Monday 8 September 2014

Iron woman

[Trigger warning: this post talks about domestic abuse - it is not graphic, but does refer to violence in relationships]

I have come to the conclusion that Helen in the Archers is the new Little Mo from Eastenders. I predict an 'I am woman hear me roar' storyline in the future where the scales finally fall from her eyes and she sees the cheating lying Rob Tichner for what he is and exacts a suitable revenge on him. In Little Mo's case she clouted Trevor round the head with an iron. I suspect with Helen it would either be a whole wheel of cheese if she was at work or one of her son Henry's stickle bricks in an awkward place if she was at home.

Woman in abusive relationships is an ongoing and much repeated storyline and I'm not entirely sure why it's so popular or common. It's not like a woman is going to hear it and suddenly think, "Oh ok, now I see. I have to leave my home with my children and go away from this place and be in the bosom of my loving soap opera family."

I have both witnessed and lived with bad relationships. I don't mean stealing your moisturiser bad. Or a refusing to call you back or turning up for a date about 3 hours late bad. I'm not even talking about the one where they deny you broke up with them so that their record of always being the one who dumps and not the one who is dumped remains intact. Yes, all of these have happened to me in real life. In fact most of them were the same person.

What I mean is actual physical and psychological harm. The first was revealed to me on arriving early to help set up a birthday party for the 6 year old child of a friend. They hadn't arrived yet and when they did I asked the birthday girl what had happened and she told me that Daddy had hit Mummy and made her bleed. I was horrified and she looked so sad. When her parents walked in all smiles she did the same and it wasn't mentioned again. To my shame I didn't ask them about it and years later when he had been in rehab and was sober he told me he used to hit his wife. I was so angry with him for it and with myself for not talking to her about it. For not asking if she was ok. I don't know if she'd have told me anything as I was an old school friend of her husband's. I still should have talked to her. At the very least been a friend to her. I should have because I had been in a bad marriage myself.

My Little Mo moment came when I went to pick up my things from the flat I had shared with my first husband and he was there trying to stop me. We argued over a dish drainer that had cost 50p from Woolworths - I left it behind - and other petty things. He threatened me and I looked at him, all 6 foot 4 of him and said, "if you're going to hit me, just do it." He went quiet and I packed the car and left. I call it my Little Mo moment - even thought it happened years before the storyline - because it also involved an iron (although not as violently). I don't iron, I just don't. However, I took the iron with me. Maybe out of spite or maybe because I had paid for it. I just don't know.

So, this came to mind when I was listening to the Archers last week. How standing up to a bully is terrifying and you don't want anyone to know how pathetic you've been to stay with him for so long. You know how at the end of programmes they now say, if you've been affected by any of the issues in this programme call this helpline ? They don't do that in the Archers and I really felt angry, bitter and upset. It was like a trigger that took me back to a place I had forgotten. A person I don't recognise any more.

It's only a soap, but it's not made up. Women stay in bad relationships - as do men - because they have no choice or because they are manipulated to stay. I did. I hope Helen realises soon that this is not a good relationship and that she and her son are better off without Rob.

I can lend her an iron if she needs it.


  1. Such a powerful post. Sometimes it helps to go over past events and realise we've managed to move on, but it must have been difficult when the Archers storyline threw you back to those times.

    1. I hadn't appreciated the effect it had on me until I had a really strong reaction. Thanks for reading and taking time to comment xx