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Richard Madeley has issued a public apology following heavy criticism for advice he gave in response to an enquiry about possible domestic violence, which included the line: 'If they were going to kill each other, they'd have done it by now.'
The journalist and broadcaster shared the comments in his Agony Uncle column in The Telegraph, after a reader wrote in to say they were concerned about the "bangs, crashes and shouting" they heard nightly from neighbours.
The worried neighbour wrote: "I am an absolute advocate of people doing what they want in their own homes, so long as it does not harm others."
This advice is alarming @richardm56. In many Domestic Homicide Reviews the neighbours were aware but did nothing thinking it was a 'private issue'. Saying 'I think they're both just fine. If they were going to kill each other, they'd have done it by now" is unhelpful. Pls retract https://t.co/oV2pEUTPyW pic.twitter.com/mZQhBdndFm- Gudrun Burnet (@GudrunBurnet) June 29, 2020
"But due to the strange nightly activity and fighting, I feel conflicted, as things just don't seem right," they continued.
The anonymous enquirer went on to say they feared that not taking action would lead to regrets further down the line.
"I worry that something could come to light in the future and I would feel guilty because I did nothing, despite a gut feeling that things are not right," they said.
In response to the letter, Richard wrote back saying that he believed "drink is at the root of this".
He went on: "I'm betting this couple like to hit the bottle when the sun goes down and that's the obvious explanation for the crashes, bangs and yelping."
The presenter then suggested that a lack of visible evidence of abuse meant that domestic violence was unlikely, and told the sender to "stop worrying".
He wrote: "If some sort of serious abuse was involved you'd have noticed it (in the form of black eyes, cut lips and the like, or late-night visits from the police after drunken 999 calls)."
He continued: "You could try that; a polite, controlled "intervention". But I'd stop worrying that things "aren't right".
"If they were going to kill each other, they'd have done it by now."
A string of domestic violence charities have criticised Richard's comments, which gained attention when the article was circulated on Twitter.
Sharing an image of Richard's column, Gudrun Baller of Standing Together Against Domestic Violence, wrote: "This advice is alarming @richardm56.
"In many Domestic Homicide Reviews the neighbours were aware but did nothing thinking it was a 'private issue'. Saying 'I think they're both just fine. If they were going to kill each other, they'd have done it by now" is unhelpful. Pls retract."
Hi https://t.co/2QCm7KNHsf critics 2day are absolutely right - I misjudged this one, tonally and in content. SO annoyed with self. Have reached out this afternoon 2 various people to apologise+will address it in Saturday' paper. Mea Culpa.- Richard Madeley (@richardm56) June 30, 2020
Refuge - who offer specialist support for women and children experiencing domestic violence - also spoke out against Richard's comments, tweeting: "This is appalling and dangerous advice @richardm56. Women live in fear of their partners across the country - many are isolated and alone; Literally trapped. Women's lives depend on people calling out abuse. We support @GudrunBurnet to retract this ASAP."
Domestic abuse outreach abuse charity SafeLives also joined the debate, with a tweet reading: 'We want to join the chorus of voices calling out this jaw dropping column from @richardm56. To be clear: domestic abuse does not have to mean "black eyes, cut lips" to be dangerous. It is not a private matter, and if you are worried that someone is being harmed, call the police.'
Richard has issued a public apology for his remarks, saying that they were "misjudged".
Taking to Twitter, the columnist wrote: "My critics today are absolutely right - I misjudged this one, tonally and in content.
"SO annoyed with self. Have reached out this afternoon to various people to apologise, and will address it in Saturday's paper. Mea culpa."
Lockdown has seen a surge in domestic violence, with ITV news reporting in late April that charity helplines had seen a 50% increase in calls, while domestic abuse killings had doubled.
Domestic abuse or violence is a crime and should be reported to the police - call 999 if it's an emergency or you're in immediate danger.
You can also call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline for free and confidential advice, 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247.
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