JK Rowling describes ‘violence’ in first marriage

JK Rowling has spoken in more detail about her experience of domestic abuse in the first episode of a new podcast, The Witch Trials of JK Rowling.

The podcast, hosted by Free Press and presented by Meghan Phelps-Roper, explores the author’s life and the controversy surrounding her statements about transgender rights in recent years.

Rowling, 57, first revealed that she survived domestic abuse and sexual assault in 2020, when she wrote a personal essay defending her comments about transgender people.

Speaking to Phelps-Roper in the first episode of the podcast, which dropped today (Tuesday 21 February), Rowling claimed that her marriage to ex-husband Jorge Arantes became “very violent and very controlling”.

She said she didn’t have a “key to my own front door because he’s got control of the front door” and alleged that whenever she did leave the house and returned, he would look through her handbag.

Rowling also claimed that Arantes “knew” how much her Harry Potter manuscript meant to her and that he once tried to hide it from her.

Following the initial revelations that Rowling had suffered from domestic abuse, Arantes admitted to The Sun that he “slapped” her but denied any “sustained abuse”. He added that he was “not sorry for slapping her”.

“I suspect that if I wasn’t able to get out [of the marriage] with everything, he would burn [the manuscript] or take it or hold it hostage,” Rowling alleged. “That manuscript still meant so much to me, that was the thing that [I actually] prioritised saving.

Rowling, pictured in 2005, is the subject of a new podcast documentary series (Getty Images)
Rowling, pictured in 2005, is the subject of a new podcast documentary series (Getty Images)

“The only thing beyond that that I prioritised was obviously my daughter, but at that point she’s still inside me, so she’s as safe as can be in that situation.”

Rowling and Arantes’ marriage lasted 18 months between 1992 and 1993. They share daughter Jessica Isabel Rowling Arantes, who the author described in the podcast as “amazing” and “wonderful”.

Elsewhere in the podcast, Rowling opened up about going through her “traumatic” miscarriage before Jessica was born.

She said that losing the baby was “traumatic physically and traumatic emotionally” and was “another massive loss” after her mother died over a year earlier.

Rowling said that her mother’s death was unexpected and “took a wrecking ball to my life”. Anne Volant Rowling was 45 when she died of complications linked to multiple sclerosis.

Anyone who requires help or support can contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline which is open 24/7 365 days per year on 0808 2000 247 or via their website www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk/