The actor Sam Beckinsale, star of ITV’s London’s Burning, is one of the faces of Allie Crewe’s photography project I Am, aimed at drawing attention to the problem of Domestic Abuse. Interviewed in The Observer (24thApril 2022) Ms. Beckinsale said, “Even when the cage door is open, it’s difficult to step out, but I’m stepping out now by doing this project. Whether there will be a backlash, what the outcome might be, I have no idea. I do feel vulnerable, but knowing what I know about coercive control, if I don’t speak up, my silence is complicit.”
She is to be applauded for her courage, but this talk of complicity is nonsense. It may feel restorative and empowering to become involved in a project like this, but the victims of domestic abuse should feel under no obligation to rush back into the battlefield of hostility and online abuse that comes with all campaigning, these days.
Survivors, of all people, should be entitled to a little quiet time recuperating. They are neither enabling nor profiting from domestic abuse by doing so. Domestic abuse is universally condemned, so its persistence must have some other cause than not being abhorred. By calling herself “complicit”, Sam Beckinsale is straying remarkably close to the self-blame that domestic abusers rely on to prevent their victims from asking for help or walking away. Is this evidence of the lasting harm her abuser has done her, psychologically?
I suspect, in searching for the words to explain her situation and her involvement in Allie Crewe’s project, Ms Beckinsale simply reached for the buzzword of the age. Modern Social Justice campaigns no longer target only those who oppose them. Now innocent bystanders, even allies are to be coerced into supporting the cause, to give it power and traction. Blame, shame and angry accusation are the cattle prods used to keep us in line and docile; the threat of condemnation and social exclusion are the whips that drive us stumbling forward.