|The beautiful Nigella|
So much has been said about those pictures - about what is happening in them and whether they should have been taken at all. For the record I think;
a). There is nothing "playful" about putting your hands around someones neck
b). How the hell did people watch and take pictures instead of intervening?
c). Those pictures should not have been published
d). The fact that they were published has opened a very taboo subject up to discussion and this is valuable.
e). What Nigella Lawson chooses to do is her business but I have no doubt that her actions will be interpreted by the abused and their abusers to validate their own choices (see (c))
f). I feel very sorry for her that she has been so publicly put in this position
I wish I could unsee those photos. I have a very low tolerance of violent imagery. Aside from that, those images remind me of an uncomfortable truth.
Before I had ever been in love, I firmly believed that if a man ever intentionally hits a woman, then she should leave straightaway. No second chances, no forgiveness. Respect yourself, be strong, get out. All this despite witnessing domestic abuse first hand. I grew up in a small community and heard screams and saw bruises. And all of the women stayed.
But I don't think the issue of domestic abuse is so black and white for me anymore. I realised this pretty soon after I realised I was in Love with Che.
(Obvious disclaimers here - I am referring to a singular strike as opposed to a "beating" and also Che is the most gentle man I've ever met and I believe he would absolutely never ever hurt me)
One day, before we were even married, I was lying in bed watching him get ready for work and knew how difficult it would be for me to leave him. To give up on us. Were he ever to strike me in a temper (it's totally silly to even try to picture it but I think too much) I knew I would hear him out and give him the benefit of the doubt. Love had weakened my resolve. As empowering as love can be, I think it also has the potential to be debilitating.
But I've now come full circle again.
Now that I know Che more fully and believe more strongly in the reality of our love and relationship, the idea of staying is even more anathema to me. When I thought I'd stay, I was naively separating the physical action from the emotional relationship and not realising the impossibility of holding onto the latter after allowing the former.
Were Che to ever strike me, it would be the end of our being together. It would signify the presence of all those scary things (disrespect, dominance, inequality, violence, fear) that have no place in the loving, equal marriage that we celebrate together. As hard as it would be, leaving would be my only choice. To stay would be to live a lie and I respect myself and us too much for that.
So all this is to say that I can understand why women don't leave immediately. Why they fight quietly for what they thought they had. I am now more compassionate towards and less judgemental of women who stay. But that's not to say that I wouldn't advocate leaving.