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Who would have intercepted for Nigella?

Out of the news and photos that Nigella Lawson appears to have been both verbally and physically threatened by her husband in public comes a pile of comments about how shocking it was that no one actually stood up for her while it was happening.

The thing is, even though I myself have been in a domestically violent relationship, and I’ve also experienced some public abuse in another situation, I am unsure I would intercept if I saw that behaviour.

I know from my own experience, that standing up for someone who is being a victim often leads to the bully or perpetrator turning their vitriol on me, or it means they may calm down, but take theeir abuse more privately, and abuse to a deeper level, because the other partner has “somehow” now been complicit in them losing face for a public loss of control.

I have walked past angry and fighting couples in the street. Just last week I walked past a woman in a supermarket who had a man next to her publicly berating her and telling her she was pathetic. I did slow down. And I looked back, and I did wonder what I could or should do.

A few times I’ve called police.

And sometimes I’ve just completely let it pass by me.

I know how it feels to be abused, and yet, I’ve not always stepped into the defense of someone else – because I have either felt ill equipped or sensed that my interaction may actually inflame the situation.

Abusive relationships are incredibly complex and can be difficult for anyone who has not lived in one to fully understand. A skilled abuser plays more with your mind than your body- and you become filled with self doubt, and empty of self confidence.

For a few, a person pulling them out of that will help. But the vast majority need to somehow see the true reflection of their relationship first. And then take themselves out of it.

While it was done to sell papers, the photographer who took those photos is my hero of the day. I can imagine for Nigella seeing the photos of her own terror and sadness would be a more effective shock to help her stand up and walk, than someone coming in to either break up the interaction by force, or come in with sympathy.

Domestic Violence is incredibly complex. It’s a dynamic that is all about cycles and patterns and yo yos and interactions.  We cannot do the work for anyone in an abusive cycle. It’s up to them to stand up and walk. Our job is to be there if asked for, and to be there when that person needs to know they are not alone.

Would I have intercepted for Nigella?

I’m not sure… But I know I am one hundred percent behind her finding her own power and strength in this, and making sure she becomes strong inside enough to not ever find herself in a place where someone she loves would ever treat her that way again.

About rgoodchild

Parenting and education coach, working primarily with ECE teachers, and parents of 0-8 year olds. Author of 27 published print titles, and a few e books too. Was a freelance writer Mother, business woman, entrepreneur.


2 thoughts on “Who would have intercepted for Nigella?

  1. Thoughtful piece Rachel.

    I was shocked when I saw the pictures on Sunday, and regarding one of your points, isn’t there a difference between not intervening on a verbal argument/abuse, and physical abuse? This case definitely crossed over to physical abuse. I’m aware that both are as bad as each other, however, in terms of public intervention, I think an actual physical assault, as this was, would have me intervening, whereas I would be unsure on an argument (in fact, probably wouldn’t).

    Fine line though.

    Mind you another aspect of your post has shocked me. I can honestly say I’ve made it to forty seven years old, and have never witnessed a couple rowing in a public place, as you seem to have on numerous times. I can’t immediately see your locale: is it Auckland? I live between South Canterbury and the Marlborough Sounds, both more sparsely populated rural areas, so I assume there different dynamics in operation.

    I’m glad it looks like Nigella is leaving him: you make the good point the photos would be a shock to her, plus given neither Nigella nor Saachi a ‘way out’: public opinion will hold him to account.

    Finally, another issue that I probably should broach with trepidation this close to the abuse, but when all the legal ramifications of this resolve themselves through ‘possible’ divorce proceedings, if it ever came to that (hopefully), and assuming two pre-nups, I think Nigella has, on top of all the other issues which come first, a bone fide issue of financial damage here in that ‘brand Nigella’ has been affected. I’m a foodie – that’s why I clicked in here from your tweet – the Food Channel plays in our house more than any other; I love her shows, Rick Stein, Jamie, Hugh, etc. Nigella’s brand is a particularly strong one: a joy in food, a certain care-free laissez faire lifestyle, (dare I say) a low level eroticism, sumptuousness, family (often has her two children in the shows) etc. I know when I watch her cooking shows now, my emotions will be much more complex, as the ‘illusion’ is broken, and with it the suspension of disbelief. … Um, don’t think I do know where I’m going with this, after all, other than Saachi’s damage, as with all domestic abuse, is wide ranging, and will affect every aspect of her life. I hope she is able to get over it, and keep the joy she plainly gets (and gives), in putting her shows together, and in her love of food.

    Posted by Mark Hubbard (@MarkHubbard33) | June 17, 2013, 5:57 pm
  2. Beautiful article – well articulated. I am completely shocked at the responses of the media to Nigella and this event, and I just hope that she finds security and peace. What a terrible thing to happen to such an inspirational person.

    Posted by eating4241 | June 17, 2013, 10:19 pm

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