about herself which she starts believing. And he always makes it seem like it is for her benefit and to protect her. “ I do it because I love you,” he says. 

Gaslighting

When things go wrong, Hamza shifts the blame to Badru’s shoulders. He makes her doubt her own perception and manipulates her into believing his narrative. It is easy to be sucked into his world despite her mother having her back. And he consciously separates her from her only support, her mother. 

Two contradictory things can’t be true; he tells her he loves her whilst also being abusive. Abuse and love are never two sides of the same coin; abuse cannot be love or vice versa, something that Badru fails to realise because of her love for Hamza.

Resigning To Control

Badru finally comes to a point where she no longer knows what to believe; reality is blurry. She loses control of her life and is being driven by Hamza. She gives up and starts doing things his way. 

Loss Of Self

Fighting was a lost battle so Badru started settling for anything to keep peace. She is constantly apologetic because Hamza has completely broken down every part of her confidence with each thrash of his.

Addiction

Along the road Badru becomes addicted to the highs and lows of his mood as she is constantly stressed and her mind and body craves for a dopamine boost. Thus, a dependency sets in which seems like any other substance abuse. She is in the exact position he wants her in; trapped. 

This aspect of Trauma Bonding is clearly shown in Darlings. This is why many women stay addicted to their abusers in relationships. This is prevalent not only in marriage but also in other partnerships. 

However, on the flip side netizens seem to be making a row over showcasing domestic violence against men, hope they realise that it all started as domestic violence and gaslighting….but against a woman! 

*Jaseena Backer’s take on this subject is based on her social media post* 

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