So the story in Ambridge is evolving and continues to shine a light on the complex realities of domestic abuse, children, and the law.
Helen is struggling to give a full statement on the events of the evening where Rob was stabbed. Not only does she have to resolve this, but she will need to get to the stage where she can fully articulate the abuse she has been subjected to, and think hard about evidence she can produce to demonstrate it.
Not least of which because we’ve now heard Rob giving his own version of events. I mentioned last week of the scale of manipulation and deceit which the perpetrators of these crimes can present, and listeners are now hearing that first hand. Helen would be well advised to point her Barrister in the direction of Rob’s previous partner, whose evidence would start to throw a different light on his portrayal as a seemingly hard done by husband of a deranged wife.
And then we have Henry, clearly relieved to be reunited with his Father, we shouldn’t under-estimate Rob’s ability to manipulate the young boy. Some might be concerned about this given Henry is a witness. But at this stage a prosecution witness and therefore no constraint on his ability to have access to his father.
Rob appears to be laying the ground for a custody claim on the boy, with his suggestion in his statement that Helen is a danger to her child, citing events such as the scalding bath, which listeners know were manufactured by him.
Coercive control is a crime based on exhorting control over another. It is not uncommon for access to children after separation to be the vehicle for that control, where not only are victims subjected to intimidation by an abusive partner in the family courts, but women experience the desperation of being unable to protect their children from further abuse.
Encouraging then that the All Party Political Group on Domestic Violence this week published a report, supported by Women’s Aid, which highlights 7 ‘calls to action’, including the urgent need for an end to cross-examination of survivors of domestic abuse by their abuser in the family court, and expert safety and risk assessments in child custody cases. https://www.womensaid.org.uk/party-group-calls-for-end-to-cross-examination-of-survivors-of-domestic-abuse-by-their-abusers-in-the-family-courts
Finally, I wonder if listeners of the Archers might start to learn more about stalking, a crime which is horribly common when a victim of domestic abuse makes a decision to leave. In time one assumes Helen will find her way out of prison. If so we shouldn’t forget the chilling words of Rob when Helen said she was leaving him – ‘you’re mine, wherever you are I’ll always be there’; Perhaps a hint of things to come?