Entertainment

Emmerdale to tackle coercive control domestic abuse storyline

The plotline will centre on Belle and Tom King.

The newly married couple are played by Eden Taylor Draper and James Chase
Emmerdale The newly married couple are played by Eden Taylor Draper and James Chase

Emmerdale will explore the nature of coercive control in a domestic abuse plotline involving Belle and Tom King.

The newly married couple, played by Eden Taylor Draper and James Chase, have just returned from their honeymoon on the ITV soap, but there are already signs that all is not well.

Viewers saw Belle question whether she was making the right choice on the night of her wedding, and she is now starting to lose perspective on what a normal relationship looks like.

Eden Taylor Draper
British Soap Awards 2023 Eden Taylor Draper (Danny Lawson/PA)

The programme has worked with outside partners including domestic abuse charities New Beginnings Peer Support and Refuge to develop the storyline.

As the plot develops, Tom will start using different methods of technology to assert his control and surveillance over Belle, to reflect the rise of tech abuse and the use of monitoring devices since the Covid pandemic.

Producer Laura Shaw said: “Soaps are in the extraordinary position of being able to highlight what happens behind the public face of an abusive relationship, over a longer period of time.

“The audience knows these characters so well, sometimes as well as they might know their own friends and family, and they care deeply about them.

“As harrowing as it can be to watch this type of storyline play out, it’s imperative that we use our platform to shine a light on domestic abuse, and help give a voice to people who have so often been silenced.”

Emma Pickering, head of technology-facilitated abuse and economic empowerment at Refuge, said: “Refuge is pleased to have had the opportunity to work with the writers and producers of Emmerdale, to develop the storyline between Tom and Belle and show viewers the sad realities of domestic abuse.

“The show will be exploring the multi-faceted and complex nature of domestic abuse, with various manifestations of abuse, including coercive control, emotional abuse,  physical abuse, and technology-facilitated abuse, all set to be displayed by Tom over the coming weeks.

“The show will also highlight how abuse escalates over time, as well as some of the common tactics used by perpetrators such as isolation from family and friends, love bombing, and manipulation.

“Domestic abuse is sadly all too common, with one in four women experiencing some form of abuse in their lifetime.

“It is important shows like Emmerdale explore these types of storylines, and work with experts such as ourselves when developing these on-screen portrayals so viewers can be informed about domestic abuse and how it presents and learn to recognise signs of abuse in the real world.”

Draper said she was “fully aware” of the responsibility of navigating such an important storyline.

She added: “It is an important story to tell. Soaps offer the viewer a glimpse of life behind closed doors and reveal what people present to the world isn’t always a truth.

“The sad reality is that behaviour like this in a relationship is all too prevalent.  I hope we do this story justice. And if people are in a situation like this they should definitely get help.”

New Beginnings Peer Support chief executive Lindsay Olive said: “As an after-crisis service we see the longevity of the trauma resulting from domestic abuse and firmly believe preventative measures are key.

“We therefore very much welcome Emmerdale covering this storyline to highlight the realities of domestic abuse, red flags within a relationship and the challenges of leaving.

“Domestic abuse remains a hidden pandemic and the more information in the public domain to increase awareness, the higher the chance of perpetrator behaviour being recognised and victims gaining the support they require.”

Refuge’s 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline is available on 0808 2000 247 and digital support via live chat Monday-Friday 3-10pm via www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk.

Latest Entertainment Videos