A campaign to raise money for domestic violence victims has had a huge surge in support after listeners of a radio play were moved by the plight of a fictional character abused by her husband.
Long-suffering Helen Titchener snapped after two years of been controlled, physically abused and raped in Radio 4’s ‘The Archers’, a dramatic storyline on Monday that ended with her stabbing her husband Rob in front of their son.
A donations page was set up in her honour earlier this year because “for every fictional Helen, there are real ones”, its founder, Paul Trueman, said.
But after the tense climax of Helen's struggle to free herself from her husband's grasp, contributions to the crowdfunder spiked significantly.
Listeners have now contributed over £92,000, just short of the £100,000 target. The money will help fund services that change and save lives.
Refuge, who support 3,700 victims on any given day, hailed the "overwhelming generosity" of donors and said they were "so grateful" for the support at a time when it faces cuts to 80% of its services.
Sandra Horley, the charity's chief executive, told The Huffington Post UK: “Refuge has been overwhelmed by the generosity of The Archers’ listeners – so far, more than £92,000 has been raised, and the total is still rising.
"We feel very lucky to be benefitting from this amazing sum, via a Just Giving page set up to support the character Helen Titchener.
"Refuge supports 3,700 women and children on any given day. The services we provide do not just save lives, they change lives – our staff give survivors the building blocks they need to build new lives, free from violence.
"Yet since 2011, Refuge has experienced funding cuts to 80% of its services, with some being cut by up to 50%. This is why the money being raised is so vital.
"The £100,000 target is almost in reach. That figure could pay for the equivalent of more than 1,600 nights in a refuge, safe from harm. If you are able to give, even a small amount, then please do. We are so grateful for the support.”
Women's Aid, another support service for abused women and children, have worked with The Archers writers to draft a realistic storyline but released a statement on Monday to explain why Helen, the domestic abuse victim, killed her husband.
The charity's chief executive, Polly Neate, wrote: "Some abused women do attack their partners after experiencing long-term abuse – often when they are fearing for their life or the lives of their children.
"We need to remember the terrible abuse that Helen has been living with for a long time – the prison that Rob has built around her, the stripping of her freedoms, the mental torment.
"Helen’s experience is very realistic, and Women’s Aid has made sure of this by advising The Archers team on the development of this storyline.”
Where you can get help:
Refuge - Domestic violence help for women and children - 0808 2000 247
Women's Aid - support for abused women and children – or call the National Domestic Violence Helpline, run by Women’s Aid and Refuge, on 0808 2000 247
Broken Rainbow - The LGBT domestic violence charity - 0845 2 60 55 60
Men’s Advice Line - for advice and support for men experiencing domestic violence and abuse - 0808 801 0327