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How Coronation Street is shining a light on domestic abuse

View profile for Clive Masters
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One of the questions I have started to ask clients when they first come to me for advice about domestic abuse is “Do you watch Coronation Street?”

This is because one of the current story lines concerns the character Yasmeen Metcalfe being the victim of sustained domestic abuse from her partner, Geoff.

I have to say, while there is an element of dramatic licence, overall, this storyline has been properly researched and the writers are to be congratulated in covering this topic so well. Many of the elements of domestic abuse are there. There has been a threat of violence, nothing physical but there has been threatening behaviour, loud and aggressive shouting and invading of personal space, all designed to intimidate and frighten the victim.

Controlling and coercive behaviour

An interesting theme is controlling and coercive behaviour. Geoff controls the family finances, giving Yasmeen spending money each week and haranguing her if she runs out of money. He demands that she cleans the house and checks it has been done running his finger over shelves and worktops. He has systematically isolated her from friends and family (leading her to believe she should avoid the Rovers because she has a drink problem) and from work (because of a fictitious back problem). He has also made derogatory remarks about her appearance. All this behaviour is designed to lower her self-esteem.

Whenever there is a hint of Yasmeen recognising that his behaviour is unacceptable, Geoff states that he loves her and she is being unfair to him, making Yasmeen believe she is the perpetrator, not the victim.

Sadly, these are all examples of the type of abuse clients describe to me when they come to me for advice.

Clare’s law

I am also pleased that the storyline has now moved on, with Yasmeen’s granddaughter having suspicions and confronting Geoff in front of Yasmeen. Her grand-daughter has taken into upon herself to exercise “Clare’s Law”, a relatively recent development which once again shows the programme’s researchers have done their homework.

Clare’s Law is available to anyone who has suspicions that their new partner (or the new partner of an ex-partner or family member) might have a history which could cause some concern. An application is made to the Police who check their database to see if the subject has a criminal record for violence, domestic abuse or even child abuse. Where this is the case, the Police can verbally warn the person making the enquiry, the person in the new relationship and, in some cases, Social Services. The aim is that individuals are fully aware of any potential risks involved in their new relationship.

It will be interesting to see how the story develops. I hope Yasmeen will seek the advice of a family lawyer who will be able to advise her on:

  • getting an Occupation Order
  • forcing Geoff to vacate the family home
  • obtaining a Non-Molestation order
  • whether she is entitled to legal aid to cover the cost of legal advice

It is pleasing to see Coronation Street covering this subject so sensitively and accurately. Hopefully, real-life victims of abuse will recognise themselves in the characters and take steps to get out of abusive relationships by seeking legal advice from an experienced family lawyer who can offer quality advice and support.

Don’t tolerate domestic abuse

If you are the victim of domestic abuse, we’re here ready to act immediately on your behalf. Please email or contact our family law teams in Halifax, Huddersfield or Brighouse.