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Harlow-based domestic abuse charity boss comments on Fiona Bruce “clarification” on Question Time

Crime / Wed 15th Mar 2023 at 12:27pm

JANET Dalrymple, Chief Executive of local domestic abuse charity, Safer Places, has stated her frustration at the comments by the Fiona Bruce on last week’s BBC Question Time.  

Janet Dalrymple, commented in a statement on the subject: “Language matters. Minimising an incident of abuse because it only happened once is irrelevant as a defence, and incredibly harmful for survivors to hear. That goes for alleged perpetrators, and the journalists who report on them.” 

The situation on Question Time arose when journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown described Stanley Johnson, Boris Johnson’s father, as a ‘wife beater’. Fiona Bruce interjected with: “Stanley Johnson’s wife spoke to a journalist, and she said that Stanley Johnson had broken her nose and she had ended up in hospital as a result. Stanley Johnson has not commented publicly on that. Friends of his have said it happened, it was a one off”. 

Bruce has been criticised for the addition of ‘it was a one off’ as minimising abuse and has since stepped down from her role as Ambassador of Refuge UK. In a statement released on Monday, Bruce stated that her comment was simply to ‘legally contextualise’ the debate and that criticism has ‘mischaracterised’ what she has said. However, Bruce recognised the distress the debate had caused to domestic abuse survivors, for which she is ‘deeply sorry’.  

The local charity Chief Executive added: “Abuse is unlikely to be a rare event – it is a pattern of behaviours, ranging in severity, that often escalates over time. Any abusive behaviour is harmful, threatening, and deeply traumatic to go through. Characterising the incident as simply a ‘one off’ implies abuse is just one kind of physically violent behaviour that occurs in isolation, as opposed to a campaign of actions aimed to take away a survivor’s sense of safety and self.” 

The statement ends with a comment in relation to Bruce’s recently vacated position as an ambassador for a domestic abuse charity: “Fiona Bruce was an ambassador of Refuge for over 25 years, and we do not doubt the impact her work has had. It is important to remember that we live in a society that blames victims and minimises abuse. No matter how much work we put into protecting survivors, we undoubtedly absorb some of these harmful ideas.  

What matters is what we do in the future; being aware of harmful misconceptions, challenging them in ourselves & others, and recognising that our words have power – especially when our words echo louder than others.” 

– Ends – 

Link to the full statement: https://www.saferplaces.co.uk/news/safer-places-responds-to-fiona-bruce-dismissal-of-domestic-abuse  

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