A domestic violence charity has seen visits to its website increase fourfold since Charles Saatchi was seen assaulting his wife, Nigella Lawson, in public.
Charles Saatchi arrives at his home in Chelsea, London Photo: REX
The surge follows the publication of photos showing Mr Saatchi with his hand around the television cook’s throat.
He has since accepted a police caution for assaulting her.
Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, said: “Following the publication of the photographs on Sunday, Refuge experienced a fourfold increase in visits to its website, refuge.org.uk.
“Domestic violence is not a private matter, it is a huge social problem that affects the whole of society.”
But the charity warned that cautioning perpetrators of domestic violence “does not act as an effective deterrent.”
Ms Horley said: “ACPO [Association of Chief Police Officers] guidelines state that cautions are rarely appropriate in domestic abuse cases.
“Research shows that domestic violence is rarely a one off. We should never ignore that first slap or shove, because over time violence can escalate in frequency and severity.
“In the most extreme cases, domestic violence can be fatal.”
In England and Wales, two women a week are killed by a current or former partner, while on average a woman is assaulted 35 times before she calls the police for help, the charity said.
“The police need to treat domestic violence as seriously as any other violent crime,” Ms Horley added.
“We must send out a strong public message that domestic violence will not be tolerated and is against the law.”
Ms Lawson, 53, was said to have had “a real look of fear on her face” during the row with her husband on June 9 at Scott’s restaurant in Mayfair, London.
She left the restaurant in tears.
The incident prompted a widespread debate about domestic violence, with charities warning it was “extremely prevalent” although many women feel too embarrassed or ashamed to tell anyone.
Polly Neate, the chief executive of Women’s Aid, said that the “massive, massive issue” of domestic violence could only benefit from more open discussion.
SOURCE: The Telegraph