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Domestic Abuse or Marital Tiff?

by Samantha De Bono

I don't know if you followed any of the Nigella Lawson story back in 2013 about her husband Charles Saatchi grabbing her by the throat during a disagreement whilst out at a restaurant together, but as you can probably imagine, it was of interest for me, given that I hold groups for victims/survivors of domestic abuse. In these groups I see people who have really been, or are still going through a really awful time in their lives with partners who believe they have the right to subject them to abuse. So imagine my dismay when I read Carol Sarler's piece on The Mail Online.

I was dismayed, but not surprised that this woman showed such a distinct lack of understanding about the abuse Nigella Lawson was subjected to. I have seen that lack of empathy so many times before and that alarming acceptance that it's okay to be treated this way.

What Carol Sarler seems to be caught up in, is the need to insist that Nigella Lawson isn't a victim. One does not have to have a persecution complex to be a victim, nor does a person have to lack strength of character to be victimised.

I don't doubt for one minute that Nigella Lawson is a strong, independent woman, but I also don't doubt, that at the time Charles Saatchi had his hand at her throat, that she felt anything but a strong, independent woman. In fact, I'm willing to bet, that at that precise moment, Nigella Lawson felt every bit the victim of that bully.

Of course I don't know what goes on behind closed doors in theirs, or any relationship, but Carol Sarler doesn't know either, so to state that "there is no reason to believe he has ever hurt his wife" is ridiculous. I totally disagree. The sense of entitlement Charles Saatchi displays in this public show of contempt and disregard for his wife, says to me that there is every reason to believe he has hurt her. A "battered wife" does not have to walk around with missing teeth to be afraid of upsetting a partner who is hell bent on power and control.

It concerns me when a woman in a position like Carol Sarler, believes that being grabbed by the throat is just a "marital tiff". What message does that send young people starting out in relationships? and for those whom have endured the torture of a bully for a prolonged period of time? It's women like Carol Sarler who encourage the silence that domestic violence lurks within. Why on earth would anyone speak out if they know they'll be considered a "pathetic victim" , "unable to stand on their own two feet".

Perpetrators of domestic violence reading an article like hers, must be feeling very smug in the knowledge that there is still women out there with beliefs that belong to Victorian times.

I've said it before and I'll say it again and again, NOBODY has the right to lay their hands on you, no matter how rich and powerful they are. Every one of us has a right to a difference of opinion, or even an argument without fearing it will turn into a physical assault.

Being grabbed, shoved, poked, dug, pinched ("tweaked" Carol) pushed, pulled, purposely made to flinch or duck, is not a tiff, it is abusive, pure and simple!