June 16

Nigella Lawson and Domestic Violence

Like most people, when I came online this morning I was upset and horrified by the photos of Nigella Lawson’s husband Charles Saatchi abusing her.

Upset that anyone has to endure someone humiliating them like that, and upset that nobody intervened. Worried about what happens in private if that happens in public. To allow such a cruel act to unfold in public, and then to allow Nigella to hurry away crying to a taxi.

How many of us would ignore this? Look away? Say “it’s a domestic”?

Whilst I feel horrendous for Lawson, and especially the humiliation she will feel that the incident is trending on twitter and sprinkled all over the net, I am glad that someone did take photos.

And I am glad it has opened a space for us to talk about the prevalence of domestic violence, both for women and men.

Lawson was clearly happily married to her first spouse, the late John Diamond. Yes of her current husband Saatchi she has previously admitted:

that she and Saatchi have fiery rows and has described her husband as “an exploder”.

She said in 2007: “I’ll go quiet when he explodes, and then I am a nest of horrible festeringness.”

At the recent ‘Prostitution Debate’, consultation for sex work in Scotland, Richard Lucas was adamant that sex work is inherent abuse against women; and that family and the married unit are protection for women. When an audience member stated that most child sex abuse happens within the home, than women are abused by husband and boyfriends, Lucas ignored the point.

The enemy within is more of a difficult devil to police. It doesn’t make good moral panics. Why aren’t the front covers of tabloids covered with the photos of women who have been killed by husbands/boyfriends/ex lovers in the last year. Why aren’t the disturbing domestic abuse statistics getting the media attention that glamour modelling is?

Domestic abuse is a subject society doesn’t like talking about. It makes people uncomfortable.

Twitter is full or remarks saying Nigella is a fool for putting up with her spouse’s behaviour, that she has to leave. But Nigella doesn’t have to do anything, it is her life. It is similar to the hatred Rihanna has faced for her on/off relationship with abusive boyfriend Chris Brown. Why do we blame the victim?

Having had friends that have been involved in abusive relationships (and look around, you will certainly know people who are affected by the issue, be it psychical, emotional, sexual, controlling behaviour) the worst thing you can do is say “why don’t you just leave”.

Domestic abuse can take place in subtle forms, or forms you don’t even realise are abuse until things escalate. Being overly clingy; not wanting you to have your own friends; giving you too much attention and making you feel suffocated and trapped; mood swings; not wanting to talk about your career or successes; dismissing your concerns. Financial abuse is a common tactic of abusers; and a reason why many feel they cannot leave.

To overt forms such of violence, verbal abuse, sexual abuse.

I hope if anything positive comes of this sad episode, it makes us all open out eyes to what is happening day in, day out all around us.

If this is happening to someone you know, give support, but not judgement.