Why did Nigella put up with this?

….asked one magazine this week. “Is she leaving him?” quizzed another.

In light of the recent Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi abuse case all eyes and questions have turned to Nigella.

These questions aren’t uncommon. The world winces at such high profile cases and we find ourselves asking; why does ‘she’ stay? Why is ‘she’ putting up with this? Is she MAD?

Even the most enlightened publishers, writers and broadcasters will jump to question the woman’s motives. Each time the woman eventually just becomes a victim. Her individuality lost as we label her the abused wife or girlfriend. The reality is that with every high profile case of domestic abuse, the media turns the lens on women in general and abused women in particular.

I endorse the support and the need to raise awareness through popular culture and the media. However, we systematically ignore the abuser. The man.

In turn the abuser simply becomes a baddie. The ‘bad man’ women should be hiding from and that’s it. We never seem to probe further and ask why did he do it?

It’s a strange elephant-in-the-room situation. Women everywhere, myself included, can’t comprehend returning to an abusive partner. But that’s because we haven’t been abused, yet we are hungry to understand why and find ways of helping women look to themselves to make sure they don’t ‘choose’ these men.

I get it. I know we need to communicate this too but making women better at picking ‘em isn’t going to change things on its own.

After the initial story goes public the man suddenly becomes distanced from the conversation and thus absent from the big picture. That is what I am talking about, the bigger picture. The reaction to an incident of abuse and the next steps usually focus on the woman. Yes, this is a solution to a problem but what does prevention look like?

We dissect the life of the likes of ‘poor Nigella’ to understand what went wrong and then wonder why women feel like they are to blame or why they feel patronized as the labeled victim?

I think amongst the wonder we should be trying to understand these abusers too. Why they are doing this? What has happened in their life? Why is it so common? What messages are we sending our young men? Because if abused women are societies problem, then so are the abusers.

Originally published on Caitlin Moran’s website.  Check it out, we get all chatty…

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