‘Intervention,’ ‘Hoarders,’ Now ‘Abusers?’ Has Reality TV Gone Too Far?

Look, we all have a little bit of a schadenfreude hard-on for watching people go through worse experiences than us. It’s a way we can evaluate our own lives after a particularly shitty day and go “Well, at least I’m not huffing Dust-Off.” That’s why shows like Intervention and Hoarders strike a chord with us: particularly the latter, since we don’t even feel that twinge of guilt of watching someone drinking themselves to death, just a sort of morose fascination with how a person could store up 20 years of kitty poop in their garage.

But The Frisky got a hold of press release today about a new show Abusers that’s about…you guessed it, domestic violence. And we’re starting to feel icky all over again. Although it doesn’t seem to have been picked up by a network yet, we understand that the people behind the show are doing it for what they believe are the right reasons: “…the creative team includes Ashley and Josh from “The Real World: D.C.”, who both experienced domestic violence in their homes. Abusers and victims who participate on Abusers will be given free online degree programs through the University of Phoenix.”

Leaving aside what you can get a degree for free after being on a show about domestic violence, these shows always claim to help by saying “We’re letting people know they’re not alone.” Which may be true, but is not the reason 99 percent of Americans tune in to the program: they are there to watch the show like it was Cops. And to advertisers, those people aren’t seperated from the people who watch the show for the “right” reasons, meaning the money comes in regardless of whether these shows are helpful or exploitative (or both).

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    • Tami Outterbridge

      I’m Tami Outterbridge. Along with Show Creator, Albert Harris Jr., I’m the Co-Creator of the show “ABUSERS.” I wanted to comment on some of the concerns regarding how the topic will be handled.

      The participants of the show are not being set up to be humiliated, ala shows like Jerry Springer or even Cheaters. We will not be showing a woman being dragged down the hallway, or getting pummeled by her boyfriend or husband. What we WILL be showing is family members, friends and loved ones who are honest and transparent about what’s occurring in the life of the abused person – and who care enough to ask for help. Viewers will experience the life of the abused person before and after an actual intervention that takes place to get them out of a dangerous situation.

      As a survivor of domestic violence myself, I have an extreme sensitivity to how the topic of domestic and intimate violence is handled.

      The fact that we are providing counseling, therapy and resources in the lives of “abusers,” as well, is huge. This is being done to break the repetitive cycle of violence.

      As we talk to domestic violence organizations and workers around the country, that is one of the aspects of the show that they find the most encouraging – the fact that work is being done also in the life of the abuser.

      We wanted to get people talking and caring about domestic violence and how many people are affected by it. That is beginning to happen on a large scale already.

      Thanks, everyone, for chiming in.

    • Supporter

      Well put!! I’m a male and you have my support and my friends 100%

    • Terri Pease

      It will be interesting to follow this show as it develops. One encouraging sign– the title is “Abusers,” making it clear that the accountability and responsibility rests with the perpetrator of DV, not with the victim. If it were called “Couples” I’d be worried.