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Tracy Schorn Headshot

Kissing Your Abuser

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I've been following the story this week of Charles Saatchi choking his wife Nigella Lawson. For those catching up on it, the billionaire jerk was dining with his celebrity chef wife Nigella Lawson and there was a fight, in which he grabbed her neck -- not once, but repeatedly, behaved menacingly, yelled at her, she wept and then -- the part she's getting crucified for -- when he stopped, she kissed him.

Saatchi minimized his actions and said it was a "playful tiff" and he was holding Lawson's neck to "emphasize his point." You know, I wonder how that goes down at stockholder meetings for Saatchi. If he doesn't have everyone in half-Nelsons. Choking being an acceptable form of communication for the guy.

Clearly Saatchi feels entitled to humiliate his wife in public. You wonder what other sort of things he feels entitled to do behind closed doors. But tongues are wagging, some in sympathy, some in condemnation, and some in bewilderment -- that as this fight was going on, she pleaded with him and she kissed him.

When I read that I totally could relate. I was once married to an abusive man. I too endured scenes and threats. When I read about that kiss, I knew then that Nigella Lawson was part of the chump collective. If you haven't lived with Mr. or Mrs. Scary yourself, well perhaps you can't relate. Lawson was doing a version of the Pick Me dance, a cha cha we'll call Placate You. It's based in that same mistaken assumption that if we're just kind enough and worthy enough, the abuser will Stop Doing Terrible Things.

Look how much I love you. Look how wrong this is. See how devoted I am. See how I am trying to stay calm in the face of your rage. See how I am trying to disarm your accusations that make no sense to me. Let's try to figure this out together. Let's try to achieve consensus. Don't you love me? I know you love me. I love you. My love for you will rise above this. My love for you is better than this way you are behaving right now.

And so she kissed him.

Some say she "submitted" to him. That's one way to look at it. I see it as two people on totally different wavelengths. Lawson doesn't understand that, as Dr. George Simon says about manipulative people "It's not that he doesn't see, he disagrees." He wants to be abusive. He knows what the accepted rules of conduct are in public when dining with your wife, when fighting with your wife, and they do not apply to him. He feels entitled to treat her like sh*t. No, not just entitled, he gets off on it. It's about controlling her.

Nigella Lawson still thinks it's about love. And that is why she kissed him.