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Behind Closed Doors on Belle’s Marriage

Emmerdale is set to depict Belle and Tom King’s controlling and abusive marital relationship. 

The newly married couple, played by Eden Taylor Draper and James Chase, have just returned from their honeymoon, but the signs are already apparent that their relationship is not a bed of roses.  

The night of her wedding we saw Belle question whether she had made the right choice and she is now starting to lose her way in what a normal relationship actually looks like. Her husband Tom is exhibiting clear signs of coercive control and there are indications this could develop into physical abuse as well as mental abuse. 

Sadly and typically Belle is likely to keep this aspect of their relationship a secret from her nearest and dearest.  

Producer Laura Shaw explains: “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.”

The programme has been working with outside partners to research this topic and our research has shown us that since the Covid pandemic the instances of Tech Abuse have risen, i.e. a partner using monitoring devices such as trackers, hidden cameras to control and track their partner. So before long the character of Tom will start using different methods of technology to assert his control and surveillance over Belle.

Eden Taylor Draper who plays Belle explains: “When we first heard from the producers the way the Tom and Belle relationship story was going to go, we were fully aware of the responsibility that would bring. But 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.”

Throughout the research process, the programme has worked with a domestic abuse charity, New Beginnings Peer Support, and their CEO Lindsay Olive highlights why this is an important story for Emmerdale to be telling:  

“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.”

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 1 in 4 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.  

If you recognise any of the behaviours displayed by Tom, you may be experiencing domestic abuse. If this is the case, you are not alone.

You can access free and confidential support from Refuge’s 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline on  0808 2000 247 and digital support via live chat Monday-Friday 3-10pm via www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk.

You can also visit the the tech safety website https://refugetechsafety.org/   to learn more about technology-facilitated abuse.” 

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itv |

Weekday evenings