A Psychological Review of ‘Darlings’ and Domestic Violence

A Psychological Review of ‘Darlings’ and Domestic Violence

Darlings was an effective dark comedy that dug into the intricacies of the portrayal of domestic violence. While it showed the journey of a victim of domestic violence turning into a persecutor of domestic violence, it also explored emotional manipulation and the plight of Indian women staying in abusive relationships. In 2022, the National Crime Bureau released a report on crimes against women in India and ‘cruelty by husband or his relative’ accounted for the majority of the reported crimes. Along with that, spousal violence has been a reportedly increasing crime in India.

In Darlings, we see Badru being subjected to physical violence at the hands of her husband from the beginning. Let’s analyse deeper with a few observations here. Hamza was in a job where his boss would frequently make him do inappropriate and derogatory work like cleaning a toilet. This could have led to internalised frustration, anger, and dissatisfaction towards his boss and job. At the same time, due to his financial standing he might not have been in a position to resign. Since he could not take out his anger on his boss, he could be displacing that anger in the form of violence on his wife instead.

Secondly, he would frequently abuse alcohol before coming home or after coming home from work. Alcohol is known to reduce inhibitions and promote aggression. So, as we see he would more often hit his wife under the influence of alcohol than otherwise.

There is a scene where Badru attempts to dress up for Hamza to gain his affection; however, as soon as he comes home he instead starts to believe that Badru is having an extramarital affair and brutally abuses her. This depicts jealousy-induced domestic violence. Studies and data show that domestic abuse often begins with jealousy; and jealousy, suspicion, and obsessive control by the partner are early signs of emotional abuse.

Another point to note is how Hamza behaves nicely and tries to persuade Badru after every episode of violence. This represents emotional manipulation as a form of emotional abuse. Abusers often behave nicely with the victims using gaslighting or lovebombing or romantic gestures to engage the victim in the cycle of abuse. It leaves the victim constantly striving for that affection but being confused when they don’t receive it. This depiction is a representation of the cycle of domestic abuse, where the abuser after every episode of abuse tries to make it up to the victim. The duration of this cycle of abuse and consolation become more frequent and at shorter intervals as the abuse continues.

While the movie takes a different turn, we do see Badru’s mother urging her to divorce Hamza; however, Badru refuses to do so for half of the movie. This depicts the inability for women to swiftly leave such abusive relationships. Romantic gestures and apologies also make it difficult for the victim to leave the abusive relationship. Not only that, but the uncertainty of what lies outside the relationship, lack of financial stability, and an internalised feeling of “I deserve this” also contribute to the victim continuing to stay in the relationship. We also briefly see that Badru’s mother was also a victim of domestic abuse, which could contribute to Badru’s internalised understanding of “normal” marital behaviour.

Survivors of domestic violence often experience deep distress and emotional trauma. Counselling is a necessary and safe space for them to explore and heal from their experiences.

Add Your Comment

Schedule a Callback

    Fill out the form below to receive a confidential initial consultation with a callback.