Nigella to divorce …

I just read an article that states Nigella Lawson is getting a divorce. The statement was issued by her husband, Charles Saatchi, and she has not said anything publicly about this situation at all.

I applaud her silence right now, despite the fact that her soon-to-be-ex husband says, basically, that he doesn’t like the advice she’s received to do so. Not to get into this too much, but his comments have generally been condescending and, frankly, horrid.

There is no adequate response she could make, no matter how hard he’s working to try to get her to say something. At times, his comments have appeared baiting to me.

Do we know for sure that this was a domestic violence situation? No, we don’t.

If she is someone who has survived domestic violence, though, I hope she eventually does speak publicly about it. To be blunt, we need some high-profile spokespeople to help others understand that DV affects rich and poor alike.

Meanwhile, I was remembering how my ex-husband kept trying to paint me as the person at fault, even though he was the one who abused me and sexually molested our daughter. He preyed on my vulnerabilities where she was concerned, made me cry during depositions by literally laughing out loud when I described the hurt he had caused her. As if to say, “This is a joke. She is a joke. Our daughter is a joke.”

It certainly worked in his favor. He was never prosecuted for any crimes, never paid any sort of penalty, got liberal visitation from the courts. It wasn’t until our daughter was 11 years old that she finally spoke about it again (I didn’t know the abuse had continued), and the court listened. FINALLY. Eleven years of abuse later.

That’s the problem, you see. No one is listening to victims, be they women like me or our children. All these years later — I moved out of that house 23 years ago — almost nothing has changed. Society’s perceptions of DV and child molestation remain the same. The court system still works against us, too.

At this point, I don’t know what it will take to create the sea change necessary to stop this societal disease. Because as much as we’d like to keep saying it’s a personal matter, domestic violence is a societal problem. Its effects are often hidden but real, and they’re dangerous. Lost opportunities. Lost jobs. Illness. Mental illness. Substance abuse. Death.

Nigella’s problems may or may not be domestic violence — we’ll never know unless she says something. But we need to continue the domestic violence conversation in the public sphere, whether she decides to be part of it, or not.

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