In the past week, the phrase, "cash me ousside, how bou dat?" has become a meme, a song lyric, a T-shirt slogan, a Bitmoji, and a very telling point about how our culture views domestic abuse. Let's back up a little: In September 2016, Dr. Phil [a US psychologist and TV host] had 13-year-old Danielle Peskowitz Bregoli and her mum, Barbara Ann, on his show because Danielle was stealing her mum's car and was "out of control". Actually, Barbara said she wanted Danielle put in jail or, as Dr. Phil succinctly put it, she "wanted to give up my car-stealing, knife-wielding, twerking 13-year-old daughter who tried to frame me for a crime." As Danielle tells her story, the audience starts laughing at her and she notices, saying, "All these hoes laughing like something's funny," and then the catchphrase was born, "Cash me ousside how bou dat." (You can watch the full video here.) She means, "She'll catch you outside to do what she needs to do to you," Barbara Ann translates. Where's the punchline? You didn't miss anything: The internet's just taken to mocking and appropriating a minor's violent threat.
"It's hard to label, because we don't know all the facts, but we know that when a young child acts out, those behaviours are usually a product of their environment and a warning sign that there's more to the story," says Bryan Pacheco, a spokesperson for the US-based domestic abuse hotline and shelter, Safe Horizon. "What has she seen in her life that's encouraging her to act like that?" The Dr. Phil video would suggest she's seen quite a bit, and Pacheco points out that her mum's antagonising language is concerning and could have egged her on — she calls her a bitch, a lot. The video was dormant for about five months until it resurfaced with memes ablaze, and pretty much everyone starting experimenting with all the different ways to use her catchphrase, "Cash me ousside, how bou dat." When the internet took the reins, things exploded, and it's safe to say this is probably the most traffic Dr. Phil's YouTube page has seen since 2006. People got poetic:
And someone wrote a trap remix:
Even Tom Brady used the turn of phrase to caption his Insta:
Jesus also took the wheel:
The meme has been hot for a little more than a week, which is an eternity in viral time. There was a fake story that was quickly shut down suggesting that Danielle committed suicide because she couldn't handle the bullying. Someone even launched a merch site with "Cash me ousside" T-shirts, tote bags, and throw blankets. There are even Valentine's Day cards that say, "Roses are red, your eye gone be black if you cash me outside, how bou dat?" While even the Dr. Phil show has its own issues (like most reality television, we can assume it's edited in a way that doesn't show all the facts, but rather a carefully curated puzzle of events), making memes and parodies of this teen's threats of violence normalises the behaviour in a dangerous way, Pacheco says. "It doesn't set appropriate boundaries, clearly it isn't appropriate, but if it's on TV it's something to laugh at," he says. Snowballing on the jokes isn't just a bad way to address her behaviour, it actually makes it worse. It's easy to laugh behind a computer screen, but there could be real-life consequences. Just today, a video surfaced on TMZ of Danielle punching someone on an airplane. "Not that it ever was a joke, but it shows what could happen to someone treating it as such," Pacheco adds. You should always be conscious of what you're perpetuating, he says. "If you saw this behaviour in real life with a family member or friend, it wouldn't be behaviour you wanted to nurture." He also adds that there's a layer of victim-blaming that goes hand-in-hand with the jokes, because many people are saying that there's something wrong with her parents — while that could be true, speculating doesn't help her, it just points more fingers.
In most cases, a child's violent behaviour is a call for attention and help, Pacheco says. They need a safe space — behind closed doors, not on national television — to speak with a counsellor who can get to the heart of what they're feeling or experiencing. "Any person who acts out like this, there's going to be more to the story." Also remember: Danielle is 13 years old. "The way a mother interacts with her daughter when she was six, her development starts there, but by the time she's 13 then the dynamics change because she might not be able to control them, or feel embarrassed by her behaviour," Pacheco says. If you notice this threatening language or behaviour in a friend or family member, use it as an opportunity to check in with the person. Every year in the US, more than 3.6 million referrals are made to child protection agencies, according to ChildHelp. "Don't laugh, use it as a chance to engage, because you never know what someone's going through — it could be a cry for attention or connection."
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247