For the uninitiated , The Archers is a long running soap opera , that revolves around the village of Ambridge in the imaginary county of Borestshire. It is probably tame ranked alongside the ranks of Eastenders and Emmerdale, but it is balm for the soul in the way a sponge pudding and custard is on a cold winters day. However lately it's been tweaked, with the introduction of a domestic violence story line that has made the news and sent some of it's followers into a flurry of tweeting and shouting at the radio.
It had all calmed down recently, the major villain of the piece Rob, had supposedly left the village with his tail between his legs, after being sacked from his job. Not so easy, this episode saw him coming back to kidnap the baby , who he was only supposed to have supervised contact with. The baby he insisted, for months was called Gideon, even though his registered name was Jack.
It's not real is it? Plus its all a little bit far fetched. The trouble is it isn't. I know myself of a very similar situation, hence the tears welling up, where an abusive husband took young daughter and threatened that his wife would never see her again. It was me. I still remember the absolute panic, in fact as I write this that familiar surge of adrenaline is kicking in. This happened one afternoon after he had held a knife to my throat, threatening to kill me, he then grapped my daughter and the car keys and marched out leaving me hysterical. I had been kicked, strangled and slapped before , but it was this threat to my daughter that finally made me dial 999.
The police officer who attended could not have handled the situation any worse. I was not to worry, he had probably just gone out for a drive. He did come back and the constable said he had to arrest him, but as he was obviously just having a bad day he would not handcuff him. He was not charged. I do hope Helen has a better reaction.
The name thing sounds a bit far fetched also doesn't it? No once again , I have a friend whose child has borne completely the wrong name, throughout their childhood, because the Father unilaterally decided to change it when registering their birth.Not because he was particularly bothered about his children, but simply because he was a dominator whose opinion is the only one that mattered within the family.
This is the stuff that is happening behind closed doors, all around the country, it is based on fact, children and adults leaving in fear every day. It's the stuff of trauma as well, living with drama does absolutely nothing for self esteem and stress. The victims deserve understanding and compassion not trivialisation of their pain. They need a ladder to get out of their hole not dirt shovelled in on top as unfortunately so often happens to a significant minority. A helping hand to find a way out of the shame that keeps them silent and enlightenment about how not to fall into holes in the future.
I have come out stronger of my personal hole, by grace the right people came along, showed me the way out,plus explained how I fell in in the first place. I still fall sometimes, but not as deeply and get up considerably quicker. I even have insight and on a very good day compassion for the abuser and the system that re-victimised me. There needs to be change, starting with education around domestic violence so there are less real life Helens.
I am thrilled that the Archers has covered the domestic violence story line, it has opened some many people's eyes and hopefully it has a lasting impact , it's worth the tears.