domestic abuse

The Politics of Violence Against Women

As a survivor of domestic violence and a repeat victim of online harassment and abuse, neither of which were acknowledged by the authorities or the commentariat responsible for throwing me to the trolls in the first place, I am angry but also demoralised by the display of ignorance and entitlement our feminist women MPs have treated us to the last few weeks.

Lucy Allan the Conservative member of parliament for Telford was found to have lied about the death threat she allegedly received in response to the fact she’d voted to bomb Syria. Similarly Stella Creasy lamented the ‘call doxxing’ she’d clearly imagined being as there is no such thing. Doxxing is what happens when someone trawls the Internet for your home and work details, pasting them online so that anyone can access your private information. Trolls and those with actual criminal intent (to rape or kill) are then free to hunt you down and hurt you. This hasn’t happened to Stella and even if it did the police would do their jobs, unlike the reality for the majority of victims who are not permitted to even defend themselves with words because it shows they weren’t frightened or intimidated by the perpetrator. Victim blaming aside, in my personal experience the authorities pass the buck on whose duty of care it is to safeguard vulnerable people online. If you’re an MP though, the cops are answerable to you, it’d be more than their job’s worth to treat the elite the way they do the rest of us plebs so to use this language not only incorrectly but to suggest there is no recourse is a blatant lie, especially when someone has already been jailed for getting on Creasy’s privileged side.

Siobhan McDonagh, another Labour MP claimed the attacks on her were comparable to domestic abuse, using emotive language in order to appeal for sympathy because we do care about victims in this country. Domestic abuse is so called because it happens in the home. It is where one person lives in fear of another, a relation, intimate partner, regardless of gender. It is not at all comparable to the righteous condemnation that goes hand in hand with being a representative for the people, particularly when you’re not doing a very good job of listening to your constituents. How do these MPs suggest we behave given that we’re being sold down the river for objecting to more war (and a million other policies) by these elitist warmongering neolibs?

However their words have not had the desired effect, instead survivors have expressed their dismay and unease at this appropriation of survivor language by women who should definitely know better. Why aren’t they trained in women’s issues, how can they be unaware of the ways in which patriarchy denies justice to victims on the basis that “women lie”? When one woman makes a false allegation of anything that is viewed within society as a women’s issue, it has a knock on effect for us all. It’s sad and unfair but a fact that whenever we do make progress we do so for the whole of womankind. Similarly when one of us fucks up, we make things difficult for all.

When Jeremy Corbyn was voted in as leader we were told how unfeminist it was to overlook the female candidates but the feminists themselves don’t understand how unfeminist it is to use these particular words in the wrong context, when so many women are denied justice.

Please stop using the words we use to describe our lived experiences. As marginalised people we need them to describe the actual things we suffer without justice and for people to understand what those experiences mean. To undermine this language is to undermine the work we do in the community and online to raise awareness of violence against women, something of which I’m sure the capitalist fems haven’t the slightest clue.

(To bomb Syria, where there will most likely be women and children is a feminist issue but then white feminism was adamant race wasn’t a feminist issue at all so they’re hardly going to join the dots here)

Shout your abortion

Following the campaign to defund Planned Parenthood services in America (state funded), abortion activists took to Twitter with the hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion to counter the arguments made by zealous anti choicers. If you’ve ever followed the ever present attacks on family planning or been involved in actions to support your local abortion clinic you’ll have been confronted by some very strange people indeed. With this in mind I knew that tweeting in solidarity would provoke a backlash, I just wasn’t as prepared for the kinds of things completely random people on the internet would say to me (and me, a seasoned survivor of trolls).

I tweeted:

I didn’t say I’d had an abortion or that I agreed or disagreed with termination (for the record, it’s your body, your choice) but I knew it would reach those people whose lives it had saved, at least those who acknowledged the established life within the pregnant person carrying a promise of potential life (20% of first time pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion, 80% of those before 12 weeks gestation), which is in no way a baby or a person (person being a societal construct). When a foetus is squatting in your uterus it does not cancel out the life already in existence, without which the foetus wouldn’t exist at all. Bizarrely this fact seems to have escaped these people.

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Nope, not what I said at all

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Logic clearly evades you for refusing to accept there is life in the person carrying the foetus.

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This tweet is particularly interesting because it feeds into the idea that pregnancy is essentially a woman’s fault. By opening my legs I am consenting to a foetus being installed in there. If this person could acknowledge the sperm provider and the condom issue many men have (yeah sure, they’re ‘too tight’) and spread that responsibility about a bit I’d be less inclined to believe they were woman hating scum.

For example all these people with their righteous war on people who carry foetuses (I doubt very much any of these people has even considered the fact that other genders are also capable of pregnancy, this is a specific hatred driven at cis women for not being masculine/male/patriarchal).

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The idea that all unwanted pregnancies can be attributed to selfish promiscuous women is entirely misogynistic and anti woman. These people would probably accuse a woman of entrapment if she happened to get pregnant and wanted to *keep* the foetus. Similarly there is no sympathy for women choosing to abort because their life depends on it. Going back to my original tweet, I said it because I used to work as an advocate for women in abusive relationships and have seen firsthand the violence inflicted on women for being pregnant in the first place. 30% of all domestic abuse begins in pregnancy. This is because the pregnant partner is suddenly vulnerable and dependent. Controlling abusive people use this to their advantage. It’s not uncommon for perps to threaten forced miscarriage, the idea that they put the foetus in there and they can also take it out should the victim refuse their every whim. There are people who cannot grasp the complexity of human relationships, and crisis points, relationship breakdowns, never mind the systems we have created to control people according to kyriarchy so it is a bit of a reach on my part to expect compassion.

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You are not representative of almost 8 billion people worldwide.

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76% of women faced a further incident of violence for having the audacity to leave. The period after a survivor leaves the perp is the most dangerous, “if you leave I will hunt you down and kill your kids”. 

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This guy thinks we should run all decisions by him because it’s all about him. It’s not and he is nobody.

This assertion that complete strangers have of themselves as the saviours of the unborn would have more merit if they were willing to consider the life of the pregnant person but they cease to be human from the point of conception instead acting as a vessel for the precious new life everyone’s going to forget about once it moves out of the uterus. The pregnant person will be left with the foetus they did not want.. What’s that you say?

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Complete strangers think it’s ok to tell me to sacrifice my body and wallow in the guilt of my unwanted pregnancy which I’ll then have to hand over to a stranger, the system, uncertainty. Pregnancy can be life threatening, from the phsyical difficulties to the mental strain it can put on a person, no one has the right to torture you for having the misfortune of being born with a uterus. If pregnancy doesn’t kill you then labour might. Cis men have no say in the abortion debate because they will never carry a foetus or suffer the fallout if things go wrong. The reason they are so vocal on the anti-choice scene is because they are redundant if they do not exert patriarchal power and control. They won’t ever create life so they control it.

From the frightening to the downright ridiculous, opponents of bodily autonomy reveal more about themselves than the people they target, they’re nosy and perverse, poking around in strange uteri.

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Ah, Americans.

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I keep looking for the illegal thing I’m supposed to have said but to no avail.

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If a person is feeling suicidal cos they’ve been forcibly impregnated, an abortion is life saving and I would go as far as saying therapeutic in terms of their recovery, and regaining control of their own life.

Every single one of these people and the many I didn’t document failed to see the hypocrisy in their words. The life of the foetus cancels out the life of the person carrying it, without whom the foetus wouldn’t exist at all. Personally I’m not here to change your thoughts on abortion or bring you round to my superior way of thinking – something anti-choicers may want to examine in themselves – but to ask you to cast the first stone only when you can say you are completely sin free.

Also, this stance on abortion seems to be as far as they’ve got in terms of a world view and how that actually works in practice. They’re all ‘save the foetuses’ but how many of these advocates shared the same enthusiasm for the precious lives of Syria’s existing children, rejected by Europe, asleep in the freezing cold, barely surviving? Or the fully formed babies with given names blown to pieces in Palestine? How about the severely disfigured infants of Fallujah? Selective outrage makes a mockery of the whole pro-life movement. The planet is exhausted by our reproductive efforts, live viable children are treated as though vermin, domestic abuse blights the lives of some of those foetuses saved by those ignorant of life in its entirety, yet hellbent on power and control. That’s all it is.

Why the truth matters to me

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Growing up a stranger in the place of your birth is disorientating. Asides from the challenges one might encounter when starting at a new school, like making friends, children with foreign parents have to overcome additional obstacles in order to fit in. They must learn another language sometimes, as I did, but language is one of those things small children master within a surprisingly short period of time. Other barriers to assimilation are not so easy to tackle and there are so many, it’s no surprise people from ethnic minorities suffer disproportionately with poor mental health.

When you are told you are, but also feel, a member of the underclass, you either buy into the narrative – especially when you’ve not been taught to think critically – or you seek to distance yourself from the perceptions others have of your people. You buy into their hate or your own, in a bid to survive, but to survive well. Self-love just isn’t an option. I was conscious of the lies I needed to tell if I had any hope of accessing the world I wanted to belong to as early as age 6 when I decided I wanted to be called Sam. Even for one so young and innocent I had an inkling Sam was a name they just couldn’t mess with. It was English for a start. I didn’t have to spell it out every time, or have people poke fun at it, whether my peers or teachers (who should have known better). Even at this age I knew I had to change who I was if I was to have a fighting chance in life.

Racism wasn’t the only thing that informed the shaping of an identity that sat at odds with who I was inside. In fact as time went on, it became less of a conscious thing and something I normalised, and believed everyone did. Of course I now know this isn’t true, that many people are born into their identities and have the freedom to express them without the judgmental white gaze waiting for them to slip up.  Or the limitations of a violent home, living your days in fear of attack, never knowing where the next hit was coming from, desperately trying to cover up the evil truth from outsiders, in case they confirmed you did actually deserve the abuse you endured.

I was bubbly and outgoing, smart and organised, my mouth permanently fixed in a smile. I was part of the school council, a class monitor, a straight A student, a member of the quiz team and captain for rounders, netball and cricket. We were the champions of it all. None of the teachers would have guessed the situation at home was escalating, that we were living in fear and self-harming. My personality was split early on, through necessity; I had to be two different people in order to survive. Entering the big wide world as a teen on the run, I had to invent another persona to fit in with all these interesting new London types from all over Europe and beyond. When I left school, I left my world, my friends, my life behind. I had to learn how to speak in a way that didn’t set southerners off in a fit of giggles at my dulcet Brummie drawl. I had to be flexible if I was going to make it, whatever it would take. I lapped up my token status as the one who wasn’t like all the others, as though this was a reflection of my amazingness and not a divisive and racist microagression used by white people to remind you of your place (not so worthy but not so bad either, a reminder to keep doing what it is you’re doing for cookies), and keep you from questioning their problematic views.

Of course I didn’t know then that I didn’t have to be so amenable. I was on the run from a culture I had rejected because of the ways in which it made me a target and was desperate to adopt new ways to help me blend in. I became so many different things to so many people; I forgot who I was and what I wanted. I lived a life where I was manipulated by people who identified this willingness to please and then exploited it. I was used and abused, scapegoated. I was called a liar for keeping secrets I was too afraid to share. A gestalt therapist I accessed through my work noted that I smiled when I spoke of negative things and asked me to consider the incongruence between my words and my body language. I had become so jumbled up in my thoughts I began to dissociate whenever I was afraid. There was drug abuse, promiscuity, domestic abuse in my intimate relationships whilst I struggled to hold down a job as an advocate fighting for victims of domestic abuse. I was my own best example of bad practice though it did have the bonus of making me non-judgmental, however hopeless a situation might have seemed, I believed it was essential they had access to the same support. Cops for eg are less likely to want to help repeat victims, especially those who may have been warned off from being a witness previously (cos it’s all about them and paperwork, not an infectious social disease).

I couldn’t find my way out of my living hell. I couldn’t access the support to do so because then people would know my secret; that I was ugly and horrible, and undeserving of love and respect. That I should die. My adult relationships confirmed the self-hatred I had as a small child; nothing I did would ever change the fundamental flaw from within, my low social standing as the daughter of immigrants who never did escape the ghetto or the colonial mind-set (despite the straight As) and respect for hierarchy (within patriarchy). I was a slag before I had even kissed a boy, they must have known what I would grow into I reasoned.

A tragic incident in my personal life provided the catalyst for PTSD. All the feelings I’d ever suppressed bubbled to the surface and consumed me. I existed, and that’s all I can say for my consciousness over the period of a year except that I never want to go back there. With the right support, I was able to identify the pathways responsible for the ‘random’ panic attacks. I sorted the snapshots in my mind onto the correct collages and vowed to trace them back to the first triggers so that I could beat them. In order to do this, I have to be 100% honest with myself and everyone else or the carefully constructed administration of my mental health will fold in on itself.

A huge part of my recovery is about owning my genuine mistakes and experiencing them in a way that doesn’t cripple me with anxiety (the white commentariat can go to hell for the ways in which they hindered my progress, not forgetting the PoC who’ve perpetuated the lies about me).

Don’t lie to (or about) me; I will come at you with the rage of a woman who knows she is being gaslighted, because it triggers a collage of all the people who’ve knowingly put me in harm’s way, by minimising, denying and erasing my experience of things. I always feel a little crazy following a spat with people who lie because it hits me hard in a way you cannot appreciate. Sunny Hundal occupies the same brain space as the mosque teacher who molested me and continued to enjoy the kudos of being a holy man. Helen Lewis triggers the same feelings as the guy who molested me at 15 then said he’d heard I was a slag so thought he’d try his luck. That dude denies to this day that he ever put a finger on me.

If I say something and it seems dishonest to you, run your concerns by me, to my knowledge I am always telling the truth. I do however appreciate the arbitrary nature of most things so if you know better, do tell. I won’t lie and say it doesn’t help if you’re already a friend, coming at me with criticisms, however well intentioned, won’t end well if we’ve barely exchanged a RT, or even the bare minimum of support considering the shitehole the internet can be (and has been towards me).

Mother, do you think they’ll drop the bomb?

“Your mother, your mother, your mother”. That was the premise of one of my favourite Islamic children’s books as a kid, referring to a hadith (kinda like the gospels) where the prophet responded to a follower that mothers take not only first place in our hearts but second and third also, with fathers coming in fourth. I may have been 8 years old but I believed in those words more than I appreciated at the time. I simply did not have a relationship or bond with my dad, I couldn’t understand the point of him to be honest but I clung to my mother and she favoured me out of the four of us, her right hand Sam, always eager to please and whip the rest of them into line.

I can’t remember exactly when we drifted apart, it was more a collection of events that drove a wedge between us until we were so estranged from our relationship as mother and daughter, we forgot how to speak to one another. I was determined to fit into the white western ideal of acceptable behaviour and presentation which at the time translated into wearing very little and getting wasted and of course this would actually frighten my very traditional mother from a village in a remote part of Kashmir, especially when daughters who go bad are often attributed to a mother’s loose morals, regardless of the actual circumstances – violent father, violent household, cultural and religious demons and attitudes, societal pressures and expectations of brown girls in a white world.

To preserve her own honour she had to reject my behaviour by turning her back on me. She was probably disgusted by me to some degree. I did fry up a load of pork sausages in her kitchen once, out of defiance which made her promptly throw up in the sink. I felt hella guilty as the severity of what I’d just done dawned on me but I had a point to prove that I was an individual with the right to self-expression, however much my mother’s stomach flipped at the thought I was destined for hellfire.

The cause of the rift between us was largely down to the society we found ourselves in. These days I see you coming, suss out your intentions within the first few sentences but as a young person, microagressions had a different effect on me. I bought into them and believed if I was more like my white peers I wouldn’t be targeted for the colour of my skin. I wore a cross, I did goth, changed into hipsters and crop tops on the bus into school or town, joined in with the paki this, paki that, keen to make the distinction between them and us but it meant denying my very being, the people who brought me into existence and the way we are perceived by the ‘natives’ of this island. They tolerate us as long as we toe the line.

In the process of rejecting all the labels required of me, and finding self-love I remembered what it felt like to feel close to the woman who had given birth to me, 2 months premature, having carried my twin and me carefully in her 5ft frame up until then, and how I could still love her after so many years apart. I reverted back to using my ‘mother tongue’ with anyone who could understand it. For years I struggled to communicate effectively in my first language, perhaps because I didn’t have the comfort of just speaking without being judged on my grammar. Like anything, you become rusty without practice and of course I was busy showing off my English language skills to demonstrate how much I really belonged here. It’s like riding a bike though, as I discovered when I sat down with my mum, for the first time in almost decade, neither of us expecting the other to apologise for abandoning one another, just two women with an understanding of the lives we’d been forced to lead; violence being a feature whether in the home or on the streets.

It was nice. She was older but less stressed and receptive to me, as me. I felt as if we’d glued together the gap in our relationship, and we could continue from this point forward without having to look back; an unspoken understanding that there was no agenda only life reminding us how painfully short it is. I was thrilled to feel at home and close to her once again. She seemed genuinely proud of every little thing I could do, without the usual expectations one has of an individual in a white western patriarchy. She doesn’t care about my lack of a job or mortgage or husband. I had surpassed her expectations by coming back to her and apologising for choosing this country over her.

When I was a kid I sneered I had no idea how I had come from her body and was composed entirely of her and my dad. I looked down upon them, thought them unintelligent and unrefined. Whilst I cannot say this has changed about my father, I take back the judgments I made about her. I judged her through the White Gaze™ and it doesn’t treat women like my mother very well. It considers them weak and unattractive, an easy target, and she was targeted, even when she had four under 5s in tow. I blamed my mother the victim for the abuse white people subjected her to. I am ashamed I put her through this.

My mother is a highly intelligent individual. She has a self-awareness that is missing in most people. She taught herself English by reading our textbooks over the years. I wasn’t even aware of her level of comprehension until one day she flipped at me for lying about my whereabouts, because she’d actually been reading an email I’d sent to my friend over my shoulder and I hadn’t bothered to cover it up assuming she didn’t have the first clue.

Never underestimate a woman of colour. We haven’t had an easy ride of it so we’ve gotten good at adapting to our surroundings. I know where I got these skills from now and it was a joy to talk politics with her over a cup of tea. I wondered what she could have been if she wasn’t a housewife and mum of four at the age of 21. What could she have achieved if she hadn’t been abused by my father and abandoned by her own family who lived thousands of miles away? They thought they had done their best by her, 1 of 8 daughters, by marrying her off and to a young man living in England too. They hadn’t anticipated the power and control that would govern her life.

This Mother’s Day, the first for me in almost a decade is a special one. I’ve bought her some comfortable shoes, biscuits for diabetics and a posh card to make up for all the ones I never sent. I’m excited about it, and looking forward to wishing her a happy one. For a while it was a day of triggers and self-hate, because under the defiance and stubbornness of underlining my grievances I actually felt unworthy of her love. I felt abandoned. I had burnt that bridge by rejecting who she was for some fake promise of acceptance if I assimilated with the white people of this land.

I was wrong and I am sorry. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom (I’m a Brummie by birth, alright?) x

Happy International Emancipated Womanist Day

Every year I think about what I’m going to do for my international women’s day post and each time I spend far longer than is necessary thinking of a suitable introduction. Wishing you a happy one never seems right, it doesn’t feel like a day for celebration rather one where we honour those who’ve died at the hands of the patriarchy by never forgetting their names and the authorities that failed them, and the struggle that continues for many more women just like them; the ones who suffer in their homes (never mind the sexual harassment in the work place, educational institutions and streets).

Over 2 years ago I wrote a piece where I pleaded with white feminists to acknowledge the rape culture on our own doorstep and whilst it received positive attention initially, certain white women became overly focused on the word ‘white’ than the double standards I was intending to highlight. That was the last time Caroline Criado Perez said anything nice to me before she proceeded to explain away my concerns as though I was just being sensitive to an otherwise sound ally who wasn’t just fishing for cookies.

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It was when I had my first run in with Helen Lewis too, she’d read my blog and agreed I’d made some good points but she’d already commissioned an Indian woman to talk about the rape problem India has as a nation. They failed to see how they were being racist by contributing to the narrative of eastern savages whilst erasing the truly brutal incidences of gang rape in the UK. They refused to acknowledge me as a woman with a foot in both worlds, belonging in neither, brimming with criticisms of patriarchy whatever the colour of his skin. Perhaps this is why Lewis chose to stamp me out before I could do any real damage to her superiority.

If my experiences of physical and sexual violence were inadequate (how, I don’t quite understand, am I not a fucking woman?) then surely my experience as a women’s worker assisting victims of male violence would be all the qualifications I’d need?

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No, even when you have the expertise of a career, training in awareness and advocacy and almost a decade’s worth of professional experience you can be dismissed and discredited as someone with a chip on their shoulder because you dared challenge the status quo. I challenged white supremacy and the same women (and men) castigating us for speaking up about abusive women (cos cisterhood) then made a very public example of me and the violence they enabled hasn’t relented since. You all know this story.

At any time any one of these white media ‘feminists’ could have advocated for me. But y’see they responded that it wasn’t about me cos I’m not a woman? People like Laura Bates freely admitted to not even knowing what feminism was before they were discovered online yet her feminism is more valid than mine; a queer disabled femme presenting woman of colour with working class roots and historical abusers intermittently threatening my personal space and sanity. Laurie Penny lends her support with the caveat that Helen Lewis is an inspiration (she uses the same words every time) for all similarly minded ignorant arrogant white feminists and we should stop bullying her cos her fragile mental health never once hearing the agony we express at their treatment of us. The ways in which these women have personally silenced me, having once been ‘comrades’ on the same side, triggers the same PTSD response in me that I feel whenever I run into an old abuser. My blood turns cold and I get a stabbing pain in my chest. The room sways. I feel the tears prick my eyes and the sinking sensation in my gut that the privileged will never face the consequences of their cruelty and hypocrisy. The fact that I know, and they know but no one else seems to care or notice.. It’s the same physiological reaction in me.

Tell me, what space should I occupy? At one time I was an operational asset, recruited to represent the ethnic division of the ill fated Feminist Party but picking that apart was the beginning of the end when I realised I could no longer ignore the injustice for my own place at the table. Pariah I may be, but I live each day with integrity, truth and humility. I have been accused of believing my own hype (cos I let men abuse me so that I could build a career on it later) and also of not being very intelligent or worthy but also super smart and privileged when they pretend they don’t believe your story (we exemplify rape culture in this country).

So it is with this in mind that I want to emancipate myself from a movement within which I have no voice. It’s not for my lack of trying, look, I told you 3 years ago the movement was fractured and we’d lose it if we weren’t honest with ourselves. I’ve had enough of feeling my heart break whenever a feminist I looked up to comes out as a transphobe or a polarising token. I cannot say there are more good feminists than there are bad. I cannot in good faith ally myself with a corrupt, vindictive subset of women wearing their £45 ‘this is what a feminist looks like’ t-shirt on behalf of us all, for all those who cannot access the internet and seek their own truth. I realise now that many of the reactions I’ve had for identifying as a feminist comes from the image the world has of feminism; white women behaving like entitled white men to the detriment of us lesser beings.

Happy International Emancipated Womanist Day from me, an ex-feminist who finally gets she can never be a feminist, not like they want me to be.

(I dedicate this post to all the Muslim women suffering at the hands of white men and feminists claiming race is not a feminist issue)

Understanding the domestic abuser

It takes on average 33 separate attempts to leave an abusive relationship. Lots of to-ing and fro-ing as the survivor reconciles taking these steps with the end of her relationship. It’s not so easy to leave when he is the father of your children or you have a joint bank account. How to leave a relationship without alerting the perpetrator to your plans? If he knew you were leaving he might attack you to teach you a lesson for even daring to contemplate abandoning him; after all, being the King of the Castle, he makes all the decisions, he decides when he’s had enough of you. Domestic violence charities have specific safety plans and risk assessments for this dangerous time; survivors are advised to pack their essentials but to do so slowly, over the course of a week or two so that he doesn’t notice things are missing. If he did there might be a sudden and severe escalation in abuse; 76% of women fleeing abuse faced another incident of violence for having the audacity to leave. What if somewhere in the process of fleeing, the decision to leave your abuser is taken out of your hands? Say you’re a famous TV chef and the man abusing you is Charles Saatchi.

Was Nigella in the process of leaving him? When abusive men strangle or attempt to choke/suffocate their victim, it is to remind them that they control their lives so far as controlling their very breath. In the standard risk assessment completed by DV charities and also the authorities, the question regarding strangulation is given special consideration even if the survivor doesn’t score very highly on others. This is because it is a very serious act and implies intention; it is a threat to kill. This question coupled with a handful of others can result in an immediate referral to a multi-agency risk assessment conference. The police will most likely be involved; many MARACs are coordinated by the local police. If the police wish to refer a victim for support, domestic abuse agencies must establish consent from survivors before pursuing any action to support her, EXCEPT when the risk of harm to the survivor and/or her children trumps the right to confidentiality. This wasn’t just a slap in the face, he didn’t pull her hair; he was letting her know that he could kill her if he wanted to.

Nigella had the right to confidentiality taken away from her. She wasn’t given the opportunity to leave in her own time. We don’t know how long Saatchi had been abusing her but we can say for almost certain, a man who is publicly strangling his wife is used to wielding that kind of power and he is Saatchi, he knows power, he owns power. He didn’t suddenly become enraged at her worsening behaviour or drug abuse as he likes to paint it. In which dimension is it ok for ANY person to justify their violence by smearing the victim as some kind of junkie who needed putting in her place? Especially when women’s workers, independent domestic violence advocates like myself know that substance misuse is a coping mechanism for many survivors. Women experiencing domestic abuse are 15 times more likely to misuse alcohol and 9 times more likely to misuse other drugs than women generally. Many women are introduced to drugs by their abusive partner, they are used to control the victim or in fact, used as an insurance policy should she decide she wants out. “If you leave me, I’ll make sure social services know you’re a druggie. All it takes is a drugs test”. This is what Saatchi is doing now. Humiliated for being the pig that he actually is, his male ego cannot cope with the way he has been exposed. So he ups the ante, he’ll teach her for not standing by her man. Like many abusers, he knows that he doesn’t need to speak to her directly to continue controlling her. He can tell his story to the old boys and they’ll print it in their papers and he can watch her lose her contracts from afar. Domestic violence has a higher rate of repeat victimisation than any other crime. Leaving is not a cure.

Saatchi knows what he’s doing here; he knows that this version of events is something the British public will lap up. Everyone likes to laugh at the addled pop star, their misfortunes being a source of entertainment for people with boring little lives and a serious lack of humanity. Everything can be explained away by their erratic drug induced manias. Nobody likes to think of the peace many drug abusers are seeking. Nigella has been harangued for using drugs some of which she was prescribed, was she taking drugs for depression/anxiety? I don’t think any of us would be surprised if she was. I would actively encourage her to keep taking them not shame her as though that is all we need to know about her character.

What we’ve seen here is a classic example of rich powerful man holding more control than rich powerful woman. It’s a patriarchy and this incident serves to remind you of that. If Nigella, with her wealth and connections can suffer this sort of fate, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Happy International Menz Day!

I’d like to spend today thinking about all the special menz I have to thank for my fierce feminism. Sure the menz in my family will dominate a thought or two but there are also all of the others. I want to commemorate the dude I shared a house with once. He wanted to get in my pants, would slap my arse as I walked past. Once, when I’d made it clear I’d rather have herpes, he stood in his bedroom doorway at the top of the stairs with a pair of clippers. I needed to walk past him to get down the stairs but obviously couldn’t what with this Neanderthal threatening to shave off my hair. It was a little while before the third housemate came home. I think he deserves an extra big pat on his back for being such a strong, brave manly man.

There’s also that judge whose face I’ll never forget. He ruled that my client was sexually assaulted by her husband but he was under duress due to the fact that she had involved another man, a friend of the perpetrator’s, to protect her from the domestic abuse she had been suffering and so he could be forgiven for thinking she’d had an affair. The perp got away with it. The judge took into account his rather special job and didn’t want it to look bad on his record or something. We continued to support her post trial and defeated, she often asked why she’d bothered going through the system. It simply didn’t make sense to her that a judgement of guilt wouldn’t result in some support for her. She also felt ashamed and embarrassed at the insinuations made by the defence lawyer, that she was promiscuous and had caused her husband to react in way where he would claim what was his. I kid you fucking not. She remained married to him. I wonder where she is now and if she’s still alive. I’ll be knocking back a vodka or ten to toast the judge tomorrow. Without International Menz Day, men might stop being judges and lose all control.

But you don’t have to be a judge to celebrate #IMD. You could be the guy I inevitably have to avoid eye contact with when I leave the house today. You might be walking ahead of me and turn back every few steps so that you can look at me, your eyes sizing me up. I hope you’re wondering about the slim chance that I might be a black belt but really I’m already beginning to think the worst. You guys, you really are the best. You need International Menz Day to remind you that you need to man up, be strong, be silent, beat a guy up if the need arises, ALWAYS get the girl *chest bump* You’re the dudes that might as well be talking about corpses when it’s just you and the boys talking about how many girls you would if you could. I’ve been part of the privileged inner circle of the male world and it’s bad. I think it’s probably even worse without me there. On International Menz Day, why not go all the way and just say how you really feel. It is your day after all.

I won’t lie, the thought of all the good men, nice guys crawling out the woodwork for this momentous occasion is quite nauseating but then, it’s not like we haven’t had a day like it before.

Take yesterday for example.