How Love Island 2018 Is Opening Up The Conversation On Emotional Abuse

Adam is a nasty piece of work, but domestic violence charities say his behaviour is indicative of something sinister.

If you’ve been watching Love Island, you’ll know that this year’s big villain is personal trainer Adam Collard.

He was originally coupled up with Kendall, then when she wasn’t going fast enough sex-wise for him, made moves with Rosie behind her back. And after he got with Rosie, he immediately started working on newbies Megan and Zara.

Granted, the show is all about such manoeuvres, but he’s not being honest about wanting to play the field – he’s making the girls believe he truly likes them, then leaving them in the dust once a newer, ‘better’ prospect comes along.

Things turned particularly nasty when Rosie confronted him (for the second time in the series) over how he had hurt her. Adam smirked throughout the conversation, rolled his eyes at her tears, told her she was overreacting, and said her insecurities had ‘pushed him away’.

The scene lead UK domestic violence charity Women’s Aid to say that there are ‘clear warning signs’ of emotional abuse in Adam’s behaviour:

In a relationship, a partner questioning your memory of events, trivialising your thoughts or feelings, and turning things around to blame you can be part of a pattern of gaslighting and emotional abuse.

This statement, along with Adam’s arc on the show, has opened up the conversation around emotional abuse in relationships. Speaking to STELLAR, Margaret Martin of Women’s Aid here in Ireland says that the organisation hears about instances of emotional abuse “almost every day”.

“Abuse is not just about a bruise, a punch or a cut,” she says. “It’s very hard to make sense of emotional abuse because it might seem trivial on its own, but all of these small pieces really count. What happens to women is their self-esteem is eroded and they become more isolated.”

Emotional abuse can range from being put down and criticised constantly, to threats, to different forms of control – demanding to know where you are and who you’re with at all times, dictating what you can and can’t wear, etc.

There’s also ‘gaslighting’, a term used to describe manipulating someone into doubting their memory, perception, or sanity.

Straight up savagery from Adam! ? #LoveIsland

A post shared by Love Island (@loveisland) on

It might seem crazy that any woman could fall for someone like this, but many find that abusers can be extremely charming and devoted early on in the relationship. “Women will say things like ‘I’ve never met anybody like him before, I’ve never felt so loved. I never felt like somebody was so interested in me’,” says Margaret. “That is a really satisfying feeling, and they don’t want to lose that.

“But if you look at the pattern, you’ll see that it’s a modus operandi. They’re not really interested in anybody else, it’s all about them.”

And as we’ve seen with Adam, it is a pattern. He’s blamed Kendall and Rosie for ‘pushing him away’ by being upset about the attention he was giving to other girls (which as it’s turned out, they had every right to be). When they’ve confronted him, he’s either dismissed their feelings or implied that they’re unbalanced, just overreacting.

“If you’re coming in with a legitimate position saying “I’m upset about this”, in a healthy relationship, somebody who is interested in moving on to a better place would listen to you,” says Margaret.

If you get that counter-attack you become defensive, and start thinking ‘Did I do this? Was it like this?’ And that’s really typical of women even who are very violently physically abused – they’re told ‘You made me do this. It’s because you’re not a good mother. It’s because you were out with your friends late at night. It’s because your clothes are too modest/too sexy.’ There’s always going to be something where the blame is projected back on to the woman.

Adam has now moved on to new contestant Zara, who has said she believes she can “tame him”. But, as Margaret says, that’s not always possible.

“There is this belief sometimes that love conquers all. If I just love him enough, maybe he’ll be able to change. The only person who’s going to be able to change him is himself.”

That’s something that is very much a part of the way women are socialised – our culture is to be responsible for relationships. We’re supposed to be understanding. But isn’t just about being patient, it’s much deeper than that. It takes time [to realise this] – people say, well why didn’t you just leave when the first thing happened? It’s because these things are so subtle, you’re trying to make sense of them.

Love Island viewers are seeing their own experiences reflected back on them in Adam’s behaviour, but the show itself has not yet commented on the reaction to his arc.

Margaret says it would be ‘very mature’ for Love Island bosses to make it clear that behaviour like this is unacceptable.

“Men need to know that if you’re doing these are the kind of things, it’s unhealthy. It comes from a culture of male entitlement. A relationship is always a two or three sided thing, it’s an interaction and not just one person dominating. And it’s unhealthy if that’s the case.”

For more information on emotional abuse, check out Too Into You, a site run by Women’s Aid dedicated to dating abuse. And if you need to talk, the Women’s Aid helpline is open 24hrs at 1800 341 900.


Have your say

More like this