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Nigella at high risk, domestic violence expert says

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Recent published pictures showing celebrity chef Nigella Lawson being apparently strangled by her husband, the former advertising mogul Charles Saatchi, as they argued at a London restaurant give strong indication that Lawson is "at high risk of injury or death".

"If the abuse happens in public, as it did in this case, it is highly likely that it happens even more in private. Strangulation is one of the highest risk behaviours of men who abuse their partners," says Jill Proudfoot, Client Services Director of Shine (Safer Homes in New Zealand Everyday). "We are greatly worried for the safety of Nigella."

A 2007 interview which quoted 53-year-old Lawson describing her relationship with the 70-year-old multi-millionaire as "tempestuous" and Saatchi’s behaviour as "explosive" bolsters this assessment of a high level of risk to Nigella. Both terms are often used by perpetrators to minimise and excuse their violence and abuse.

Proudfoot adds, "Strangulation can lead to sudden death, or death within the following 24 hours. Nigella Lawson is at high risk of serious injury or death. There is help available for anyone in a situation like this."

Reacting to Sunday People’s article describing how the attack could be clearly seen and heard by other customers and people walking on the busy London street and yet no one intervened, Proudfoot says the power and reputation of the perpetrator could have been a factor. However, there are ways to challenge abusive behaviour without putting one’s own safety at risk. For example, if a group of people stood up and demanded that the abuse stop, it conveys the message that our society does not condone violence by silence and lack of action. Shine encourages witnesses and bystanders to such an incident to immediately phone the police as a first response.

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