An every day story of domestic violence

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It has taken “The Archers” radio soap to focus public attention on the subject of domestic violence, with the saga of Rob and Helena Titchener.

Essentially, sociopathic Rob (married) swanned into the fictional agricultural Shangri La of Ambridge and swept flaky Helen Archer off her feet. After divorcing, he swiftly married Helen, obtained Parental Responsibility for her IVF conceived child, then made Helen pregnant after an act of marital rape. To all and sundry in Ambridge (unlike the listeners) Rob became a pillar of the community, a hero rescuing people from flooded properties (when he was probably responsible for the flood!) and turning the hapless cricket team into an all conquering, well oiled machine.

Matters came to a head in this “Gaslight” story when Helen, now way beyond her tether, stabbed Rob. She is currently on remand in prison where she recently gave birth and where a criminal trial awaits. The injured but recovering Rob is currently seeking custodial care of both children.

The story line has highlighted various extremely interesting and unusual legal points and challenged certain long held (but wrong) perceptions, such as:

(a) Should a child or stepchild automatically reside with its mother or (if the mother is in prison) the child’s maternal grandparents?

(b) What does ‘Parental Responsibility’ actually entail?

(c) Who registers the birth of a child if the mother is in prison but particularly if each parent (as in “The Archers”) wants to register a different name?

(d) What assistance is there for a victim of domestic violence, particularly when such domestic violence/abuse is of a psychological nature?

To some listeners this particular storyline has now come off the rails, with much of what has happened indicating that the scriptwriters need a legal consultant, just as much as an agricultural one.

However, it has taken this oft derided radio programme (originally broadcast by the BBC on the opening night of ITV) to bring domestic violence and coercive behaviour, which even a decade ago resided in the backwaters, very much into public consciousness and awareness.

WSP have an experienced Family Team who can assist you in any problems arising out of domestic violence or child related disputes. To find out more call 01453 832381, contact us or visit one of our offices in Stroud or Gloucester.


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