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  1. Wealth
August 15, 2013

Responses to Spear's articles on domestic violence and the wealthy

By Spear's

Since I’ve started writing about domestic violence and the wealthy, I’ve received a number of touching tweets and messages from women who are glad to see the stereotype of ’victims’ of domestic violence challenged

Since I’ve started writing about domestic violence and the wealthy, I’ve received a number of touching tweets and messages from women who are glad to see the stereotype of ‘victims’ of domestic violence challenged. The aim of the article was to breach the silence around this, and we seem to be making headway.

Wealthy women do face unique difficulties, as Jane Evans, a trauma parenting specialist, highlighted on Twitter:

Not what you’d expect

Kerstin Zander emailed Spear’s to tell us about the online messaging board she set up in Germany ( to provide a forum for women who are experiencing, or have experienced, domestic abuse to share their experiences and seek advice and support. 

In a phone call, Zander told me that when she started out, she was surprised by the types of women who used the site: ‘At the beginning I thought you’d get the typical woman who’s on the internet a lot, my stereotype was of a 22-year old house wife, if you know what I mean… but what happened was we had a great number of academics, doctors, lawyers, people in banking, financial advisers, tax advisers.’

Her decision to launch the message board was motivated by a desire to raise awareness of the non-physical aspects of domestic abuse: she believes verbal and psychological abuse can be just as harmful, if not more so, than physical harm and she speaks from experience. 

When she started the messaging board, she said, ‘I had just come out of such a relationship, I couldn’t understand what had happened to me, I was a shadow of myself. My boyfriend also was violent physically, but that didn’t really matter. When such a person is violent physically it’s almost relieving because that’s tangible, that’s something you can call violence. The other thing, you can’t call it violence — you’re brainwashed, you’re told 10,000 times a day that you’re imagining it all, it’s your fault, your worthless.’

Bit by bit

The build-up to this psychological abuse is often incremental, and to illustrate her point, she invited me to imagine that I’d met the most wonderful man, we’d had a perfect honeymoon period and then suddenly, at a lovely dinner, out of the blue, this happens: 

‘Your new love says, “Wow, I can’t believe they published that piece you wrote yesterday, did you give your editor a blow job?” And you’re totally shocked. And then he says, “Can’t you take a joke, did you really think I meant it that way?” and you can see it in his face he meant it that way.

‘And then he accuses you of believing he could have meant such a thing. And this is how it starts.’ I found such a concrete example chilling, perhaps because it seemed so realistic and everyday.

She mentioned that ‘I’ve heard some statements of men who’ve said, “I’d be stupid if I could ever hit you, because then you’d have proof.”’ I thought again about the comments I’ve made earlier on the cases involving Saatchi and Lawson and the C&A heir.

In both instances the acts of physical violence so publicly revealed were relatively minor, in the sense that they inflicted no lasting physical damage. The worrying thing is that we have no idea what kind of psychological or verbal abuse may have been taking place too. And whether you’re rich or poor, this kind of psychological abuse can be devastating. 

I’ll leave with one more tweet I received from Charlotte Davies, because it’s worth emphasising:

Thank you to everyone who’s got in touch with me — let’s keep talking about this.

Read more on domestic violence from Spear’s

Read more by Sophie McBain


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