At IDAS we were dismayed to hear Fiona Bruce repeat the suggestion that Stanley Johnson’s abuse of his wife was a ‘one-off’. We know, from many years of supporting survivors, that the use of physical violence is rarely a one off. It is usually accompanied by ongoing emotional abuse, coercion, often sexual violence, and financial control. Even where physical abuse is infrequent, the threat and fear of abuse causes lasting fear and trauma.
We understand that Fiona was quoting friends of Stanley Johnson who claimed that his violent behaviour was a lone act but she did not cite other evidence that was available, including the account of Johnson’s ex-wife, who said that she was regularly hit by him.
As an ambassador for a national domestic abuse charity and an advocate for victims Fiona should be ready to challenge the myths and misconceptions about abusive men rather than repeat them.
Along with other specialist domestic abuse charities we call for the BBC to develop clear guidelines on how domestic abuse is discussed across their programmes and channels. The BBC has a huge platform and a big responsibility. For us to end domestic abuse, we need to work together to ensure that survivors are supported and that the attitudes that enable domestic abuse to thrive are actively challenged.