This week I sponsored a friend to run a marathon, and on visiting his Justgiving page I was surprised to see it listed above the ‘Helen Titchener Rescue Fund’. If you’re unfamiliar with the glacially progressed plotlines of Radio 4’s The Archers, this will mean nothing to you. But it refers to an unnervingly realistic story of domestic abuse which has infiltrated the regular fare of prosaic village intrigues.
The truly chilling thing here is the restraint. The villain Rob Titchener is not a drunkard who speaks with his fists, but a softly spoken urbane sociopath who leaves bruises on the soul – undermining his wife’s self-confidence, isolating her from friends and family and poisoning her relationship with her son. Her mental and physical health is suffering as he slowly exerts total control over her life.
It’s a common strain of domestic abuse, but often difficult to recognise – even for those who suffer it. So it was good to see the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) stress its effects on mental health in welcoming a new NICE standard on domestic abuse this week. The iHV has done some good work here, training health visitors to recognise the signs of a scourge too often hidden in plain sight.
On the radio, Helen is still in peril, but her rescue fund has raised over £60,000 for the domestic abuse charity Refuge. The greater good may be in raising awareness that the wife-beater is going out of fashion. Instead watch out for the smoothie in a suit, the one who kills with words.
Mike Shallcross, acting editor, Independent Nurse