Tuesday, 21 February 2012

TV talk shows - irresponsible to broadcast interviews justifying domestic violence

This morning on ITV’s talk show ‘This morning’ I watched an interview with former soap star Natalie Cassidy, in which she talked about how she had taken back her abusive partner because she believed he had changed.

Natalie Cassidy ended her relationship with Adam Cottrell after he became violent and abusive. Violent enough that she felt the need to take out a restraining order against him.

However after appearing on reality TV show Celebrity Big Brother, Cassidy decided that she wanted him back. He has apparently admitted to being an alcoholic and is seeking help, and she said he has changed and they are so very happy together.

Natalie Cassidy is a grown woman and is free to make whatever decisions she sees fit. I feel sad that she has come on national television and excused this man’s behaviour by saying that she wound him up because of his drinking/that he is only violent when drinking etc and that he has changed. But it is her life and she is free to do what she likes.

But I have an issue with this interview being broadcast in the first place. Not personally, but on a wider level.

Statistically, abusers do not change. There is of course an exception to every rule, but on the whole, it is unlikely for an abuser to change, and many women leave abusive relationships multiple times before ever finding the courage to leave for good.

This Morning is watched by millions of viewers on a daily basis. Many of these viewers will be women in abusive relationships, or perhaps even women who have recently left abusive relationships who might be wavering about whether to go back.

So imagine watching a show on national television, where a young, seemingly strong woman tells you that abusive men can change – after all, it’s happened to her. How many women will believe that it’s possible after watching this? No woman wants to believe that the man she loves is the monster he potentially might be. Therefore, any woman in an abusive relationship wants to believe that her abuser might change, and yet statistically it is very rare. But how many will believe it’s possible and take another chance, possibly putting themselves in danger?

Natalie Cassidy has been back with her partner for a matter of months now, and I can’t help wondering whether we’ll be seeing her back on This Morning in a year’s time talking about how he didn’t change after all.

But in the meantime her interview has helped perpetuate the myth that abusers can change.

This morning has a responsibility to their viewers, many of whom will be vulnerable. For them to broadcast this interview with no counterbalance saying that it is rare for abusers to change and that the preferred course of action should always be to leave, is completely and utterly irresponsible.

1 comment: