The harrowing domestic abuse storyline on The Archers has finally reached a conclusion. Coodes Solicitors Family Lawyer and domestic abuse specialist Sarah Evans says that the approach taken by the BBC radio 4 series showed how abuse can take many forms.
“Listeners to The Archers witnessed the relationship between Rob and Helen Titchener switch from romance to isolation, humiliation and assault. The plotline demonstrated that abuse does have a pattern and that perpetrators of abuse can be very manipulative. Perhaps the most realistic aspect was the fact that Rob and Helen’s relationship developed gradually over time. The Archers’ plot covered physical and sexual abuse, but most of the storyline focused on the gradual increase in coercion and control of Helen.
“At the end of last year, the law changed with respect to domestic abuse. This followed a consultation by The Law Commission on ‘Offences against the person’, which looked at whether domestic abuse could be made a specific offence – separate from other violent crimes. The definition of domestic abuse is now much wider and encompasses controlling, coercive behaviour.
“We can offer specific support to those who wish to end an abusive relationship including a planned leave with the assistance of various domestic abuse agencies due to the raised awareness of this issue. Legal Aid is also available for victims of domestic abuse regardless of whether or not the abuse is physical.
“Despite this change in the law, I have not seen a radical shift in awareness. Many of the victims I see still do not initially recognise that the name calling, coercion or controlling behaviour their spouse or partner is subjecting them to is abuse. There is still a perception that if a woman has not been physically assaulted she is not a victim of domestic abuse.
“Although one third of women will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lives, many victims still report feeling that they are alone or that it was their fault. Hopefully Helen Titchener’s story has reassured these women that their situation is not unique.”
For further advice and assistance on any of these issues, contact Sarah Evans at Coodes Solicitors on 0800 328 3282 or firstname.lastname@example.org.