Nigella. Or DV is a PUBLIC health issue, not a private matter/I am worried about Christine Odone

Trigger warning: This article discusses DV and intense violence.

If in reading this article at any point, you realize you need help in terms of current or past relationship, please go here to find assistance.

I came across this article, which is a response to a pretty awful and sad article.  The original article (aka the sad and awful article) is written by Christine Odone.  Ms. Odone is writing about an incident of domestic violence in which a prominent British man attempted to strangle his wife in public and it was photographed by paparazzi and went viral.  Side note – in the DV field, we don’t call this act of violence “choking,” we call it strangulation or attempted strangulation b/c that’s what it is: intentional, violent and with potential to kill (not to get too serious too fast or anything BUT it is an important distinction).  So this man, Charles Saatchi attempts to strangle his wife, Nigella Lawson and Ms. Odone writes an article to assert that domestic violence is, in fact, a private matter and not just that but it’s all par for the course in a healthy, happy marriage.

Then on Jezebel, Erin Gloria Ryan writes an article in response (the first article I mentioned) in which she points out just how disturbing the original article is.  And Ms. Ryan’s piece is a very good article.  But there are two things about it that I’d like to follow up on.

The first is this – she writes:

I’m not trying to say that I fear for Nigella Lawson’s life; I don’t know what’s going on in their marriage beyond that one really awful-looking thing that just happened.

As someone in the DV field, I can say I have a pretty good idea of what’s going on in this marriage.  I’m not going to say she must leave or she’ll die (remember leaving is actually the most dangerous time in an abusive relationship) but I will say that in profiling abusers, it’s been determined that those abusers who attempt to strangle their partners tend to be more dangerous and more likely to be lethal (note- there are other high-risk abuse behaviors).  In the DV field, we also say that if an abuser is willing to do a certain type of abuse in public, imagine what the abuser is willing to do behind closed doors.  Remember – abusers are in control of their actions (you kinda have to be in order to successfully control your partner) and they tend to want to maintain a certain public image so if they decide they must be this violent in public to control their partner then we’re likely only seeing a small, less severe glimpse of what goes on at home, unfortunately.

The other thing about the original article that I can’t overlook, which the second article doesn’t really address, is that the author likely has some current or past experience with DV and needs to put out such articles to reassure herself that her situation is/was okay and she is safe.  And that is really awful for her.  Now, of course, I can’t say for sure.  I’ve never met her.  But that’d be my best, educated guess.

PS  I’m watching “Arrested Development” while writing this and it’s hard to write a serious article on a difficult topic while watching a funny TV show.  Just in case you were wondering…

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence (Photo credit: UMWomen)

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