Why Victims Return to Their Abusers

What Baby Reindeer got right about abuse

Kathy Parker
The Virago


Photo courtesy Netflix Official Site

ambivalence /ăm-bĭv′ə-ləns/ (noun) : The coexistence of opposing attitudes or feelings, such as love and hate, toward a person, object, or idea.

It is early, the only sound bird chatter as sunrise awakens magpies and honeyeaters and grass parrots to the new day. Fog rests heavy on the flats as shafts of light attempt to push through the dense grey; condensation creating miniature cumulus clouds from my mouth as I walk at pace, hoping to incite warmth into my bones on this late autumn morning. Crisp air rouses my thoughts from sleep; unwittingly they turn to Baby Reindeer, as they have so often this week. I cannot stop reflecting on the final episode; an episode my mind continues to flip and twist and pivot the outcomes of, still seeking closure in its aftermath.

Those who have watched Baby Reindeer know there is nothing comfortable about the seven-part autobiographical miniseries created by Richard Gadd that follows his relationship with a female stalker — a twisted connection that ultimately becomes the precursor to Gadd confronting the sexual abuse of his past. I would, in fact, consider it one the most confronting depictions of abuse, rape, and trauma I have witnessed; also the most honest in its razor-sharp accuracy of such things.