Helen's ordeal prompts surge in donations for Refuge charity

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A charity appeal inspired by the domestic abuse plot line in The Archers has raised more than £150,000 for Refuge.

The latest instalment of the BBC Radio 4 soap saw character Helen Titchener acquitted of attempted murder after stabbing her abusive husband Rob in front of her young son Henry.

Thousands of fans made donations to women's charity Refuge, which supports victims and their children fleeing from domestic abuse.

Paul Trueman, who set up the JustGiving page, said he started the campaign "because for every fictional Helen, there are real ones".

The Archers trial ( Julia Quenzler/PA)
The Archers trial ( Julia Quenzler/PA)

He said: "I have been absolutely bowled over by the thousands of comments left on the page and would urge everyone to take a look. They speak both to the scale of the lives affected as well as the healing power of charities like Refuge to help families put their lives back together."

Sandra Horley, Refuge chief executive, said: "Never before in my 33-year career at Refuge have I seen such amazing public support for our work. I am humbled by each and every one of the almost 7,500 individuals who have supported this fund."

Louiza Patikas, the voice of Helen, joined actress Helena Bonham Carter in a charity march around London on Sunday to raise awareness of domestic abuse.

Helena Bonham Carter
Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, and Helena Bonham Carter (Yui Mok/PA)

Speaking at the event Louiza said: "Playing Helen in The Archers has taught me a great deal about the horror of domestic abuse and coercive control, and also introduced me to amazing people - the most courageous survivors of abuse, and the wonderful people who work for and support charities like Refuge."

Women's charities have welcomed the outcome of The Archers storyline and praised the scriptwriters for bringing the issue into the public's focus.

Ms Horley said: "The trial of Helen Titchener may now be over, but the impact of The Archers' storyline will continue.

"By broadcasting such a realistic portrayal of abuse, the BBC has shone a light on the insidious, controlling nature of domestic violence and raised unprecedented awareness of an issue that has long been considered taboo.

"Refuge is grateful to The Archers' team for bringing the daily reality of abuse into people's living rooms and kitchens - now, more women will know how to recognise abuse and where to get support."

Polly Neate, chief executive of Women's Aid, said: "We wish we could say that all survivors have an experience like Helen: that their judge and jury recognise why she was driven to attack. There is an acute failure throughout the criminal justice system to understand the dynamics of domestic abuse - especially coercive control.

"More specialist training on domestic abuse is needed for all who work in both the criminal courts and the family courts - especially judges."

Statistics show that around 46% of women offenders are domestic abuse survivors, according to Women's Aid.