Silence Is Violence. Don't Stand by and Watch - Act Instead; Domestic Abuse Experts Say They're Shocked No One Stepped in When They Saw TV Chef Nigella

Article excerpt

Byline: Clare Johnston

THE pictures of millionaire Charles Saatchi clasping his wife Nigella Lawson by the neck in a restaurant have caused outrage.

Yet though diners watched these alarming scenes unfold just feet away, none seemingly intervened.

Saatchi, 70, has dismissed the incident as a "playful tiff", describing it as an "intense debate about the children".

While no official complaint has been made by TV chef Nigella, 53, police are likely to question the couple.

For many, it's shocking that, had these pictures not been published, Saatchi might never have been challenged about his behaviour. It raises wider questions about our role as onlookers.

Dundee psychologist Dr Andrina McCormack, who has worked with victims of domestic violence, says aggressive acts in public are often about control.

She said: "Whether you're a millionaire or on the dole, aggressive acts in public are sometimes about humiliation and controlling someone else.

"The central issue is the control of another person and interfering with their personal space and dignity, and nobody has the right to do that."

Lily Greenan, manager of Scottish Women's Aid, hopes the incident will help inform the public about what is unacceptable behaviour.

She said: "Several people who were witnesses spoke to the press afterwards but didn't feel able to intervene at the time, which is disheartening.

"I hope people can understand you can challenge this behaviour. We all have different definitions of playful but the descriptions of what happened don't sound like play."

Graham Goulden, chief inspector of Scotland's Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), believes if men behave aggressively towards their partner in public, it raises serious questions about what goes on in the home.

He said: "I can't comment on this specific incident but if someone is behaving in an aggressive way in public, what's actually taking place in the house? "If a man has the confidence or ability to do that in a public place, what is he doing in a private setting? "Most men are law abiding and caring but there are a few who get a sense of privilege and power from our silence and lack of intervention.

"Even the silly sexist joke - it may sound like political correctness gone wrong but we know where this acceptance can lead to.

"We have a lot of young girls in society who see being hit and controlled as part of a relationship and that's something we need to change. …