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Domestic violence

Maid: Domestic Violence in Pop Culture

Last month, Netflix released one of its newest limited series’ – Maid. The show follows single mother and housecleaner Alex, as she escapes an abusive relationship while looking after her daughter Maddy. As a law firm that represents domestic violence victims, we are deeply aware of the painful realities of domestic abuse. We have helped countless victims in Las Vegas obtain protection orders and file lawsuits. So, after watching Maid, we’d like to provide a lawyer’s look at the show and local resources for victims going through similar situations in Southern Nevada.

Netflix’s Maid and Domestic Violence in Pop Culture

Domestic Violence Can Be Physical, Verbal, Mental, or Psychological

There are two key things to remember about domestic violence – it is not gendered, and it does not have to be directly physical.

Firstly, both men and women can be the victims and perpetrators of domestic violence. Secondly, abuse does not need to be obviously physical in order to constitute domestic violence. Some abusers may pursue emotionally manipulative routes, verbally assaulting a victim that depresses their self-esteem and ability to move forward. Continued domestic violence also occurs when the abuser manipulates the victim into believing that they are sorry, and the abuse won’t happen again. The perpetrator may further threaten to take actions that could harm the victim’s relationship with their friends and/or family members, and they may also have control over the victim’s finances or threaten to impact the victim’s job. In our experience, victims often hide domestic violence; they may not want people to know they are being abused out of shame or out of fear that things will get worse if they tell anyone what is going on.

Domestic abuse comes in many forms and often escalates. Leaving an abusive relationship is frequently difficult and can be dangerous. Intervention is often required to aid the victim in leaving the relationship and getting back on their feet after reaching safety. This is one of the toughest things to see firsthand as a lawyer, and it is no less easy to watch unfold on screen.

Verbal and Psychological Domestic Violence as Depicted On-Screen

One of the clearest examples in the show of domestic violence is in the pilot episode that kicks of the series. Alex, the mother and victim of domestic violence, experiences flashbacks to various acts of domestic violence that have occurred. However, she does not register that these experiences are domestic abuse, because she was not physically attacked or injured. As a result, she repeatedly claims she is not a victim of domestic violence. Alex does not believe, initially, that punching holes in the wall of the family home and throwing a glass that caused their child to have broken glass in her hair are acts of domestic violence.

As attorneys, we want to be clear: domestic violence is not just physical violence. Domestic violence comes in many forms. In Nevada, domestic violence is defined by NRS 33.018 and includes:

  • battery;
  • assault;
  • coercion;
  • stalking;
  • arson;
  • trespassing;
  • destruction of personal property;
  • other similar acts.

NRS 33.018 (1) further provides that domestic violence occurs between a “person’s spouse or former spouse, any other person to whom the person is related by blood or marriage, any other person with whom the person has had or is having a dating relationship, any other person with whom the person has a child in common, the minor child of any of those persons, the person’s minor child or any other person who has been appointed the custodian or legal guardian for the person’s minor child[.]”

Putting the above definitions together, due to the destruction of the personal property and assault (which is defined as “deliberately attempting to use force against a person or placing the person in reasonable fear of imminent bodily harm”), Alex would be considered a victim of domestic violence in Nevada.

Returning to the story, after the acts of domestic violence occur, Alex decides to leave the house with the child from the relationship. As she has no money for a hotel, she and her daughter spend the night sleeping in Alex’s car. The next morning, Alex goes to social services to seek assistance. During the interview, Alex is unable to accept that she is now homeless and that she was the victim of domestic abuse. The social services employee notifies her that, as she is not employed, she is not eligible for subsidized housing and/or daycare. Through an employee at social services, Alex gets a referral to a company that provides maid services. As Alex cannot afford daycare for her daughter, she is forced to leave the child with her mother, who is less than reliable and, seemingly, suffers from untreated mental illness. Alex goes to the job interview, is hired, and learns that the job requires that she pay for her own uniform, transportation, and cleaning supplies. The only thing provided is a Dyson vacuum.

When Alex returns to her mother’s house to pick up her daughter after her shift, she learns that her mother called Alex’s abuser and that he had picked up their daughter. Alex is forced to return to the home to retrieve her daughter. While there, her former partner gets verbally abusive, insulting Alex and her family, and asserts that, without him, Alex has no money, no friends, and nowhere to go. (This is a textbook definition of manipulation and verbal abuse, and it is also a shared experience of domestic violence among many victims). The only thing that Alex does have going for her is a means of transportation. However, she cannot afford the cost of gas for long and later ends up in a car accident with the child in the vehicle, rendering the vehicle unusable. This accident leaves Alex without transportation, without a place to sleep that evening, and in debt as the vehicle is towed and she receives a ticket.

Alex spends the little money she has left to purchase a new mermaid doll for her daughter. She and her daughter spend the night sleeping on the floor of the ferry terminal, where Alex allows herself to cry after her daughter has fallen asleep. In the face of such torment, does this not sound like the aftermath of a domestically abusive relationship?

Society’s Continued Problem of Domestic Violence and How to Get Help

Maid tells the story of a woman who, to protect herself and her child, leaves a dangerous relationship. Maid also discusses the struggles people face regarding housing, money, employment, and daycare when their lives are suddenly uprooted. This is a show about the growth and recognition of a problem in today’s society related to domestic violence, the limited resources available to those in need, and the hoops individuals need to jump through to access those resources.

Remember that, while Maid is about a female domestic violence victim, men can also be victims of domestic violence. This Netflix show tells the story of only one domestic violence victim among more than 10 million victims each year in the United States.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, please know that you are not alone and that there are resources available for you and people who care about you and can relate to what you’re going through. If you, or someone you know, are a victim of domestic violence, the following resources may be helpful:

Emergency Telephone Numbers

  • Police Emergency 911
  • Fire Emergency 911
  • Boulder City Police Department 293-9224
  • Henderson Police Department 565-8933
  • Ambulance Dispatch Center 384-3400
  • Las Vegas Metropolitan Police 229-3111
  • Poison Control 732-4989
  • North Las Vegas Police 633-9111
  • Nevada Highway Patrol 486-4100

Important Telephone Numbers

  • HELP Team for Homeless Persons 229-4348
  • Nat’l Missing & Exploited Children 388-2888
  • Mount Charleston 1-800-492-6565
  • Clark County Fire Department 1-800-843-5678

Domestic Violence Hotlines

  • Interfaith Hospitality Network 638-8806
  • Clark Cty Emergency TPO 646-4981 400 W. Van Buren, Las Vegas, NV
  • Clark Cty Court TPO Office 455-3400 480 W. Bonanza Road, Las Vegas, NV
  • Las Vegas Rescue Mission 382-1766
  • National Crisis Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE
  • Nevada Crisis Hotline 1-800-486-7282
  • St. Vincent’s Annex 384-0409 1526 N. Main St., Las Vegas, NV
  • SAFE House Crisis(Henderson) 564-3227
  • SAFE House (Offices) 451-4203
  • Salvation Army Shelter 639-1876 35 W. Owens, North Las Vegas, NV
  • Safe Nest Crisis (LV, NLV) 646-4981
  • Safe Nest (Offices) 877-0133
  • The Shade Tree 385-4596 1 W. Owens, Las Vegas, NV
  • The Shade Tree Crisis (LV) 385-4596
  • The Shade Tree (Offices) 385-0072
  • WestCare Youth Shelter 385-3332 300 E. Charleston, Las Vegas, NV

Other Hotline Services

  • Child Abuse Hotline 399-0081
  • Catholic Charities 383-0766 1560 N. Main St., Las Vegas, NV
  • Child Protective Services 455-5481
  • Mental Health Crisis Center 486-8020
  • Christ Church Episcopal 735-7655
  • Missing Children (NV) 486-3539 2000 S. Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas
  • Poison Control, Clark County 732-4989
  • Christ the King Church 871-1904 4925 Torrey Pines, Las Vegas, NV
  • Rape Crisis Hotline 366-1640
  • Senior Protective Services 455-8687
  • Community Food Bank 643-0074
  • Southwest Passage (Español) 631-8722 4601 E. Cheyenne, #111, Las Vegas, NV
  • Suicide Prevention 1-877-885-HOPE
  • HACA 486-6770 145 Panama, Henderson, NV
  • Suicide Hotline-Clark Cty 731-2990
  • Salvation Army Family Center 649-8240 35 W. Owens, Las Vegas, NV
  • WestCare Detoxification Center 383-3044
  • Weekend Emergency Assistance 383-4054
  • WestCare Youth Shelter 385-3330 1501 N. Main, Las Vegas, NV
  • Alcohol Drug Treatment And Referral 1-800-454-8966
  • Women, Infants & Children 647-2171 2220 Comstock Dr., N. Las Vegas, NV

Transitional Housing

  • Ashley House 647-2010
  • Golden Rule, Inc. 383-0847 624 E. Stewart, Las Vegas, NV
  • Project Home (EOB) 647-3307 330 W. Washington, Ste. 7, Las Vegas
  • Real Property Services Corp. 385-6935
  • Women’s Development Cntr 796-7770 953 E. Sahara. Ste. 201, Las Vegas, NV


  • Boulder City Jail 293-9224
  • Clark County Custody Information 671-3900
  • Clark County Detention Center 455-3700
  • Henderson City Jail 565-2028
  • Juvenile Booking 455-5450
  • Las Vegas City Custody Information 229-6429
  • Las Vegas City Jail 229-6099
  • Las Vegas METRO Custody 455-3900
  • North Las Vegas City Jail 633-1404
  • Clark County Housing Authority 451-8041
  • Las Vegas Housing Authority 386-2727
  • N. Las Vegas Housing Auth. 649-2451
  • EOB Housing Assistance 657-7816
  • Women’s Development Cntr. 796-7770

Child Care Information/Assistance

  • EOB Child Care Assistance 387-0985
  • Clark County CC Licensing (referrals) 455-3894
  • Clark County CC Assoc. (ref.) 734-0504
  • Las Vegas City Licensing (referrals) 229-6922
  • Nevada State Licensing (referrals) 486-5099
  • Clark County District Atty. 455-4204
  • Henderson Police 565-2525
  • Las Vegas City Attorney 229-2525
  • Las Vegas METRO (not DV) 229-2955
  • Las Vegas METRO (DV) 229-2690
  • Nevada Attorney General 486-3539
  • North Las Vegas Police 633-1751
  • U.S. Attorney General 388-6336
  • Victims/Crime Compensation 486-2740

Legal Resources/Services

  • Clark County District Court Self-Help Ctr 455-1500
  • Clark County Law Library 455-4695
  • Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada 386-1070
  • Nevada Legal Services 386-0404
  • Nevada State Bar Lawyer Referral 382-0504
  • Senior Law Project 229-6596

Immigration Assistance

  • Comm. Action Against Rape 385-2153
  • Compassionate Friends 456-0052
  • Catholic Charities 383-8387
  • Families of Murder Victims 873-5696
  • Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada 386-1070
  • Nevada Assoc. Latin Amer. (NALA) 382-6252
  • Secret Witness 385-5555
  • Nevada Legal Services 386-0404

Miscellaneous Services

  • Catholic Comm. Services 385-2662
  • HELP of Southern Nevada 369-4357
  • Jewish Family Services 732-0304
  • Henderson Allied Comm. Adv. (HACA) 486-6770
  • LDS Family Services 385-1072
  • Nevada Assoc. Latin Amer. (NALA) 382-6252
  • Lutheran Social Services 639-1730
  • United Way of Southern Nevada 734-2273

Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys at Roberts Stoffel Family Law Group for an individual meeting to discuss your next best steps.