On Sunday night, Married at First Sight Australia 2022 bride Holly Greenstein left the show after a tumultuous three weeks in the experiment.
Despite having high hopes for her union with Texan groom Andrew Davis, things quickly crumbled.
Over the course of 13 episodes, viewers watched on as the 36-year-old was repeatedly put down by her husband, often for reasons beyond her control.
**Content Warning: the following discusses domestic abuse and may be distressing to some readers.
Now, Carly Hancock, a member of the So Dramatic! Podcast Facebook Group, has highlighted how “terrifying” Holly’s experience on Married at First Sight has been, and why dismissing her “trauma response” comes with its own inherent issues.
Here’s her open letter:
A Note About Holly
All week I’ve listened to Holly be presented as “hysterical”, “irrational”, “too much”, and “she’s a lot”.
Holly’s experience is an excellent example of good old victim-blaming and domestic violence.
Whilst I completely acknowledge that we haven’t seen close to everything that’s happened, here’s my take.
Unashamedly criticising someone’s performance in bed after your first sexual encounter (as strangers) on a national stage, in front of a camera crew, is emotional abuse.
Expecting someone to “perform” to your sexual tastes the first time you have sex with them is not only a completely unrealistic expectation, but it also reeks of an entitlement to criticise and an entitlement to sexual gratification.
To then feel there is nothing wrong with callously delivering this criticism and then expecting the person to “forgive you” is tone-deaf at the very least and misogynistic at best. At no point did we hear Andrew’s efforts to learn what she liked, to make her comfortable with him, to acknowledge they were learning about each other.
Instead, there was the comparison to other sexual partners who have been “more into him” than she was. In other words — willing to perform the way he wanted them to, in a way that stroked his ego and validated his sexual prowess in the bedroom. After all, he’s had plenty of practice and has a penis, so this must translate to knowing how to use it to gratify his partner. 350 other women enjoyed it — so why didn’t you?
The message this sends? Something must be wrong with YOU, Holly.
“Holly Was Vulnerable”
Aside from the many other times Andrew gaslit his TV wife by pretending he’d done nothing wrong — by trying to convince others he’s a great dad because he misses his child while simultaneously treating adult versions of his daughter like toys he is entitled to own and enjoy — he has systematically broken down this woman’s confidence both sexually and as a person. She’s now vulnerable and easy prey.
Holly was vulnerable to admit she wanted a family. Andrew then used her deepest fear as a way to reject her and made her feel like she was asking too much of someone. Holly’s face, when she was trying to understand what on earth was going on, is painfully clear when you recognise she is being gaslit.
Someone is telling her she is expecting too much, despite her never actually saying she was expecting something from that person in the first place.
He broke down her friendships by manipulating the other participants into believing he had tried his hardest to make things work and just couldn’t do anything right. Isolation is an associate of domestic violence. When men isolate women, it’s easier to use violence against them because their safety network in which they seek help, doesn’t exist anymore.
“Taking Away Someone Else’s Right to the Conversation is the Best Form of Aggression”
Andrew constantly delivered the message that what he had to say was more important than what she did. He cut her off, talked over her, walked out of the room.
Taking away someone else’s right to the conversation is the best form of aggression, because the other person then has nothing to do with all the emotion except explode.
“She has anger issues.”
She becomes so upset that she can’t communicate properly.
She’s so confused by what’s actually happening to her that she can’t understand why others can’t see it.
As a result, we pathologise her trauma response. She’s unwell, she’s unhinged. She’s a lot, full-on, unbalanced. Holly’s rude because she didn’t say hello to him. She’s childish because she moved her chair away, even if it’s her means of reclaiming a tiny bit of power.
Holly is reacting to her experience of trauma. A normal response to very abnormal circumstances.
She’s a victim of violence. Gaslighting is a direct form of emotional abuse. Ladies and gents, we just watched a man systematically strip down a woman’s confidence, degrade her, psychologically manipulate her, made her question her reality, and isolate her from her safety network in three weeks.
Imagine what he could have done in 12 months.
This is terrifying.
Words by Carly Hancock.
Watch Married at First Sight Australia on Sundays at 7.00 pm and Monday – Wednesday at 7.30 pm on Channel Nine.
Want even more goss? Listen to episode 152 of the So Dramatic! podcast with Megan Pustetto below!
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