How Not to Cover Abusive RelationshipsIf 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.