Valentine’s Day: It isn’t always rosy

Valentine’s Day is typically a day where people show their affection for each other with cards and gifts. For survivors and those in abusive relationships, Valentine’s Day can be a difficult time. Society markets this day towards happy couples – with social media bursting with displays of affection and images of ‘perfect’ relationships. For individuals who are or have faced domestic abuse, Valentine’s Day can bring up some very painful memories.

Unfortunately, Valentine’s Day can be a key time for domestic abuse perpetrators to lead their victims into a false sense of security, displaying controlling behaviour, such as showering partners with gifts to make them feel special and loved. This is called ‘love bombing’.

Watching a film with a loved one on Valentine’s Day is a popular way to spend a romantic evening in. When we watch films, it is easy to get lost in the story and depict something familiar from our own lives, making you feel seen, understood and not alone. Watching stories that reflect similar issues and traumas to our own can have a similar effect.

Common tactics that perpetrators use include isolation and gaslighting, which can make survivors feel like they are the only person that this is happening to. Whatever the genre of film, those portraying domestic abuse can reassure survivors that their own situation is wrong and encourage them to speak out and get help.

10 films that accurately portray domestic abuse

Many couples like to snuggle up and watch a film together on Valentine’s Day, so we have compiled a list of 10 films that accurately portray domestic abuse, which can help survivors to feel seen and recognise that they’re not alone and their story is unfortunately more common that they realise.

1 – What’s Love Got to Do with It (1993)

This is the renowned story of Tina Turner’s rise to fame and how she gained the courage to break free from ger abusive husband, Ike Turner.

[Starring Angela Bassett, Laurance Fishburne, RaéVen Kelly, Virginia Capers]

2 – Sleeping with the Enemy (1991)

A young woman fakes her own death in an attempt to escape her nightmarish marriage, but discovers it is impossible to elude her controlling husband.

[Starring Julia Roberts, Patrick Bergin, Kevin Anderson, Elizabeth Lawrence]

3 – Enough (2002)

After running away fails, a terrified woman empowers herself to battle her abusive husband.

[Starring Jennifer Lopez, Billy Campbell, Tessa Allen, Juliette Lewis]

4 – The Color Purple (1985)

A black Southern woman struggles to find her identity after suffering abuse from her father and others over four decades.

[Starring Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, Margaret Avery]

5 – I, Tonya (2017)

Tonya Harding was a competitive ice skater rising above the ranks in the US Figure Skating Championships, but her future is thrown into doubt when her ex-husband intervenes.

[Starring Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney]

6 – Madea’s Family Reunion (2006)

Part of the popular comedy franchise by Tyler Perry, there are serious moments in Reunion. Once of Madea’s nieces is being abused by her fiancé and tries to hide it, and another niece is abusive towards her children.

[Starring Tyler Perry, Blair Underwood, Lynn Whitfield]

7 – This Boy’s Life (1993)

This is a story about the relationship between a rebellious 1950s teenager and his abusive stepfather, based on the memoirs of writer and literature professor Tobias Wolff.

[Starring Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Barkin]

8 – Safe Haven (2013)

A young woman with a mysterious past lands in Southport, North Carolina where her bond with a widower forces her to confront the dark secret that haunts her. Touching on a domestic abuse survivor resorting to violence to escape.

[Starring Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel, Cobie Smulders]

9 – A Star is Born (2018)

A musician helps a young singer find fame as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral as he battles his addictions that abuse can’t be blamed on.

[Starring Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliot]

10 – Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)

Based on a novel by Fannie Flagg, this film handles loss, friendship, heartbreak, and domestic abuse. The main character’s best friend is being abused by her husband who then tries to steal his child, which doesn’t end well.

[Starring Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart Materson]


How many of these have you seen and have they made you think about your own situation?

Are you ready to be seen and heard? You are not alone, we are here for you, so please do get in touch with us.