The BBC has written an ’all too accurate’ storyline based on the issue of domestic violence for its rural radio drama, The Archers which has seen a significant increase in calls to helplines rise.
New figures reveal that the National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Refuge and Women’s Aid, received 6,774 calls in February this year compared with 5,783 the year before, an increase of 17 per cent.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Women’s Aid praised the Radio 4 script writers for showing domestic abuse ’can happen to any woman, within any community’.
She said: "With an average of two women a week being killed by a partner or ex-partner in England and Wales, it’s vital that we do not ignore domestic abuse, or think of it as somebody else’s problem.
"The Archers has shown in an incredibly impactful and realistic way that domestic abuse can happen to any woman, within any community.
"Women's Aid is proud to have worked closely with the Archers to develop the domestic abuse storyline.
"Raising awareness of it on a national scale, as The Archers is doing, and portraying how a woman can become a victim - the slow, insidious stripping away of her freedom and self-esteem, as Rob does to Helen - will help lead to a better understanding of domestic abuse within our society."
A JustGiving page has been set up in response to the story, which sees cheesemaker Helen Titchener abused by her husband and ex-herdsman, Rob.
Proceeds to the page are being donated to Refuge, with over £80,000 raised to date.
Chief executive of Refuge, Sandra Horley said the awareness The Archers has raised is 'heartening'.
She said: "I would like to pay tribute to The Archers’ scriptwriters.
"The ‘real time’ approach they have taken to showing how a perpetrator of domestic violence controls and confuses his partner is incredibly powerful – and sadly all too accurate.
"They have brought the daily reality of the ‘hidden’ forms of domestic abuse and its more subtle and insidious elements into people’s living rooms and kitchens. To see the awareness they have raised has been heartening.
“Talking about domestic violence is still taboo, and this storyline has given Refuge an amazing opportunity to get our message out there – and perhaps reach women who may be experiencing the same kind of abuse as Helen Titchener.
"Domestic violence is a crime. No woman should have to live in fear of her partner. We all have a role to play in ending it – and today, Archers’ listeners have certainly played theirs.”