I am frequently asked, what's Rob like to play? Well it sounds trite, but - it's a privilege. The old cliche that 'the villains are the most fun to play' is in part, true (although along with 'break a leg' and 'I'm not out of work, just resting', I've never once heard it said by an actor). But Rob Titchener is more than a 'villain'. He is arrogant, narcissistic and abusive psychopath. He is also - so he believes - charming, kind, loving and selfless. Very complex, in other words. And therein lies the challenge and the thrill to the actor.
Victimhood is not a competition. There should be help for all who need it. But by cutting services for women, lives are put at risk. Of course men need support to recover from domestic abuse. But to deny that iceberg exists, to deny the roots of the still-rising tide of violence against women in misogyny and inequality, is to turn our backs on prevention.
Escaping from abuse isn't as easy as 'just leaving'. You can't get up and walk away when you decide you've had enough. I wish it was that easy. It is often a long process, a long time of wanting to do it but not knowing how. Then comes how to do it, you need a window of opportunity, a carefully devised plan of action to minimise any threat to your safety.
For the next week or so he'd randomly be waiting for me outside of work or at the station, watching from a distance so he could see me but I couldn't see him. As I type this it's a sickening thought, basically being stalked by your own boyfriend because he can't even trust you to get home on your own.
I spent half of the night messaging him and talking to him on the phone. The end result was me going home early. In my mind this was a triumph for me, I'd managed to go out. However for him, it was also a triumph, a much bigger, much more overpowering triumph. Mine dwarfed in comparison. He knew he'd won.
As the trial of Helen Titchener begins, if her plight makes you afraid for real-life survivors of domestic abuse - so it should. And if it makes you think and hope that those real-life women have a way to escape, then you should be even more afraid. I'm here to tell you that their escape route is in danger of being shut down. As actors Louiza Patikas (Helen) and Timothy Watson (Rob) have portrayed so compellingly in The Archers, the level of control a domestic abuse perpetrator can exert over his victim, over time, is total. Yet, it is also often invisible to those around her, even those who care most - or even to herself.
To the outside world, because they do not immediately dash for the door, women trapped by their abusive partners may seem submissive. In fact, they are resisting - they adopt survival techniques and actively find ways of coping. An abused woman fights, relentlessly, to keep herself and her children safe.
AIBU is a phrase that we all need to become more aware of. If something makes you feel bad, uncomfortable, afraid, you don't need anyone else's validation that it isn't right. Supporting survivors of abuse, as a friend or as a professional, is about helping the woman trust herself again and encouraging her that she is the expert in her own life. If it doesn't feel right to her, that means it isn't, no matter what anyone else says.
I believe that as women we should give Theresa May an opportunity to prove she is what this country needs. Still, a second female Prime Minister should excite us. We may not be exactly where we want to be but we're on our way there. Surely each small step we take towards progress is a step worth celebrating.
When Karen Bradley was elevated to Cabinet a space was left for a new Minister for Preventing Abuse, Exploitation and Crime. This job matters to me. This job is the one place where violence against women and girls, modern slavery, and sexual exploitation sits in Government. This is the job I want when I play fantasy reshuffle.