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Whilst not everyone may be an avid listener of The Archers on Radio 4 which is usually based around the sedate fictional rural village of Ambridge, the latest Archers storyline has hit the national press with even at one point #thearchers trending on Twitter. The storyline which has ignited a national debate, sees Helen Titchener suffering prolonged abuse at the hands of her husband Rob which recently culminated in her stabbing him as she finally prepared to leave him.
Whilst at the moment, he is still alive, she has still to be arrested for the attempted murder of Rob who is apparently 'lucky to be alive'. The challenge now for Helen will be to try and prove the abuse she has suffered.
As well as physical abuse, Helen has been a victim of psychological abuse including her husband dictating how she had her hair, what clothes she wore, when she was allowed to leave the home, having her keys taken off her, and being alienated from family and friends and even her son.
However, what has been eye-opening to some listeners is the horrendous abuse that has occurred over the last 2 years have left no physical scars on Helen and apart from Rob's ex-wife being aware of his controlling behaviour, no one else - not even her mother - has picked up on his behaviour. Much of the abuse, as in real life, has taken place behind closed doors where there are rarely witnesses.
It is worth remembering that since 29th December 2015, a new offence has come into force under Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015, of "controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or familial relationship".
There is also the possibility that Helen could have applied for a non-molestation order against Rob. This is a civil court order which aims to protect her and any children from Rob's controlling behaviour. Some of the terms of the order can include for the perpetrator not to come within a defined area of the family home, not to attend a child's school or contact the victim, directly or indirectly. Should the non-molestation order be breached in any way then the Police will automatically arrest the perpetrator without warrant and they will then appear in the criminal court where they could face imprisonment for up to 5 years.
The positives of the storyline have included that a funding page to raise money for Refuge, a domestic violence charity has reached over £107, 000. Whilst the situation is fictional, many victims of abuse have endorsed the storyline as being realistic. The appeal states that for 'every fictional Helen, there are real ones'
Whilst at times the storyline has been harrowing and too traumatic to listen to for many, it has opened a dialogue regarding often hidden behaviour and highlighted to many that just because someone doesn't have a black eye they can still be a victim of abuse.
If you or someone you know is or has been a victim of domestic abuse, and that you believe you may still be at risk from the perpetrator, please contact our family solicitors on 01743 285888 who have experience and expertise to apply for a non-molestation order on your behalf. It is also worth remembering that despite many cuts to legal aid, it is still available for applications for non-molestation order.
Whilst it is too late for Helen's predicament, it is not too late for you.
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