Nigella and Charles. Would you have intervened?

nigellaA friend of mine alerted me to the images of Nigella Lawson being abused by her husband Charles Saatchi in a restaurant last week.

My friend exclaimed ‘Why didn’t anyone do anything? If this was in a professional environment, two men or two women then there would have been intervention but because its domestic everyone turns a blind eye”

My first reaction was that maybe people didn’t really see what was happening or perhaps were too shocked or confused to intervene.It’s taken a few days but I’m starting to understand why people are conditioned not to do anything.

How would these same onlookers reacted if they saw a couple in the street having the same argument, the woman suffering the same abuse but the difference being that the couple were of a perceived lower class, perhaps part of an ethnic minority and on an average high street?

There would have been intervention. I certainly would have intervened. I have a profiled view of a victim of domestic violence- it comes from misery, from poor education, poor provision and opportunity. Alcoholism and drugs play a big role.

I would have saved that woman by clipping the man around the head and throwing out the police arm lock my Dad taught me when I was 13 and have been waiting to use ever since. I would have probably got my ass kicked but I would have felt obliged to help, I would of felt safe in the fact that any men around at the same time would come to our aid and eventually, I would have been rather chuffed with myself.

Sitting across from a well-known, wealthy couple in a posh restaurant surrounded by others who were doing nothing to intervene I can’t, hand on heart, declare that I would have said or done something. This situation would have made me feel rather confused. Domestic violence doesn’t happen to posh, rich happy people right? I must be misreading this situation. A ‘playful tiff‘ maybe?

Obviously, now knowing Saatchi is capable of this behaviour through this highly reported altercation I would have no qualms in smashing a posh plate over his head and shouting “Nigella, lets bust out of this joint”

Me to the rescue. In this highly ridiculous fantasy, again, I’m so proud of myself.

In reality however, not associating these two people with anything other than happiness, wealth, food and art; I would have gone through the following thoughts:

  • What the hell?
  • Is anyone going to do anything? The staff will say something.
  • I’m not the closest to them so I will wait to see if they say something.
  • Ok no one has said anything, shall I say something? He isn’t really hitting her and she is still calming him down.
  • I’m embarrassed. Shall I pretend to ignore it I don’t want to embarrass her?

AND I’M A FEMINIST. I loathe myself.

Now Mr Saatchi has released a statement claiming that he was grabbing her face to emphasise a point in an argument about their children, that Nigella was weeping because she didn’t like arguing with her husband (sniffle, sniffle) and he has ‘told her’ to take the kids and leave whilst the dust settles’. even the guardian speculated that we were all jumping to conclusions. This morning they have apologised for saying such things.

Nigella has remained silent, has left with her children and ‘has no immediate plans to return’.

Actions speak louder than words. Both Nigella’s and onlooker’s voices are absent from the situation and it’s that, which is most disturbing.

2 thoughts on “Nigella and Charles. Would you have intervened?

  1. People look on, but they will say no words to the abuser. They will chatter amongst themselves about how the couple should keep this in private. Some will throw guesses into the ring and try to come up with scenarios about why they are arguing, even to point of offering excuses for the abuser, blaming the victim. They will sit / stand and stare, and let their eyes dart about to see if anyone else is going to do anything. People will slow down and stare in morbid curiosity… and keep on going about with their day as if nothing happened.

    They may even bring this up later to friends, acquaintances, family. “I saw a woman being choked today. I didn’t know what to do, so I ignored it.” Hardly anyone would reply to them: “Why didnt you say something? Why didn’t you stop him?” Quite to point, because they wouldn’t want the finger pointed back at them.

    “It isn’t my business.”

    “I can’t control what other people do.”

    “They should keep it at home.”

    Some go further and make fun of the victim, as though he/she was simply getting what they deserved. But there is NOTHING they could do to deserve this.

    It doesn’t matter if there is stress, drug / alcohol use, financial problems involved. An abuser will be an abuser at any point in time, because that is what they are inside. Can the afore-mentioned things contribute to its severity or frequency? Yes. BUT, this is merely an excuse to cover up behavior that would eventually make its way out anyway, if it hasn’t already.

    I was punched in the head while my abuser (who I left in December) and I were walking down a street. People were driving past; they slowed down a little, gawked, and kept on going. Someone was walking on the opposite side of the street when it happened, and they looked over, turned and looked around to see if there was anyone else who could see them, and made an aburpt turn onto a side street.

    We were coming out of a store and walking back the few blocks to our apartment on another occasion. He became upset about something stupid, as usual, and people in the parking lot looked down the hill at us as he picked up a grapefruit-sized rock and tried to grab me and immobilize so he could hit me in the back of the head. I pushed him back and yelled. The cattle standing in the parking lot abruptly turned around and walked away.

    These only a few of the instances where people saw him abusing me in public. The majority of them time, it was verbal, and people did the same thing. Stand and stare. Point it out to even more people. It. Is. Humilaiting. You begin to feel that you have no worth, because no one will help you. If they won’t even intervene when he is being violent in public, what he says about you being worthless then must be true, right?

    Even though we know somewhere deep down that is NOT the case, that is still how it feels when you are caught in a trap of being abused. It can happen to any of us during any point in our lives. We can be wealthy or poor. Highly educated at an Ivy League school or highschool drop outs. Alcohol and drug addicted or never used anything so much as a cigarette ever.

    So no one intervenes, but society gets in an uproar about domestic abuse and how it’s an open wound on humanity… all these superbly poetic cliches… yet when we encounter the monster in public, we look away and let another human being be harmed. It isn’t enough that it happens in our homes where we are supposed to feel safe. But in public, with so many “oblivious” witnesses… that is humuilating. Excruciatingly so, when these private, painful events are rip away from us and thrown out into the street for everyone to trample on.

    I am thrilled that you are being so honest about this in your post. Most people try to cover it over and emphatically state how quickly they would move to intervene…. I appreciate and thank you for your honesty. This says to me, that if you were perhaps in the situation, you may at least try to slip away where they cannot see you and either ask the business to call the police or you would do so yourself. And if I am wrong about that, I would hope that after reading my comment, it would become the case.

    I realize that many women may not feel safe physically or verbally approaching the man in this case. Honestly, I would be thinking, “if he can do this to her, to his wife, the woman he loves, then what would he do to me/” For women, I really prefer them calling hte police instead of putting themselves in harm’s way; you never know how bad the monster lurking in the shadows is. You can always stay as a witness and give a description and direction they went if they left before the police came. Men, however… I would love to see them grow a pair and intervene and remove him.

    We are all human beings who at the core love and want to be loved in return. It doesn’t mean that we should be punished because the person we loved turned out to be a monster.

  2. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say that I have really loved surfing around your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing in your rss feed and I’m hoping you write once more soon!

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