Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Saatchi delivers the final slap in the face to Nigella Lawson.

Charles Saatchi neglected all class today by taking over the spectacularly ill-informed and wantonly patriarchal Daily Mail in order to deliver a classic piece of minimisation and denial of his appalling treatment of his wife Nigella Lawson.

He announced his decision to divorce Nigella in a statement to The Daily Mail. This appallingly crass behaviour is rather difficult to comprehend from a man so used to effectively controlling the message as leader of an advertising agency. Unless, of course, you consider the fact that he follows all the patterns of a perpetrator of Domestic Violence and Abuse. Is it perhaps because, he has ceased to control both Nigella and the message about his marriage? Saatchi is in meltdown because his honed techniques appear to have been blown out of the water and onto the tabloid front pages.

In response to being accused of domestic abuse, a perpetrator will typically try to minimise or deny his abuse. Saatchi tried this with his "playful tiff" defence. We categorically did not believe him.

The pressure continued. Nigella stayed quiet. She will be used to doing that. He doesn't actually deserve it but she is taking the quietly elegant moral high ground. I hope she continues to do so whilst he self-destructs. Of course this makes him furious. She has left him. She has refused his demands to collude in his denial of his behaviour. She has left his control.

A controlling man therefore has to do whatever he can. Unfortunately for Nigella what this well-resourced and financially able man can do is take control of a national newspaper and deliver a final slap in the face by announcing that he has the ultimate say and is divorcing her.

The Mail colludes in his abuse by giving him a platform and using the notorious insider "friend" - who was apparently present for the entire conversation post revelation of events at Scott's. I find this hard to believe. There may be "a friend" - though this friend will be a friend of Saatchi's and will therefore be representing his version of events rather well. Many victims of DVA find that it is hard to confess their abuse even to their own friends because the perpetrator is invariably well-received by both his friends and hers. Often he is similarly well-regarded by her family. A perpetrator saves his special "treatment" for her alone. This in turn makes it even easier for him to reinforce his version of his "normal" behaviour upon her. It makes it simple also to convince her that the abuse she suffers is either non-existent or not as serious as she perceives (also known as gas lighting), caused by her provocation, is actually her fault, is a result of how intensely he loves her, a result of previous abuse he has suffered, the result of stress/alcohol/drugs, she has done the same to him and so it is ok, is just part of his personality and what she loves about him. Good luck with that Saatchi. I think she left YOU, so you appear to be speaking to readers of The Daily Mail, not Nigella. Hopefully she will read your classless declaration that her marriage is over, laugh and call her own lawyer to tell him to stop typing. I doubt it though. She will be grieving her lost marriage I imagine. But I can hope.

It is sickening to see Saatchi take the injured party role. His statement includes reference to how he is sorry he has "been a disappointment to Nigella" over the last year. This suggests that she has impossibly high standards which he, the poor man, cannot possibly live up to. Well sir. Try not painfully pushing your wife's nose to the sky in public or putting your hands around her throat - no not even if your aren't "pressing on very hard". That would be a start love.

He goes on "I abhor violence of any kind against women, and have never abused her physically in any way". Many abusive men use this stance to differentiate themselves from those "other brutes" who "batter" women. He typically fails to see that many tactics of emotional and physical abuse leave far deeper scars. Ones that do not disappear as fast as bruises. The techniques of an abusive and controlling man include name calling, belittling, destructive criticism, intimidation (such as standing above her, blocking doorways, gestures, mimicking, eye-rolling, shouting and yelling, displaying weapons), smashing things near her or in front of her (these are usually, interestingly HER things, not his), controlling finances and major decisions, isolating her from friends, undermining her achievements, sulking, threatening to leave, threatening to hurt her (even if not actually doing so), possessive or jealous behaviour, controlling her movements, calling her a bad mother or criticising her parenting skills or decisions, threatening to take away her children, hurting a family pet.

So, even assuming that we take his word for the fact he has never hit her, and that putting his hands around her thoat to "emphasise his point" (incidentally an abusive man does not like his opinions questioned and will frequently use this as an excuse) is acceptable to us, then we still have rather a lot of points to consider before wishing Saatchi all the best as he trips off through Mayfair with his bag full of cash to his next erm... victim.

He tells us "we are tactile people". Hmm. Yes. I often touch people I like. A hand on the arm. A stroke of the hair. I have never put my hand around their throat. He tells us she was disagreeing with him about her daughter's future. He therefore had to make her see things as he did. Controlling? Yes. Abusive? Yes. Both guilty of the same? NO. Perpetrators often report that their partners are also violent. Unfortunately, a victim will often attempt to fight back. This is fruitless in two ways. He is stronger and she will realise that too late. He will then use this to justify his own, often much worse, violence and throw it in her face subsequently.

The Mail tells us it has the "most authoritative account". What rot. If you don't have Nigella's view you don't have any balanced or authoritative account at all. This is a collaboration in Saatchi's abuse of her and you should be ashamed.

These sources say he told Nigella to "pack her bags and go". Abusive men often threaten to either leave or to throw a partner out. A victim often typically becomes confused and desperate and will beg them to reconsider. I'm pleased Nigella did not.

The report states that "Saatchi believes that Nigella's willlingness to take her PR advisor's advice over his own ultimately tore them apart"

She has defied his opinions and refused to take his advice. A controlling and abusive man cannot accept such defiance. He must take back control. Hence he throws her out.

His main reason for announcing that he intends to divorce her is that she "refused to defend him in public and say he never hit her."

Firstly, she has refused only to be complicit in his own minimisation and denial of his own behaviour. She has actually remained quiet. Secondly, he again misses the point that even if he hasn't hit her he could still be abusive as he could be guilty of emotional and psychological abuse as listed above.

The "friend" tells us of his hands around her throat "he wasn't exerting any pressure, or trying to scare her. He would never hurt her or any woman." Excuse me? A man put his hands around your throat during a discussion in order to make his point and you will feel no threat in that at all? Get away with you! Often the mere raising of a perpetrator's voice is enough for most abused women as it immediately conjures the many times before that things have escalated and she will be desperate for a way to prevent that reoccurring. Fear and anxiety about when his next outburst will occur is never far from the front of her mind in this type of relationship.

As we hear of Saatchi that he is "not an easy man to live with", "when the light shines on you he is charming and amazing.. then the light fades and there is darkness" (this from his ex-wife! If you fear a man may be abusive always try to speak to the ex-partners). These statements suggest there is something magical about him. Most abusive men like to create a sense that they are special or extraordinary. In fact they follow an all too predictable pattern. Spending time with victims of abuse and listening to them speak of their abuse is like watching a light bulb go on in each head. Statements like "Oh My God! Do they all go to a school to learn this stuff??" Most of these women are astounded to hear that their own hell is pretty similar to every other victim's hell -  with a very similar devil.

Finally we hear, "He can be difficult, he’s never pretended otherwise. It’s often the way with brilliant men. It’s true Nigella is scared of his temper and of him lashing out verbally, but she’s never been frightened of him physically. In private, Nigella has told friends, that of course he has never lifted a finger to hurt her, although he can be difficult and overbearing at times."

So, she is scared of him. He verbally abuses her and he is controlling. I'm sorry but how on earth does this lead us to the conclusion that he is anything but abusive. "lashing out" verbally is no different to escalating a woman's level of fear or lack of self-esteem or confusion or anxiety than would be a slap or a kick (or a forcing up of a nose - incidentally if you haven't, please try this on yourself. Tweaking does not adequately describe the pain). Both hurt, both leave her in despair, both are a sign that he is in control of her. I have heard many abused women say "I would rather he had hit me. I know where I stand then. I know I've been abused. The other stuff is worse. Not knowing how he is messing with my head is the worst bit."

So, Mr Saatchi. I hope your wife never comes back. I hope she walks away from this with her head held high. She has done nothing wrong. She is an incredibly strong woman to have stuck with you at all. She is an absolute star for remaining quiet as you flail about denying your behaviour is anything but abusive.

The Daily Mail - hang your head in shame. You don't deserve a female readership until you begin to even vaguely grasp the issues they face.

This post was first published here, thanks to the author for permission to cross post.

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4 thoughts on “Saatchi delivers the final slap in the face to Nigella Lawson.

  • Elizabeth. says:

    I totally agree Saatchi has used the Mail to continue to abuse his wife and to try and humiliate her and they have colluded with him. So they have abused her too. They are totally complicit in this.

  • As an abuse survivor, I didn’t know where to start to comment.. From the Daily Fail agreeing to publish what that disgusting man had said, to the fact that the already mentioned disgusting man is an abuser, with all the typical traits. Well done to all of you, writer and re-bloggers included, to have spread these meaningful thoughts online :)

  • Ladkyis says:

    That is a perfect description of my ex husband. I kept quiet because we had children. He spent the rest of his life trying to convince them I was the abusive one – and that it was all my mother’s fault. Mr Saatchi is a bully and an abuser and I hope people point at him in the street and prevent their children from going close to him.

  • I expect that Saatchi’s account is untrue in a number of ways. I think she probably left before he had a chance to tell her to go. I expect he plans to divorce her because he needed to get his retaliation in first. I think she will be much better off divorced from him than married to him.