Belfast Telegraph

Nigella Lawson's life shouldn't be turned into great crusade

By Jane Graham

Two weeks on, the Nigella Lawson - Charles Saatchi news story is still making headlines, with those horrible pictures – including her belongings being moved out of the marital home –still being reproduced at a rate of knots. And I find myself increasingly queasy about the way the entire episode has been handled.

Lawson has quickly become a poster girl for domestic violence awareness, without having added a single enlightening word to the frenzied discussion of her situation herself. I've even detected a note of glee in the tone of some charity and campaign spokespeople over the fact that someone so rich and attractive, a woman who prided herself on her image of running a happy family home (an image she must have been faking, numerous commentators have now pronounced) could also be a victim.

I see the point – we should understand that domestic violence can happen to anyone, regardless of their outward good fortune or strength. But I wonder how Nigella feels about becoming a symbol of victimhood and public pretence. And how her children are taking it. I have no idea because so far, she has said absolutely nothing. It has all been said for her, whether she likes it or not.

Isn't there something questionable about the long-term good of pouncing on an event about which we know little and turning it, and the people involved in it, into involuntary totems of a cause as complicated and serious as domestic violence? Isn't there a danger of caring only for the principle and little for the privacy and dignity of the victim herself? We should think long and hard before we use people's lives as tub-thumping fodder.

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