Elisabeth Moss on the domestic abuse myth we all need to forget

Ella Alexander
Photo credit: VALERIE MACON - Getty Images

From Harper's BAZAAR

Elisabeth Moss isn't known for playing lighthearted roles, and her latest character in The Invisible Man is no different. The latest film remake of HG Wells' sci-fi thriller has a female focus, as Moss plays Cecilia, an abuse victim who manages to escape the house she house she shares with her terrifying ex.

A few weeks later, he is found to have taken his own life, but, after a series of frightening events, Cecilia suspects he is not dead at all, but has made himself invisible using advanced optics. Her theory is disbelieved by her friends and family, and the film offers a harrowing portrayal of how abusive men use emotional and psychological manipulation to control women. The trailer alone is a chilling reminder of the horror women suffer at the hands of their abuser.

It's a timely adaptation given the #MeToo movement, a time when our understanding of abuse is changing. Moss says the film forced her to reevaluate at her own beliefs surrounding women in abusive relationships and why they stay.

"There is a misconception that women who are in those relationships are not intelligent or strong," she told us. "It’s a bias that I even had to debunk within myself, that bias you develop even as a woman towards other women – 'why isn’t she getting herself out of that? Why is she putting herself in that situation?' It’s just not that simple and that’s a common misconception."

Of course, there are numerous reasons remain in abusive relationships, including fear of what might happen if they leave, trauma, shame, low confidence or concerns of isolation within their communities and families. It's why, Moss says, we must believe women when they share their stories of abuse.

"Why wouldn’t you believe someone if they say something horrible is happening to them? Why would they make that up?" she says. "There’s no reason for it, and there’s no harm in giving the person a safe space to talk about something. At the very least you’ll discover what the truth is. Maybe people are afraid to confront the evil that can exist in people."

She says the public's suspiciousness around women who disclose accounts of abuse, be it physical or emotional, is one issue that disturbs her the most. "It’s part of the reason why women haven’t been able to talk about anything for so long… it’s because we’ve had this sense that we’re not going to be believed," she tells us. "Creating a safe space for somebody, for a friend, a co-worker, a family member, to be able to talk about what’s happened to them, how they’ve been made to feel uncomfortable, or how they’ve perhaps been abused or violated is so so important."

Photo credit: Rich Fury - Getty Images

Watch Moss star in our new video series, Full Disclosure, from next Sunday, 8 March, where she'll talking about the tabloid scrutiny faced by women such as Caroline Flack and the Duchess of Sussex, what she thinks of red carpet political statements and the one piece of wisdom that Margaret Atwood gave her that she'll never forget.

The Invisible Man is out today, Friday 28 February.


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