HBO’s Big Little Lies was, without a doubt, one of the most powerful TV shows to air in 2017: not only did it champion a cast of all-female lead characters (including Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley), but it also shone a light on a number of vital talking points – including domestic violence.
So it makes sense that the drama picked up a cool five prizes at this year’s Emmy Awards – and even more so that Kidman’s devastating portrayal of Celeste has earned her the title of Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series.
In the show, Kidman’s character appears to be a successful, confident and vibrant woman, with a seemingly idyllic marriage and family life. However, it later transpires that this “myth of perfection” belies the horrific abuse she suffers in private – and always in private – at the hands of her husband, Perry (Alexander Skarsgård).
Celeste’s story is not unusual – domestic violence affects one in four women in England and Wales alone, and statistics show that a minimum of two women are killed every week by a partner or former partner.
It is this point which Kidman seemed keen to underline when she stepped up to the podium to collect her much-deserved accolade.
“Sometimes when you're acting, you get a chance to bring a bigger message,” she said emotionally. “We shone a light on domestic abuse.
“It is a complicated, insidious disease, and it exists far more than we allow ourselves to know. It is filled with shame and secrecy, and by you acknowledging me with this award, it shines a light on it even more.”
Watch the moment for yourself below:
Kidman previously admitted that her work on Big Little Lies had a painful impact upon her.
"I remember lying on the floor in the last episode, being in my underwear and having just been really thrown around," she told The Hollywood Reporter, referencing one of the opening scenes of the final episode.
"I just lay on the floor. I couldn't get up. I didn't want to get up [...] I just felt completely humiliated and devastated. And angry inside,” she continued.
“I went home and I threw a rock through a glass door.”
There are many forms of abuse – and it is not always physical. Warning signs can include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Your partner constantly criticises, humiliates or belittles you
- Your partner checks up on you or follows you
- Your partner tries to keep you from seeing your friends or family
- Your partner has prevented you or made it hard for you to continue studying or going to work
- Your partner unjustly accuses you of flirting or having affairs with others
- Your partner has forced you to do something that you really did not want to do
- Your partner has deliberately destroyed any of your possessions
- You have changed your behaviour because you are afraid of what your partner might do or say to you
- Your partner controls your finances
- Your partner talks down to you
- Your partner has strong opinions on what you should wear and your appearance
- Your partner has tried to prevent you from leaving your house
- Your partner has forced you or harassed you into performing a sexual act
- Your partner has threatened to reveal or publish private information
- Your partner threatens to hurt him or herself if you leave them
- Your partner witholds medication from you
- Your partner makes you feel guilty all the time
- Your partner blames you for their bad moods and outbursts
- You are afraid of your partner
If you are worried that you might be the victim of abuse, it’s quite likely that you are. If these signs of an abusive relationship sound all too familiar to you, then get out of that situation as soon as possible.
If you have suffered from domestic abuse of any kind, visit www.refuge.org.uk for support and information. You can also contact Woman’s Aid here, or call the 24 Hour Freephone National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in sponsored_longform between Refuge and Women’s Aid, on 0808 2000 247.
Images: Rex Features