nigella lawsonYesterday, we reported that Charles Saatchi had a violent argument with his wife Nigella Lawson that resulted in his hands around her neck at a restaurant. In the paparazzi pictures, Nigella appears “petrified” and “helpless” to quote other reports. Onlookers describe her as crying and “scared.” But husband of the year Charles wants you to know that these are all just signs of a “playful tiff” between married folks. “Playful tiffs” do not include crying and neck grabbing. Like ever.

The London Evening Standard reports that Saatchi’s comments on the incident are the couple’s first since Nigella was pictured leaving the restaurant. The art collector told the outlet:

“About a week ago, we were sitting outside a restaurant having an intense debate about the children, and I held Nigella’s neck repeatedly while attempting to emphasise my point.

“There was no grip, it was a playful tiff. The pictures are horrific but give a far more drastic and violent impression of what took place. Nigella’s tears were because we both hate arguing, not because she had been hurt.

“We had made up by the time we were home. The paparazzi were congregated outside our house after the story broke yesterday morning, so I told Nigella to take the kids off till the dust settled.”

Huge newsflash here but if in any argument you need to hold your partner’s neck to “emphasize” your point, then that’s a highly dysfunctional and categorically abusive partnership. End of story.

While Saatchi’s statement is obviously intended to walk back rather damning photos of him publicly arguing with his wife, his word choice — or that of his publicist — provides an even more problematic and disturbing insight into abuse. The whole hardy har har, it’s so funny when I abuse my lady nonsense is something we have seen before, and will unfortunately see again as from Chris Brown to Hugh Hefner, there exists this notion that partner abuse just isn’t that big a deal. Why else would Hugh suggest that his son and his punched girlfriend try and “patch it up?” Or Twitter go ablaze with female Chris Brown fans asking why Rihanna made such a big deal about being smacked around?

This blasé attitude towards abuse is pervasive and Nigella Lawson is not alone in being the brunt of it. And it must be the way everyone wants it, because that’s the way it is.

(photo: Dan Jackman/WENN.com)