An Abuser is an Abuser. ~ Kimberly Lo

Via Kimberly Lo
on Jun 29, 2013
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Source via Venetia Rahal on Pinterest
Source via Venetia Rahal on Pinterest

Weeks after they were published, the pictures remain shocking: celebrity chef Nigella Lawson appears to be grabbed by the throat by her husband Charles Saatchi in public at a posh London restaurant.

The pictures created an outcry on both sides of the Atlantic and with many asking why no one intervened. However, there were some who were quick to dismiss this saying that the media and the public were creating mountains out of molehills. In one article that was published last week in the UK-based The Daily Mail, a columnist (who happened to be a woman) stated unequivocally that Lawson could not possibly be a victim of domestic violence because she “did not fit the (sp) mould” of a battered woman and implied that strong women do not fall prey to abusers. (The author did acknowledge though that Saatchi was a “volatile and physical man” and had a history of throwing furniture around in his office when things did not go his way.)

Unlike the author, I have never met Lawson or Saatchi. I have no idea what their marriage is like, but I do know two things: 1. grabbing someone by the throat is abuse 2. strong women (and men) can and do become victims of abuse. Also, despite what the author implies, famous women are just as likely to be victims of domestic abuse as their non-famous counterparts.

Domestic abuse cuts across all socioeconomic groups, and Lawson joins the unenviable list of famous women who have been abused by their spouses/partners including Ronnie Spector, Tina Turner (who for many epitomizes a strong woman) and Rihanna whose brutal beating by the hands of then-boyfriend Chris Brown nearly three years ago continues to be a subject of conversation. At the time, I remember one acquaintance saying he was shocked that a seemingly spunky, independent girl like Rihanna would “allow herself to be beaten” as if somehow she had consented to being assaulted.

Rihanna’s incident came up again when the Lawson story broke with many asking why women who were wealthy in their own right and in the case of these two would have little trouble finding new partners continue to stay with abusive men? (At the time when the story broke, Lawson was still living with Saatchi in their London home before she moved out while Rihanna made headlines last year for appearing to go back to Brown and declaring to Oprah that she still loved him.)

As someone who has experienced domestic abuse, I can say unequivocally  that it is not that easy.

Often, victims refuse to admit that they were abused.  It is not uncommon to question whether or not the incident that took place was “really abuse or not”. (Over the years, I have heard numerous things like, “He shoved me, but he didn’t actually hit me”,  or “It didn’t hurt.”) There is often a sense of shame that surrounds it as well. In my case, I was mortified at the thought of my friends and family finding this out. Add to this common myths and misconceptions about abusers and their victims, and it can be very hard to be believed even-such as in the case of Lawson—there is actual footage of the event taking place.

One thing that I couldn’t help but notice is how the media and the public seemed more likely to believe that Chris Brown had engaged in domestic violence. Much was made about his hard-scramble upbringing in a very tough area of Richmond, Virginia, by a single mother who was herself allegedly a victim of a domestic abuse. There seemed to be a sense of well-what-do-you-expect from a young man from that sort of up-bringing. Saatchi on the other hand is a “posh” advertising guru/art collector. His alleged aggression was praised and cited as a reason for his success in the business world, and he was backed by several equally wealthy and well-known friends as the sort of guy who could never do this. Indeed, the artist Tracey Emin chided his critics saying that they obviously had “never been in love.”

Again, while I would never claim to be an expert in anything much less relationships, I know that violence has nothing whatsoever to do with love. In fact, being violent with someone is the opposite of love.

While some may feel that these incidents are just another example of celebrity voyeurism, I believe that unlike most celebrity news, recognizing that rich and famous women can also be victims of domestic abuse can help women of all walks of life who find themselves in that situation realize that they are not alone.

Also, until we as a society all get on the same page and realize that domestic violence is everyone’s business, myths and ignorance surrounding it will prevail. Like many social problems, there is no simple solution to ending the cycle of domestic violence.

However, there is one thing we can do: We can stop believing that only certain “types” of people are abusers and victims and that if we witness a blatant act of abuse in public, we should try to intervene if possible. (By intervene, I don’t mean it is necessary to try and break it up yourself. However, in this day and age where everyone and his grandmother has a cell phone we can call the police.) It may not solve all the problems of domestic abuse, but it is a start along with acknowledging that true love should never hurt like that.




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Ed: Kate Bartolotta


About Kimberly Lo

Kimberly Lo is a yoga instructor and freelance editor & writer based in Charlottesville, VA. In her spare time, she enjoys needlework, travel, and photography. Connect with her on Facebook.


7 Responses to “An Abuser is an Abuser. ~ Kimberly Lo”

  1. michele says:

    Abuse, abusers, and those who are abused can take many forms, and there is no way to 'tell by looking.' It's good to see someone addressing the issue.

  2. Shellm says:

    Thank you for this. I was abused and thought it was part of being in a relationship even though I had never seen it before. There is never a good excuse for this behavior and it never turns out well if you put up with it. My sister and I both loved men that did this and now that the children are grown they are leaving. If anyone is reading this, know that if someone is doing this to you, they don't love you they only love/despise themselves.

  3. KarenA says:

    You are so right … the article you referred to is offensive in its massive ignorance of the reality of domestic violence. To call victims weak and pathetic … very troubling journalism 🙁 Thank you for this article, hopefully less people will turn a blind eye.

  4. Ronin says:

    Well written and 100% “spot on.” Having also been in “love” like this, we should all be advocates for those in these relationships. It is very hard to see the sun trough the clouds when you are actively involved.

  5. julia says:

    the proverbial elephant in the room in this article while comparing saatchi to chris brown, is that chris brown is a young **black** male performer from a typically low income black background, and saatchi is a very well established white old man, rich to boot. the author is for some reason circling around that fact in why the media would easily identify chris brown as an abuser and not saatchi.
    and abuse is not just physical. it's just that the physical is most obvious. underneath the physical inevitably is the even more devastating daily emotional abuse that many women suffer through for years in some interest of supporting or maintaining or hiding their abusive relationships.

  6. kimberlylowriter says:

    Maybe I should have made it clear in the piece, but I thought I was implying that race and class play a huge role in this. You are 100% right: abuse is not just limited to physical abuse, either.

    I do think that if Saatchi was a rapper, the media would be far more condemning than it has been.

  7. Asma says:

    How could "strong" and "wealthy" women (or men) "allow" themselves to be abused? Easy. Because a person who *experiences* abuse can be just as confused, if not more, than people in the Daily Mail article. "That wasn't abuse," or "How can *I* be abused when I am so this this and this and I have all of that that and that?"

    Human relationships, love and attachment are very complex. Layers and layers of emotions are engaged. That function does not care about personal strength, health nor wealth. When are in relationships (of any kind) our emotions become engaged and when our emotions become engaged, it is a natural consequence that we become vulnerable to the other person. Vulnerability can be powerful. Also, depending on what type of dynamics we find ourselves in, vulnerability can either be very empowering or very disempowering.

    The complexities of these relationships are too much for us to comment on yes. But abuse in it of itself is *not* complex. *Why* it happens and the kinds of "types" *who* it happens is not irrelevant. All we have to know is that *happens* and *can* happen to anyone at all and not undermine what it is. The Daily Mail Article is a an outrage and I wished education and awareness in certain topics would be required before these silly "journalists" start shooting their mouths off.

    If I remember right, not too long ago this same "news" organization posted an article stating that "studies showed" that women who "swallowed" were happier, healthier and lived longer (I kid you not). Yet they could not cite a credible source for the "study" go figure.