“Who Knows What Lies out There beneath the Surface?”

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Abstract

This article studies the television show Big Little Lies (2017–2019) in order to showcase how domestic violence is dramatized as a complex and multifaceted phenomenon that lies in the matrix of multiple forms of violence and trauma. By examining the selected fictional narratives through the lenses of theoretical concepts such as the Power and Control Wheel, betrayal trauma, and insidious trauma, the article presents a discussion on the complex web within which domestic violence is embedded. Furthermore, the article relates the concept of monstrosity to domestic violence, which is discussed here in relation to a woman who had experienced an abusive childhood and a child character who constantly witnesses abuse to foreground the contagious feature of the violence that becomes an integral part of the family lineage. Finally, by discussing the notion of perpetrator trauma, the article states that not only the victims of domestic violence get traumatized but also the perpetrators themselves get traumatized by being the agents of violence. The article thus claims that its originality lies in the ability to foreground how the victim–perpetrator binary is problematized as we gradually unearth the underlying roots of violence.