Women’s Aid responds to Fiona Bruce’s Question Time comment on abuse, “it was a one off”.
Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said:
“At Women’s Aid we were shocked last night to see the Question Time presenter Fiona Bruce state, in response to a comment that Stanley Johnson was a ‘wife-beater’, that “friends of his said it did happen, it was a one off”. This comment was unnecessary and irresponsible. We know at Women’s Aid that domestic abuse is rarely, if ever, a ’one-off’, with the vast majority of abuse being a pattern of behaviour that includes different forms of abuse. In this case, the survivor has been quoted saying she was always being hit by Johnson, and that she was not allowed when married to Johnson to have a car, possibly indicating controlling behaviour. Even if abuse is an isolated event, it would have still been domestic abuse, and this should never be minimised.
We are particularly surprised to hear this comment from Fiona Bruce, who has previously campaigned against domestic abuse with us at Women’s Aid and other domestic abuse charities, and has spoken publicly about her friend’s experience of abuse.
Question Time is a flagship BBC programme and carries with it authority over the narrative. The narrative that domestic abuse can be dismissed as a one-off is harmful, and influences how seriously the public take domestic abuse. Our recent report into public perceptions of domestic abuse shows what a long way we have to go to shift public attitudes that enable and tolerate domestic abuse in our society, and last evening’s comment illustrates exactly this.
We ask the BBC to take this seriously and have clear guidelines on how domestic abuse is referenced across their programmes and channels. The BBC has a huge platform, and with it comes a significant responsibility. For us to end domestic abuse, we need to work together to not only address the support needs of survivors, but address the attitudes that enables domestic abuse to not only exist but thrive across society, as perpetrators are not held to account.”