The Day I Met The Girl In The Gilded Cage
I need to preface this week’s episode by saying that I have a very short list of dysfunctional behavior that I will neither tolerate nor excuse. The top three, in no particular order, are sexual predators, domestic abusers, and control freaks. Their actions are so intertwined that they can become indistinguishable from one other. They either prey on existing weaknesses or create weaknesses they can prey upon. I believe that people who exhibit these dysfunctions are broken people who are driven to break other people in an attempt to negate their own physical or emotional shortcomings. I do not believe they can be rehabilitated. While they may show remorse in the short-term, they will always revert back to their true character, if given enough time. I know this to be true because I’ve personally known victims and their domestic abusers. Now on to our regularly scheduled podcast.
I’ve never been interested in dramatic soap opera style entertainment. The voyeuristic aspect usually doesn’t appeal to me. But sometimes, in an age where reality is only a click away, it can appear without warning. Such was the case when I came upon a very popular social media streamer. Kaitlyn is a beautiful, smart, twenty-something content creator, who has a tendency to show off that beauty in very skimpy bikinis. She creates more content than that, but if you are a young man whose hormones run your life, the rest of the content is more or less irrelevant. She has mastered the art of one-sided conversational talking to an extremely diverse audience for extended periods of time. I can tell you from personal experience that having the ability to do this is not easy, but she makes it look effortless. More often than not, I find myself closing my eyes and listening to her. Her casual openness and natural ability to make people laugh is captivating.
One night in particular, I was looking for a little late-night banter between her and “chat” before drifting off to sleep. The conversation I heard was not what I expected. Kaitlyn was seated in a chair, talking to someone on her speakerphone. That was unusual because even reality has limits in the online world. Taking a personal phone call necessitates muting the audio to the stream. Allowing “chat” to roam free in your personal life can lead to ridicule and, in some cases, dangerous behavior by strangers. It only took a few seconds for me to realize why she had intentionally let down her guard. The voice on the other end was in an uncontrollable rant. She was sobbing. During my years in Los Angeles, a large portion of my professional life had been spent delving into the complexities of human nature as a magazine feature writer specializing in personality profiles. As a result, I pride myself on my ability to tell the difference between truth and an act staged for my benefit. What was unfolding before me was not an act. What I was watching was painfully real. She wanted her thousands of viewers to bear witness to what was happening.
In order for you to understand exactly what was happening, it might be helpful for me to go back a few months. I had stumbled upon her stream while looking for an NFL football stream. It was my first time on this particular platform and they were both listed under the “Just Talking” category. When I came across her stream, she was talking to “chat”, her viewers, while wearing a bikini and drinking margaritas. This was definitely not the NFL. Quite frankly, it was all new to me and looked like fun. She had cameras inside her house and outside by the pool. I knew this wasn’t a soft porn site because this platform has very strict terms of service. This was real life in real time, being watched by more than ten thousand viewers. I was curious to find out why.
She was inside the house when her phone rang. She looked at the caller ID and muted the stream. After several minutes on the phone, she hung up and slowly tapped the phone repeatedly against her forehead, as if in frustration. After unmuting the stream, she explained that the caller was a family member asking her for money, which, apparently, was a constant request. Saying that she needed some air, she took all ten thousand of us outside. She was about to talk directly into the outside camera when, once again, the phone rang. This time, her expression became more sullen the longer she talked on the phone. When I looked into her eyes, I saw a scared little girl lost. A few minutes later, still talking on the phone, she got up and walked into the house. I continued working at my desk as I awaited her return. When she didn’t return within a reasonable amount of time, I chalked it up to too many margaritas and turned off the stream.
I now believe that the person ranting on the phone is the same person who had called her a few months earlier. Apparently, he is her husband and manager. It also became apparent that, in his mind, she is nothing more than the means to an end. If he had his way, she would live-stream 24 hours a day. Streaming translates into money in the form of subscriptions and sponsors. And it can make you a lot of money. But money won’t buy happiness if you’re a girl in a gilded cage. Kaitlyn does all the heavy lifting and if she protests even the slightest bit, her control freak husband constantly threatens to give away their money… or worse. Although he has control of these accounts, this is probably an empty threat because he won’t shoot himself in the foot. I did a little research and found a photo of him in a cosplay arachnid superhero costume. From what I could hear of him on the phone, it would have been more appropriate for him to be wearing a piss-ant costume.
What put Kaitlyn over the edge, and rightfully so, was when this tiny piss-ant threatened to kill her dogs. That may or may not have been a viable threat because it would have only hurt her, not him. Control freaks see their victims as subservience slaves. In Kaitlyn’s case, she is his meal ticket. It would do my heart good to watch him starve.
I have created a metaphorical deep hole in the ground for societal deviants like him; a place where people who prey on those unable to help themselves can be dropped into and forgotten about. It is a hole reserved for those who create virtual prisons within the minds of their victims through isolation, physical and psychological torture. In Kaitlyn’s case, it was sleep deprivation and constant degradation. The torture worked until he crossed a line by threatening to kill her dogs, which happened to be the exact moment I opened her stream.
This story has a happy ending, of sorts. Three days have passed, and I’m currently watching Kaitlyn stream a day with her horses. Her streams are less frequent and will probably remain that way for a while. Legal and psychological help is being fast-tracked. Both will probably be painful. The latter will be long term but, in time, the past will become a manageable memory.
The majority of domestic abuse situations do not end well. As far as I know, Kaitlyn only suffered psychological abuse. This was probably by design. You don’t want to physically damage the merchandise when the merchandise means money in your pocket. Unfortunately, domestic abuse is more commonly manifested in physical abuse.
The statistics are staggering. In the United States, a woman is a victim of domestic physical abuse every 9 seconds. Three women are murdered by husbands or boyfriends every single day. Globally, more than one in three women has been physically or psychologically abused during her lifetime and 55 to 95% of them will never report the abuse to authorities. For example, despite being illegal in Gaza, it is not an uncommon practice for Palestinian men to physically and psychologically abuse wives who have had mastectomies as a result of cancer treatment. These women begin to view themselves as damaged goods, no longer desirable by any man. Because of this belief, they quietly remain in the abusive situation. Perhaps the most unsettling statistic of all is that an estimated 10 million children witness domestic violence each year. This is an especially frightening statistic because experts suggest that witnessing violence in the home breeds Violent Behavior. Men who grow up in abusive households are two times more likely to abuse their significant others.
Although Kaitlyn managed to escape her gilded cage and is on the path to regaining control of her life, she was fortunate to have the wherewithal to find that path. A vast majority of domestic abuse victims are not in a financial position to break free from their abusers. As a society, we need to elevate the national conversation when it comes to dealing with crimes against women. In addition, we should allocate more federal and state funding for online and offline expansion of the practical and educational resources available to abuse victims. If we continue to ignore domestic abuse, it will continue to proliferate, creating endless generations of scared little girls lost.