This Free-to-Stream Documentary is a Harrowing Portrait of Torture and Abuse

Abused By My Girlfriend documentary

The BBC documentary Abused by Girlfriend chronicles a tragic story of intimate partner violence. The key difference between this doc and some of its contemporaries is that it profiles a male victim. That’s not unheard of, by any means. However, cases of abuse against men by a romantic partner tend to go unreported due to antiquated ideas about gender roles. But, Family Crisis Centers reports that as many as 1 in 4 men have experienced abuse at the hands of an intimate partner. 

With statistics like that, I think it’s commendable that Alex Skeel, the subject of the documentary, has come forward to tell his story. I can say, from firsthand experience, that it’s difficult to speak out when it comes to intimate partner abuse. Victims often feel a sense of shame and humiliation and tend to keep quiet about what they endure. 

Alex suffered through various forms of mistreatment at the hands of his girlfriend, Jordan. Throughout the documentary, we see home videos, police footage, and interviews with those who witnessed the treatment Alex endured. The police video of Jordan is especially difficult to stomach. She repeatedly downplays her role and seems to be nervously chuckling as she recalls stabbing Alex with a bread knife. In her interview footage, Jordan comes across as a proper sociopath. She seemingly shows zero remorse and appears to think she can convince the authorities it was all just a silly misunderstanding.

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Equally troublesome is the realization that the abuse started at such a young age. Jordan began her violent antics when the pair were mere teenagers. As is common in abusive relationships, the mistreatment escalated over time. It started with shocking outbursts of uncontrolled anger and quickly became more intense. At different times throughout their relationship, Jordan forced Alex to swallow an entire bottle of over-the-counter sleeping pills, made him sleep on the floor, denied him food, and beat him with blunt objects. By the time matters came to a head, doctors told Alex he was mere days from death.

As I said before, I have some firsthand experience with intimate partner violence. I haven’t spoken about it much. And even writing about it now is a struggle. But I believe these matters are important to speak to, no matter how uncomfortable.  

The abuse I endured was primarily psychological and emotional, with only a handful of instances of physical abuse. But Alex’s story resonates with me, nonetheless. The way he speaks of having to grapple with the idea that he was being abused in the first place reminds me of my own experience. I lived in denial for so long and dismissed the red flags and bad behavior because this was a person I loved. I refused to even consider the possibility that the dynamic was abusive.

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So I would rationalize and make excuses, rather than confront an uncomfortable reality. I would tell myself that people wouldn’t understand, so it was best not to tell them. I wholeheartedly believed that my situation was a special circumstance and that I wasn’t being abused, more so than I was in a complex situation that wouldn’t be easy for an outsider to comprehend. My partner would break my belongings, threaten me and others with physical violence, scream at me, berate me, gaslight me, manipulate me into submission, and even get physical on occasion. But I rationalized all of it. In fact, it wasn’t until several years after the end of that relationship that I could truly see how bad things were.  

That lack of perspective I felt is what makes intimate partner violence so terrifying to me. Love has the potential to warp our outlook and justify the unjustifiable. Alex avoided reporting the abuse because he believed it would all blow over one day. Although the mistreatment continued, he held strong in his belief that it would get better. Some of his desire to rationalize likely came from being isolated from his loved ones and losing perspective without a sounding board. 

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The lengths to which Jordan went to estrange Alex from his family and friends is stomach-churning. She would reply to messages as Alex and tell his family and friends that he hated them and wanted nothing to do with them. Moreover, she forced Alex to attend her college classes with her so she could be sure he wasn’t visiting his family while she was away at school. Additionally, she changed his phone number and cut off his PlayStation subscription to discourage contact with the outside world. Sadly, with no one left to turn to, Jordan was all Alex had for a support system. But thankfully, authorities eventually intervened and Alex was reunited with his family thereafter.  

Abused by My Girlfriend runs less than an hour in length but it feels much longer. The subject matter is harrowing and sure to trigger uncomfortable feelings. With that said, the picture paints an unflinching portrait of a brave survivor and should be seen by anyone with a strong enough stomach. If you’re interested in screening the documentary, you can find it streaming for free on YouTube as of the publication of this post.  



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