'I Am… Nicola' Might Be Hard To Watch But This Is Why It’s So Important That You Do
When Vicky McClure uttered the words: "This isn't what love should feel like, Adam. This isn't it," in last night's episode of I Am... Nicola, it struck a chord with viewers all around the country.
I Am... Nicola is one of three installments of Channel 4's new anthology drama, which comprises separate stories around three very different issues experienced by women all over the world.
Directed by the Bafta-winning Dominic Savage, what makes this show so unique is that the scripts were completely improvised, with the actors drawing on their own personal experiences when playing their parts.
And maybe that's why Vicky nails this role in the way she does.
As a hairdresser forced to come to terms with her partner Adam's - played by Perry Fitzpatrick - controlling behaviour, guilt-tripping and manipulation, the Line of Duty star is miserable and simmering in her resentment and jealousy of her friends' seemingly 'normal' relationships.
Subtle yet so important, Adam's manipulative ways are displayed in the most mundane ways: her gym leggings are too tight, she doesn't need to go for a drink after work with her friends because she "sees them at work all day anyway", she's "silly" for suggesting they should do more things together. Sound familiar?
What we know is that his behaviour is a form of "coercive control", the emotional manipulation, the erosion of a loved one's mental freedoms and the wearing down of a psyche.
While it's never insinuated that Adam has ever hit Vicky, that narrative is always simmering at the sidelines, the feeling that things could explode at any second.
The thing about I am... Nicola is that it's so identifiable, and viewers have been taking to Twitter to share their feelings on the emotionally draining episode.
"Superbly acted by them both. Can't help thinking about all those watching thinking 'this is me' posted one user, while another said: "#IAmNicola is an uncomfortable watch but if it helps people realise they are in a coercive control relationship then it has worked."
"Nicola's right: this isn't what love should feel like. Controlling your partner, making her feel guilty for being who she wants to be, doing what she wants to do, and going where and when she wants to go - is abuse.
"Choose to stop. Respect helpline: 0808 802 4040" tweeted Make a Change.
Nicola's right; this isn't what love should feel like. Controlling your partner, making her feel guilty for being who she wants to be, doing what she wants to do, and going where and when she wants to go - is abuse. Choose to stop. Respect helpline: 0808 802 4040 #IAmNicola
- Make a Change (@MakeaChangeDA) July 23, 2019
Another tweeted: "Reckon both ben and women will be able to relate to #IAmNicola even if you're in denial take a step back and realise #coercivebeahviour is not right either way.
"If you are the victim or the person acting it out...get help now."
"When you're in it, you don't really know it's happening, until someone on the outside points it out, and then it's too late as they've sucked every bit of energy our of you and you lose all your confidence. That was a brilliant bit of telly," said another.
It's not that Nicola isn't aware of her situation - "I'm not gonna lie. It's weird. Alarm bells ring," she tells Adam during one of his desperate apologies - but it's taking that one big step she knows she needs to take that proves so difficult.
Especially when he threatens to kill himself as soon a she leaves to spend the night at her mums.
It might be a difficult watch, but I Am... Nicola is one that's so important we all watch, as it shines a light on all those victims of domestic abuse who, like Nicola, see no way out, but hopefully it might help give them the courage to act.
I Am continues on July 30 at 10pm on Channel 4 with I Am Kirsty
Featured Image Credit: Channel 4