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Vivienne Westwood Opens Up About Abusive Relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Image: Redferns/Getty Images

Image: Redferns/Getty Images

Vivienne Westwood will soon release a memoir, and this weekend the 73-year-old designer released an excerpt from the tome in The Sunday Times. In it, we learn of her tumultuous relationship with Malcolm McLaren, former manager of punk rock group the Sex Pistols.

The designer reveals to the publication and the world that she and McLaren, who fathered her son Joe Corré, were in a relationship rife with violence. The turbulent relationship started, Westwood says, without much initiation from her side. She maintains that she was never really interested in McLaren, but he kept coming around so often, she didn’t know how to get rid of him. Things escalated when he got sick and needed a bed. “So I made him sleep in my bed in the daytime to get over a fever, and he stayed in there for days and then he wouldn’t get out,” she said. “And that was how we ended up having sex.” In spite of her not being too keen on McLaren, Westwood says she decided to be nice to him, which she thinks gave him the idea that she actually wanted a relationship. “I felt, you see, that somehow I’d been so kind to him that maybe he’d got the wrong idea, and it was my fault, and that I’d led him on without knowing.”

But it would be violence and abuse that colored the pair’s relationship. “I used to hit Malcolm,” Westwood admits. “One day he hit me back… He had this thing where he couldn’t leave the flat until he made me cry. He wanted to feel bad or something – he was trying to draw blood. It was simpler to give in; to give way to the tears so he would stop. Real tears have never come back for me. I haven’t cried properly since.”

It’s sad that Westwood didn’t feel like she could come forward all these years, but not surprising. Many victims of domestic violence don’t report their abusers. But with this particular issue at the forefront in the media these days, it’s becoming more important for stories like this to be told — hopefully Westwood’s experience can help another woman get out of a similar situation without it having to escalate.

Westwood’s self-titled book, co-written by the designer and Ian Kelly, is due to hit shelves October 9.

[The Sunday Times via The Independent, Vogue UK]