Sunday 16 June 2013

How Not to Cover Abusive Relationships

If you're yet to see it, the piece is very uncomfortable. Readers who've experienced and survived domestic violence might want to give it a miss, so keep that in mind before you click this link. But it's fair to say the photographs of Charles Saatchi gripping the throat of Nigella Lawson, pushing at her nose and reducing her to tears leave little to interpretation. No amount of context can spin this as anything other than an assault.

While some might be tempted to see the splash as a good thing, I don't think the Sunday People have done Nigella nor anyone else a service. While anyone with a progressive bone in their body would welcome the raising of the profile of domestic violence, in this case and for whatever reason, Ms Lawson has hitherto kept it a private matter. 

Until she and her husband were papped, that is. 

What Nigella must have felt while she endured the public assault must be compounded and magnified by the coverage. She now faces the prospect of everywhere being tagged a victim and, should she decide to refrain from commenting, or not leave Saatchi; Nigella runs the risk of being seen to be undeserving of support, sympathy and solidarity. In the delightful double standards of our culture, it's down to the woman to leave her abusive male partner - not the latter's responsibility to reflect on and address his violent conduct. Even worse, it's her behaviour that is now subject to scrutiny. For she will be persistently dogged by will she/won't she separation tittle-tattle and speculation. Far from helping Nigella, the Sunday People have put her under the kind of spotlight she neither sought nor asked for. Any agency she had has been stripped out as they've boxed her into a corner in which her every move will be scrutinised.

I'm no expert on this sort of thing, but surely this isn't the position you'd want to put anyone who suffers domestic violence in.


Bea said...

I hope that Pap took those photos then put his/her camera down and called the Police. But I doubt it as the level of morals in the paparazzi doesn't seem to be too high.

Anonymous said...

Phil, I disagree with some of your comments. The Paps did not put Nigella in this position but her abusive husband did!
If this mad man does this in public can you imagine what he does to his wife in public! This woman has nothing to be ashamed about as she has sadly married a self professed control freak who is probably a narcissist. The good thing is that his cover is now blown on a global platform and the whole world can see him for what he is. This exposure may give her the push she needed to get out of her abusive marriage or he may get help. Well done papsfor showing this creep up.

Alex Dawson said...

If this happened in public view, then I am not against the freedom of the paper to take the decision to publish, however unpleasant. Unmasking these pathetic bullying men for what they are is one of the best things that can be done.

Without the pics, it wouldn't have made a story. Would Nigella have reported her hugely powerful millionaire husband to the police to try to bring charges? Unlikely and even if she did it wouldn't go anywhere as Saatchi would have superinjunctions slapped down all over the shop. So the decision to publish them is a direct consequence of his position of power and his behaviour in public. I suspect he is so arrogant he thinks he can do this in public with no consequences.

At the end of the day, I don't think it is necessarily a bad thing to bring these things out in the open in this way. Seeing those pics made me, for the first time in my life, feel sympathy and compassion for Nigella Lawson - not something I would ever normally say about a multi-millionaire member of the elite. This helps show domestic violence is an issue that transcends the class divisions.

Phil said...

What I'm asking is whether it's a good thing for someone to have the abusive nature of their relationship splashed on a Sunday morning? I'm suggesting that it might not be for the reasons listed.

Alex Dawson said...

Of course, the motivation to publish will not be altruistic. Does The People want to put the boot into Saatchi and simultaneously sell lots of papers off the back of it? Certainly.

But what if the not-for-profit BBC had run this? Or, heaven forbid, the Morning Star? I suspect if either had the footage exclusively they would have run it too.

The irony of all this is that we're all looking at this on the internet as the People, as all newspapers, are giving away their valuable exclusive content for free and none of us examining this in such detail will go and buy the paper as a result of seeing it.

Gary Elsby said...

I love Nigella Lawson, regardless of her being mega rich.

I'd put a bun in her oven any day!

Phil said...

Another delightful contribution.

Gary Elsby said... you say Phil, you are no expert.
Too dumb to counter Loz and his 'rich girl' comment.

It is entirely up to Nigella on what to do next, not some DJ calling for a boycott of her books until she does it.

It won't be long before this blog starts to question why it is that 'celebrities' are our mass rapists deserving of even harsher sentences than most.
To teach the raping workers class a lesson?

Assault someone in public and expect to be hammered by the rule of law.

Expect Nigella to do what Nigella thinks is best and then re-read what you have recently put out about violent men upon defenceless women.


Phil said...

Gary, did you bother reading the post or were you too busy ogling Nigella? Your comment is suggestive of the latter.

Gary Elsby said...

Then you failed to spot my retort to your resident socialist contributor, Loz.

'Mega rich' is something that is the dividing line of male violence and socialism?

I have no contradictions in my previous posts.

I'm just bright enough and principled enough never to let my own guard and standards down.

Saying that, Nigella can knead my dough any day.

Down with gays, says the leading Labour spokesman in Stoke-on-Trent.

Be careful I don't win an election in 2013.
They hand you a microphone in these parts.......and I like a microphone.
Leading spokesman....beware.