It’s been a busy 2 weeks in the life of Helen, and all those around her.
In this time we’ve seen Henry put in permanent care of Rob, Helen’s mother is now a prosecution witness much to her dismay, and Helen pleaded not guilty on all counts (just!), but was refused bail. She now faces over 4 months on remand ahead of the trial in September, during which time she will also give birth.
What can we take from this?
Well first and foremost what you are seeing is the handling of Helen and her path through the criminal justice system as a perpetrator, not a victim. It would appear that few attempts have been made by the investigation team to understand the context of the attack. For them the facts are clear and Henry’s evidence is pretty black and white.
Not helped because Helen has been unable to give a coherent account. She is exhibiting very common symptoms of trauma – confusion and inability to recall events in a sequential manner. And there’s an interesting dynamic where, after a long period of coercive control and the knowledge that Rob has survived, she would appear to be understandably nervous to stand up for herself and recognise her own needs and identity. This is very common in victims of sustained coercive control. Spare one thought however for the scenario where Helen had been killed by Rob, the truth would never have been known and he would have had free reign to use a number of defences available to avoid a murder conviction.
We’re hearing little of Henry and how things are with Rob and his mother. Perhaps more worryingly we are hearing nothing of any support or therapy he is receiving, but listeners shouldn’t be surprised. This is a very real reflection of true life, where children are often the forgotten victims. Despite increasing evidence that early intervention can have a material impact on long term wellbeing and recovery http://www.eif.org.uk//wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Early-Intervention-in-Domestic-Violence-and-Abuse-Full-Report.pdf
It is my hope that in the waiting period leading up to the trial the programme takes the opportunity to showcase some of the examples of getting it right for children affected by these crimes – only time will tell.