Domestic violence not just crime of poor

Selina Trigg – NZ Herald 20 June 2013
On Monday morning, my breakfast was disturbed by the distaste resulting from an image in that morning’s New Zealand Herald of Nigella Lawson, eyes bulging in terror, while the hands of her husband, Charles Saatchi, were apparently wrapped around her throat. That story and the pictures that accompanied it force us to confront several uncomfortable truths about our own attitudes and culpability in respect to domestic violence.

My first reaction was to think the photo must have been photoshopped by a sensationalist British press. My mind defaulted to a place where the image conveyed of the successful and privileged Ms Lawson and Mr Saatchi by those pictures surely just could not be. As I caught myself thinking this, my initial shock was replaced with personal discomfort.

Despite 17 years of working with victims and perpetrators of domestic violence from all walks of life, I had to acknowledge that at some base level, I too suffer under a conditioned misapprehension about “who” the victims and perpetrators of domestic violence are and, more importantly, who they are not.

The uncomfortable truth that this story confronts us with is the destruction of the widely held idea that domestic violence is the dirty problem of the underclasses, the uneducated, the inarticulate.

The photos of Ms Lawson starkly jolt us to the reality that domestic violence occurs not only in the homes of the uneducated, the brown skinned or the indigent of South Auckland, but also in the manicured Remuera homes of successful, white, financially secure professionals and business leaders.