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Married at First Sight and Channel Nine is facing increasing pressure from viewers and former participants of the show, for the portrayal of 'toxic' relationships on air, with a petition circulating online gaining over 11K signatures.
The reality show has already received a flood of complaints via the Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and potentially faces an investigation by the consumer watchdog. And now, domestic violence groups have joined the chorus of complaints, slamming scenes as "harmful" and "triggering".
"The editing and messages of these shows are designed to shock, dramatise and expose the cast and misleads viewers about relationships and what constitutes a safe, healthy and respectful relationships," CEO of Domestic Violence NSW Delia Donovan told Daily Mail, adding that shows like MAFS can be "incredibly harmful" for viewers.
A change.org petition titled "Make the Nine Network apologise for failing duty of care" has gained over 11K signatures from people wanting to support Melissa Ambrogio, who is partnered with arguably the most controversial groom on the show Bryce Ruthven.
The petition claims Melissa and Bryce "portray an excessive amount of domestic violence (DV) signs", which "are not being handled by the network appropriately".
It goes on to state Melissa is being subjected to "mental torture", leading to a "distressing viewing experience".
Bryce has come under fire from viewers multiple times throughout the season, with many viewers calling out his "disgusting" behaviour towards Melissa, though she has repeatedly defended her 'husband' and the couple appear to have remained a couple since filming ended.
Social media erupted after Bryce placed Melissa in fourth during a challenge which saw the couples asked to rank each participant, as well as their own partners, based on how attracted they were to them.
Prior to that Bryce had already been called out for saying Melissa was "not ugly" during their honeymoon, when he revealed she wasn't his usual type.
The show has also been repeatedly called out for airing blatant gaslighting. But a recent episode which saw Bryce plant and unwanted kiss on Rebecca's cheek sparked a huge outrage.
Rebecca said she felt "violated" by the moment, with production of the show even shutting down for a day after the incident.
The recent episodes saw former participant Natasha Spencer speak out against production for not implementing trigger warnings before episodes or acknowledging potentially harmful behaviour that is being aired.
"Instead, they've normalised domestic violence on our screens. They've given people the idea that this is normal because it's appearing on our televisions," she said in a video posted on Instagram last week.
Natasha, who suffered a nervous breakdown during filming for her season, claims the network failed in it's duty of care towards her.
"They're not sorry. They're not following a duty of care... they're promoting [this] as a way of getting us talking and getting their ratings higher."
Channel Nine has been contacted for comment.
If you or someone you know is suffering from sexual or domestic abuse, don't suffer in silence, call 1800 RESPECT any time of day or night. If you're experiencing feelings of anxiety or depression contact Beyond Blue.
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