Trigger Warnings

Some of my posts deal with rape and that means that bits of this blog may be triggering.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Domestic Violence victims still need to be perfect to be deemed "Real" victims

So the discovery that Nigella Lawson may not a perfect victim and therefore not a victim at all, has at last been made.  Allison Pearson in the Telegraph today (although one wonders why it wasn’t in the Mail, what with it being very Daily Mailish an’ all) declares gravely that:

“if the Grillo sisters turn out to be telling the truth… then Charles Saatchi may turn out to be the victim of an injustice”.

What injustice can this be?  Allison doesn’t say.  She only implies it. I presume she means the injustice of being thought to be an abusive man, because his wife is not the perfect victim and therefore he couldn’t have been an abuser, could he?  Here's the link to the article: Victim Blaming piece by Allison Pearson

That I think, is the confused thinking behind this vicious piece of victim-blaming.  You would think, wouldn’t you, that an educated woman with a column in a broadsheet, would have better critical thinking skills than this, but when it comes to male violence against women, many people’s critical thinking skills go missing completely.  Suddenly they’re straight back into the Madonna/ Whore dichotomy where if a woman doesn’t fit the Madonna stereotype then she must be the Whore and as such, can be justly blamed for whichever bit of male violence has come her way.

Pearson repeats the allegations from the Grillo trial, that Saatchi considered his wife “an habitual criminal”, which is a bit of a PR gaffe from Saatchi - imagine, another one from this advertising genius - given that a substantial group in the population when they hear that term, instantly picture Norman Stanley Fletcher from Porridge and think Nigella must be rather genial and fun.  At the same time, the image of Saatchi’s Mr McKay to Nigella’s Fletch has a terribly unfortunate cultural resonance for Strangler Saatchi, because we all enjoyed watching Fletch get the better of McKay week after week. No wonder twitter echoes to the cry of “we’d all be on narcotics if we were married to Saatchi!”

But Pearson may not have watched Porridge. “What if this villain of the piece was actually trying to save his destructive wife from herself?” she asks plaintively.  By strangling her?  Is that how you save someone from themself?

“What if Saatchi lamely excusing the fight outside Scott’s as “a playful tiff” was not trying to protect his own reputation, but Nigella’s? Physical violence is never excusable, but what if a frustrated Charles was shaking his wife and saying: “Wake up, woman! Look what you’re doing to yourself and our family”?  she goes on.

This is such classic victim-blaming that I hardly need to critique it, but oh well, I’ve started now, so: the “Physical violence is never excusable, but” excuse, followed by the excuse, means that actually, you believe that physical violence is sometimes excusable.  If you actually believed that physical violence is never excusable, you wouldn’t propose that shaking someone and strangling them, was an excusable desperate attempt to get someone to “wake up”.

 “What if that tweak on her nose was not aggressive and patronising, as we all supposed, but a dig at her cocaine habit?” Well, I know men are supposed to be bad at multi-tasking, but I’ve never bought that stereotype, so I’d just like to point out that it’s possible to have been both.

“What if Nigella’s tears, as she fled the restaurant, were not of fear, but guilt?”  What if they were?  Does that excuse Strangler Saatchi’s violence?  People with critical thinking skills who are not prepared to defend domestic violence for any excuse, would say no.  People who think that they are not in favour of Domestic Violence but when confronted with a real taste of it are, leave the question hanging in the air with the implication that yes, indeed, it does excuse his violence.  No real victim of DV is supposed to have any guilt, about anything at all - like the Immaculate Conception, she’s got to be spotless.  In other words, she’s got to be either a child or someone who has never done anything wrong in her life ever.

Which leaves adult women in the position of never being allowed to be real victims of DV, because none of us is guiltless. None of us would ever be the perfect victim.  All of us have done things in our lives which could be held to be either illegal, immoral or fattening and so if a man decides to attack us, the very fact that we have done those things will absolve our attacker from guilt.  Which is really, really good news for men who go in for domestic violence. In order for a man to be held guilty of domestic violence, his female victim has to be guiltless of anything else.  If she isn’t, then it’s OK for him to strangle her.  That’s the message Allison Pearson in the Telegraph is sending us today.


  1. You seem to have purposely ignored the allegation that Nigella Lawson is herself a perpetrator of domestic violence against her daughter by facilitating her daughter's drug habit.

    What's the worse crime here? Supplying a young person with narcotics and ruining their life, and even potentially killing them, or loosing control of yourself because you know your wife is killing your daughter? Or doesn't DV count when it's perpetuated by a woman against another woman?

    1. No, I haven't purposely ignored that allegation, I hadn't clocked it. If it's true, then it's terrible, but at this stage that's all it is - an allegation. Saatchi's violence is more than an allegation, it's something that is on record.

      Also it doesn't detract from the basic argument - that a woman should not have to fit the Madonna model of womanhood, in order to have the right not to be assaulted by a man. Your characterisation of Saatchi as "losing control" is a huge assumption - domestic violence is not a loss of control, it's an exertion of control. Men who hit their female partners, are not doing so because they're so angry they've lost control, they are doing so because they are pretty sure that they can get away with exerting control in that way. In common with many abusers, Saatchi didn't lose control with his fellow board directors, his employees or his society friends; but they must have all been terribly irritating at various times. No, it was only his intimate partner, as far as we know, that he "lost control" with. Because it wasn't a loss of control, that's not what DV is about. The fact that he attacked her in public, indicates that there was abuse going on behind the scenes; none of us know if she herself was doing something bad too, but here's the thing: non-abusive people don't respond to unacceptable behaviour by being abusive. That seems to me to be so clear that I'm always surprised when people seem to lose sight of that basic fact.

    2. I think I agree with much of what you are saying, however having a business disagreement is a far different thing from finding that your wife is acting as pusher for your daughter, which is certainly within the scope of the less lurid allegations. I don't know if you've had any direct experience of drugs, but to find your wife is involved in directly harmful behaviour which at worst will lead to the death of your daughter, and at best will seriously harm her life and health.. Well to be honest I think most of us would find 'control' a little difficult in those circumstances.

      What I find particularly disturbing in this case is the almost mindless jumping on the DV bandwagon by the usual suspects. If the above turns out to be even half true then public perception will not be in sympathy with the black and white approach being put forward, and the actual practical effect will be to make the situation for DV victims worse because of a blind pursuit of the ideological pure line.

      A little appreciation that life really does have shades of grey would be helpful.

    3. Sorry, but there are no shades of grey when it comes to domestic violence. There is no excuse for it and to argue that there is, is to make life incredibly dangerous for women. There is already too much credence given to the idea that there are plenty of excuses for it and all of them tap into the Madonna/ Whore dichotomy. 1 in 4 women live with chronic DV, 2 a week are murdered by their abusers. We can't afford to give house-room to the notion that there are shades of grey.

      Abusers always do that thing of discrediting their victims, because they know that if people can find a way to excuse male violence against women, they will do. I'm not willing to accept Saatchi's lurid allegations unless they turn out to be true. Since posting this, I've read a bit more and apparently he's claiming that he didn't know she was a coke addict but she was one for a decade. Anyone who has actually lived with a coke addict knows that this is straining credulity - you can't live with a coke addict for a decade and not notice. (Apart from the fact that she'd only have one nostril by now.) And if he did know, then why the hell didn't he remove himself and his child from her influence much earlier on, rather than strangling her in public? A man who was not abusive, would have taken steps to remove himself and his child from the situation, as well as ensuring that her children were not subjected to this environment. He's going to have to come up with a bloody good story as to why he thought a better course of action was to strangle his wife in public, if he wants to be believed. I read a brilliant post today which is here, it explains why strangling is taken so seriously when it comes to abuse:

    4. 1 in 4 women live with chronic domestic violence? I can't find anything to corroborate that statistic, 25% of abused women stated that they had dealt with multiple forms of violence, that does not equate to 1 in 4 women being assaulted.
      With that having been said the statistics on violence against both sexes are disturbing, but at least when a woman is the victim of domestic abuse there is legitimate outrage and it is treated accordingly, I'm not sure the same can be said for domestic violence against men.
      One final point, while it is understandable that people would be outraged at the idea of victim blaming there are mitigating factors when it comes to every crime, so to suggest that domestic violence and crimes of that nature should be exempted from this seems to go against the most important part of a fair justice system however distasteful it may be, but that's just one person's opinion.

    5. His daughter? Cosima Diamond and her brother Bruno are the children of Nigella Lawson and her late husband John Diamond. She is not Saatchi's daughter. Another bit of a story that, as Gordie says, doesn't work. This is an allegation without proof and the facts are not stacking up.

    6. Alan that 1 in 4 figure is very well known and widely quoted so I don't know why you can't find a figure to corroborate it - it's on the Women's Aid website, it's on the Home Office website - the government doesn't argue twith that.

      This post is about the background of misogyny which enables men to control women through violence or the threat of it and the willingness our society shows to enable those violent men. I have no idea why you think it's important to come and post about DV against men, which takes place in a very different socio-economic context.

      I think it's important to make the distinction between mitigating factors in law and mitigating factors in daily life. In daily life men's violence against women is punctuated by mitigation and minimisation. That's why a quarter of all women experience ongoing DV in their lives.

    7. I was just saying that I didn't find it the one I found was the one I mentioned in my previous comment and I only mentioned DV against men because I thought it was relevant to the conversation it wasn't an attempt to say that because it happens to men too that it is somehow less repugnant or more acceptable I just think if we are going to speak on violent crime, we should not narrow the parameters further than victim and aggressor.
      To your next point DV is about control through violence or the threat thereof no matter who the aggressor is and from the statistics I found gathered in Ireland 1 in 7 women were the victim of severe DV at some point in their lives and men came in at 1 in 17 it's a big difference over twice as likely but it does speak to it not being confined to one socio-economic group.
      Finally I agree that it is important to distinguish between the two but if we chide and chastise anyone who reports that the victim might have been victimizing the accused or another family member then our opinions are being formed without all the facts and that isn't something I like to do. Take my opinion for what it's worth and ignore it if you want, I was just trying to give my perspective

  2. Well the not removing himself and the children from the situation is simple to explain. As you know on separation in this country the courts are overwhelmingly more likely to give custody to the mother unless there is strong contrary indications. So unless Saatchi was prepared to out Nigella as an addict then by leaving her he would have made the situation worse for his daughters because they would have been much more under her influence than if he had stayed.

    If in fact he did know she was an addict he would really have had little choice but not to leave. The only way he could have done so and stood a chance of rescuing his daughters would have been to expose Nigella as an addict and unfit to look after her children. That would have necessitated complete character assassination of his wife and consequently ruining her career, which I can easily see could be unpalatable, especially as that would have required standing up in court and having the prosecution trawl through both their private lives. As Nigella was, and still is, seen as a secular saint in some quarters of the media, then even taking such action would not be assured of success and may have indeed exposed his daughters to more harm.

    Look, I'm not arguing that Saatchi did not commit a heinous crime by assaulting Nigella. But by this zealotry of not allowing that there are shades of grey you are throwing the other women in this case - his daughters - to the wolves to sanctifying your sacrifice of Saatchi on the DV altar.

    1. If Charles Saatchi had instead of putting his hands around her neck and throttling her grabbed a table knife and sunk it into her chest would that also be justified by his concern for his daughter.

      Let's be clear in the timeline - these 2 assistants claimed that Nigella was high on drugs so let them spend as much as they liked on business account. These claims were made after there arrest for fraud.

      Charles Saatchi never observed Novella taking any drugs, but took the word of these 2 women as truth, along with sadly a lot of the media.

      Now let's examine bias - what reason could these 2 women have to lie? Well it seems like a good reason to lie to avoid being convicted of fraud and theft - yet again neither Charles Saatchi nor media seem to comment on this - instead Charles Saatchi is quoted as instantly believing what they said despite running a business with Nigella and living with her for years with no concerns before these women raised the allegation.

      Whether Nigella look drugs or not is NOT the issue - and having read the comment about Saatchi protecting children - Saatchi's daughter was over 18 - an ADULT - so capable of making her own decisions and refusing to take them if she was offered them.

      So somehow unproven allegations seem to have justified Charles Saatchi's assault upon his then wife - this sounds remarkably similar to the Iranian man killed in Bristol because he was accused of being a peadophile for filming people damaging his plants - and locally on that estate it seems a lot of sympathy for his murderers because them falsely accused him of being a peadophile therefore innocent or not he deserved it.

      The attitudes of people who would defend anyone attacking another human being not in the cause of war or self defence but because it was justified cause the victim was alleged to have committed a crime, with no trial or proof of guilt ( beyond reasonable doubt in Nigella's case doesn't even come into it as there is no evidence other than secondhand testimony ) make me feel sad for humanity - for those defending Saatchi's actions let me ask you if some kids had been destroying your garden and you filmed them for evidence to give the police - would you accept if someone then branded you a peadophile and burned you alive? Is that justified? Cause once we start accepting violence as reasonable once an allegation is made against a person were heading down the same route as that Bristol estate - and that's not a culture I would choose to live in.

    2. "the courts are overwhelmingly more likely to give custody to the mother unless there is strong contrary indications" Er, yes, Hiri, a cokehead mother is a contrary indication, very strongly so, so Saatchi would have known that if those allegations are true, it's very likely Nigella would not have been given residency. Oh dear, he would have had to character assassinate his wife? He doesn't seem to have too many qualms about doing that, does he?

      Interesting that you use language like "zealotry" and "altar" as if having a zero-tolerance view of DV, is unreasonable. Like we should all pretend that sometimes, it's acceptable. You can kid yourself that you aren't arguing that Saatchi didn't commit a heinous crime, but all your language and automatic assumptions - including giving him the most absurd benefit of the doubt in terms of his behaviour and approach to dealing with a supposedly drugged up wife - show that quite clearly, you are arguing that. Maybe you need to think about why you are so determined to believe the allegations against Nigella and even if they are true, why you think that we should all cut domestic abusers some slack if they are really provoked.

    3. "The only way he could have done so and stood a chance of rescuing his daughters would have been to expose Nigella as an addict and unfit to look after her children. That would have necessitated complete character assassination of his wife and consequently ruining her career, which I can easily see could be unpalatable, especially as that would have required standing up in court and having the prosecution trawl through both their private lives."

      Seems that is EXACTLY what he is doing.

    4. ...although it also seems his evidence is full of contradictions - the dates just don't add up. This is a man who had had his favorite toy walk out on him and is determined to see make her suffer by spouting a host of lies with no evidence to back them up so he is left backtracking in court.

  3. I feel I have to take issue with Hiri Nurmi's suggestion that Nigella Lawson is guilty of abusing her daughter, Cosima Diamond, and put it into context.

    First, this information came into the public domain because it was read out at the trial of the Grillo sisters. Their defence seems to be that they didn't steal money because they were blackmailing Nigella, and she 'tacitly' allowed them to spend money so that they would not tell Saatchi she was taking drugs.

    Secondly, once Saatchi found out this was the Grillo defence, he accused his ex-wife of taking drugs, in an email dated 10th October. He also said Nigella had kept it a secret from him.

    The Saatchi-Lawson divorce was pronounced by the court on 31st July, and the photographs of him choking her at a restaurant were published in late June. This means that the story Allison Pearson wants to promote requires us to believe Charles Saatchi started choking his wife because of something everbody involved says Saatchi didn't know about until several months later. That means Pearson's a bigger liar than Saatchi and her piece is exactly the sort of woman-hating hatchet job HerbsandHags says it is.

    Saatchi said at the time of the choking that he was 'trying to get a piece of snot' out of Nigella's nose. Don't you think that if they really had been arguing about drugs, he would have said so at the time, instead of allowing himself to be vilified by the press as a wife-beater? Or did he not think cocaine was bad in those days? But he attacked her anyway? You see, the story doesn't work.

    The newspapers are now printing that Nigella took coke every day for ten years. How do they work that out, given that Charles Saatchi says he knew nothing? We only have the Grillo sisters' word for it. And they are defendants on trial for taking money from their employers. But some people, like Hiri Nurmi believe them. Since Mimi Diamond is still only 19, ten years of doing drugs with mummy would be serious child abuse. If that's the truth, it's terrible. But no. What we are seeing here is exaggeration, distortion, and in Ms Pearson's case I'd say, actual enjoyment in having the opportunity to attack a woman when she's in a very vulnerable state. I do not like this one bit.

  4. Dear Hiri Nurmi, SHOULD those allegations prove to be true (and so far they are only allegations):

    "The only way he could have done so and stood a chance of rescuing his daughters would have been to expose Nigella as an addict and unfit to look after her children."

    Yes. Exactly. If somebody knows their spouse is a criminal and supplies their children with drugs, endangering their lives, that person should go to the police, because it is a serious crime and not something you can try to solve at home. Also, if someone is unfit to look after their children, well, they should not be allowed to look after their children. It might sound cold, but leaving children in the care of someone who's unfit to look after them is actually much, much colder. I find standing up against a criminal far less unpalatable than threatening and strangling someone physically weaker (or having so little restraint that you do it in a public place).

    "a secular saint in some quarters of the media, then even taking such action would not be assured of success "

    I did not know police investigations and criminal courts in the United Kingdom were run by "some quarters of the media"... yes, there is always the media, but as far as I know what you accuse Nigella Lawson of is a crime and transcends the jurisdiction of the media.

    And no, there are no shades in Domestic Violence. There are cases when the victim is also a perpetrator, but that does not excuse the abusive behaviour of the one who preys on them.

  5. When this story first broke I found myself asking, if I had lost my mother and my aunt to breast cancer at a young age, and then lost my sister to that same genetic breast cancer that hung over me and my daughter like a Damoclean sword, and then lost my much-loved husband to cancer, and then found myself in an abusive marriage, might I not have turned to some kind of chemicals to get through it? Where is everybody's humanity? Have we really lost the imagination to put ourselves in someone else's shoes? Nigella Lawson's life has been one tragedy after another. Does she not now deserve to be treated with some gentleness and empathy?

  6. None of the allegations made by violent male, Saatchi concerning Nigella Lawson are proven but as usual because a male is making these claims they are immediately accepted as 'truths' not allegations. Saatchi is taking revenge against Nigella Lawson because she dared to divorce him and men such as Saatchi believe women are mens' sexual property.

    This vicious piece of women-hating trash written by a female journalist is typical male supremacist strategy because make no mistake it was a man who commissioned this female journalist to write her women-hating article.

    Of course no such articles would be written claiming a male is a sexual predator when these claims have not been proven in a court of law because men would immediately become hysterical and claim their male human rights of justice had been violated. However, women don't have right of 'justice' because women are innately evil which is why unless a woman can prove she is 110% pure and innocent she is indeed evil incarnate.

    Once again men and their female handmaidens make the spurious claim that intimate male violence against women is as rare as the unicorn and/or that women in equal numbers to men commit intimate female violence against men. So if women stand on their heads then men too in equal numbers also stand on their heads!! Such deliberate obsfucation of the facts continues to occur because even stating male violence against women is pandemic is denied because men are never guilty of enacting their choice and agency to commit violence against women and their children.

    Note too that the most dangerous time for a woman is when she has left her male owner because all too commonly he takes lethal revenge by murdering her and her children if she has any. But as usual the male murderer's actions are mitigated/excused/justified because 'he supposedly snapped or lost control.' Well if men know they can lose control they have the choice of removing themselves from the situation but that statement is never made because holding men to account is taboo.

    So I repeat these allegations made by violent male perpetrator Saatchi are just allegations not facts. However, Saatchi stupidly committed physical violence against Nigella Lawson whilst he was in a public place and Saatchi is furious his real vicious character was captured on camera.

    Hell has no fury like a man whose female sexual property has removed herself from his control.

    1. Thank you very much Jennifer for summing up so succinctly Saatchi's pathetic revenge-type behaviour against Ms lawson.She not only dared to make public his attempts to strangle her but she also walked away from her perpetrator. It is as you say precisely at the point when a woman is about to leave or have left their partner that they and/or their children, are at most risk of male violence.
      Shame on Allison Pearson for colluding with the menz and their victim blaming/justification stance.
      Your radicalised 'Hell has no fury..." proverb is pure brilliance.

  7. If Nigella Lawson hadn't finally summoned the courage to leave this scumbag, none of these trashy allegations would have seen the light of day. But because she refused to sign up for further abuse, he is out for revenge. Saatchi is a textbook narcissistic psychopath. Nothing he alleges will erase the ugly image of his assault.

  8. I hope Nigella Lawson sues the Telegraph for that piece of dross. Would have liked to leave a comment on their website but surprise surprise, comments were not allowed. The Telegraph and the Daily Mail are interchangeable and have been for some time.

  9. Oh, the whole story seems like a cheap thriller to me, which only makes me think that it probably is. Nigella broke his heart, and now that sad, lonely rich man is doing everything he can do destroy her. Just check out her biography, especially the relationship she had with her first husband.

  10. Broke his heart, what a joke. Look into his eyes, does that man look like he might have a heart? No, he lost control of his chattel, that's all.

  11. Let's not forget that Saatchi tried to get Nigella back via pleas from his daughter to patch things up, and a double page spread in the Sunday Mail. Is that really the actions of a man who believed his wife had a cocaine problem?

  12. One notes that neither of Saatchi's ex-wives have rushed to his defence. One has to assume they are not commenting on his character for fear of losing their alimony

  13. I think the problem is that Saatchi seems to be quite good at his job - convincing the public of whatever he wants. Although to you and I it is a transparent attempt to punish her for his being found out as an abuser, to everyone else, led by the press, "see? he wasn't a nasty abuser all along! She's a drug whore! Drugs! She takes drugs! He was in the right all along. Poor old Charlie Saatchi. Nasty Nigella taking drugs, gets everything she deserves."
    Infuriated that the radio news this evening led with "Nigella Lawson has admitted to taking drugs! ... but only a couple of times and she says this is a hate campaign..." Why not lead with "Nigella Lawson had her say and you know what, her ex husband is an abusive twat."

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