06/03/2017 12:37 GMT | Updated 07/03/2017 10:28 GMT

Broadchurch's Julie Hesmondhalgh 'Fed Up' With The Way Sexual Violence Is Shown On TV

'I am absolutely sick of seeing young women being chased through woods by predators.'

‘Broadchurch’ star Julie Hesmondhalgh has called for the way sexual violence is portrayed on TV to change.

The actress is currently playing the victim of a rape in the latest series of the ITV drama, and has told of how she hopes her performance as Trish Winterman will help change perceptions.

Julie Hesmondhalgh on 'Broadchurch'

Speaking to Rape Crisis, Julie said: “I know there have been massive conversations recently about the televising of it and I have got fed up of it. I am absolutely sick of – even on programmes that I love – seeing young women being chased through woods by predators.

“Seeing dead women on slabs being cut to pieces after terrible acts of violence have been enacted on them. And I think that’s become so normal for us as viewers of television that we’ll even happily sit and watch that with our young teenagers.

“I’d like to see that really overturned. I’m really glad that conversation has started. This can happen to absolutely anyone. It is not an act of sex, it is not an act of desire – it’s an act of violence.”

The former ‘Coronation Street’ star continued: “The scale of sexual violence seems to me to be like an epidemic. It affects something like 85,000 women in England and Wales and 12,000 men every year. It’s like four an hour. I think everybody will be staggered by those numbers.

Julie plays the victim of a violent sexual assault

“I’m sure a lot of people still think it’s a situation where you’re taken in the back of a car to a cop shop with a couple of male officers, very roughly handling you and not really believing you.

“It was very important in the team to break through that and show that things have changed. ‘Broadchurch’ really wanted to show that you’ll be treated from the point of view that you’ll be believed.”

Juile has already won high praise of her role as Trish in ‘Broadchurch’, with fans calling for her to clean up at the next TV awards. 

In harrowing scenes, Trish reported a violent sexual attack to police officers DI Hardy (David Tennant) and DS Miller (Olivia Colman), as the drama showed the reality of the procedures rape victims go through in the immediate aftermath. 

Of course, this is not the first time Julie’s acting skills have been recognised, as she won praise for her final ‘Coronation Street’ storyline, which saw her character Hayley Cropper complete suicide, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

She later won an RTS Award for Best Performance In A Continuing Drama and a National Television Award for Best Serial Drama Performance as a result.

‘Broadchurch’ continues on Monday (6 March) at 9pm on ITV.

Photo gallery Broadchurch Series 3 See Gallery