Domestic Abuse ‘Knows No Boundaries’
Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi’s marriage has hit the headlines this week, amongst claims that Saatchi grabbed Nigella by the neck a number of times when dining at a top London restaurant, while ‘shocked’ onlookers watched her crying and trying to pacify him. Metro has reported that Nigella was extremely upset and looked scared, and have quoted one of Lawson’s previous references to her husband as ‘an exploder’. Although there is much speculation around what actually happened, which is currently under investigation, there is no denying the fact that domestic abuse is occurring in any number of households on a daily basis. This incident has served to re-highlight the fact that many people are suffering, and suffering in silence.
Domestic abuse can take on many forms – physical, emotional, sexual, neglect, financial – and happens across social classes, cultures and races; a spokeswoman for Refuge, speaking on Channel 5 News in relation to the Saatchi-Lawson incident, reinforced that domestic abuse ‘knows no boundaries’, and that there is no particular ‘type’ of person that it affects. Abusers often isolate their partners in the first instance, and may cut them off from their friends, family, money and work. An abusive partner may twist what you say to make you appear paranoid or ‘overly emotional’, and may make you feel as if it is your fault that they lashed out, degraded you or insulted you. Abusers often appear charming to others around them, which serves further twist reality, and can leave you feeling isolated, hopeless or even mad.
It’s not only women who are affected: one in three victims of domestic abuse is male. Over recent months Corrie fans watched as Tyrone Dobbs became a victim to both physical and emotional abuse from his partner, Kirsty, and saw how hard it was for Tyrone to be believed. Unfortunately, this is far too often the case with men who experience abuse, but people are speaking out and it is making a difference. The Independent ran a touching report on cases of male survivors of domestic abuse, with Dave, Kieron and Tim (names have been changed) talking about their experiences. “As a man, it’s very difficult to say you’ve been beaten up,” said Dave. “It seems like you’re the big brute and she’s the daffodil, but sometimes it’s not like that.”
A number of celebrities have talked about their experiences of domestic violence, including the late Whitney Houston, actress Halle Berry and singer Rihanna, but the scars of abuse are not always physical. Fewer people tend to speak out about psychological and emotional abuse, although Anna Larke did when she broke the silence surrounding her ‘prolonged campaign of harassment’ (The Guardian) at the hands of Justin Lee Collins last year. This, in no way, suggests that these forms of abuse are any less severe or significant, or should be taken any less seriously.
Domestic abuse, in all its forms, is incredibly complex. It can be difficult face the realisation of what is happening, and people experiencing any form of abuse may feel confused about loving their abuser. It can be difficult – or even dangerous – to try and leave, and it may be that you can’t access money or support. Perhaps it’s too hard to talk to friends or family, and you feel you have no-one to turn to. Here, at The Grove, we will witness your story and provide a safe environment where you can explore what is happening in a non-judgemental and supportive space. Let’s talk first before you decide on what action to take, so we can work through this together.