Charity Slams Corrie Over Domestic Abuse

A campaigning charity last night branded a Coronation Street storyline as an insult to victims of domestic violence in Northern Ireland. Women’s Aid has attacked a storyline where evil Tracy Barlow murdered her boyfriend and pretended she was acting in self-defence as “mocking” abuse suffered by real victims.

The popular ITV show has portrayed manipulative Tracy attempting to convince her neighbours she is a victim of domestic abuse – even going so far as to burn her own arm with an iron.

But Annie Campbell of Women’s Aid said the storyline would be of great concern to females across Northern Ireland.

She said: “Coronation Street prides itself on depicting strong women in realistic storylines. However, the current domestic abuse storyline mocks the misery and pain that women in Northern Ireland experience every day.

“Domestic violence shatters the lives of victims and their children and no woman chooses to be abused.

“The suggestion that someone would lie and manipulate to portray themselves as a victim of domestic violence is a complete failure to understand how devastating abuse can be.”

Ms Campbell added: “More crucially, the current storyline undermines every woman who seeks help and support from those within her community.

“If a woman asking for help is met with incredulity, accusations of having skewed the truth or even that the abuse is fictional, then that woman may never ask for help again.

“The result is to condemn victims to further abuse and isolation – a harsh penalty individuals pay in the name of light entertainment.”

Women’s Aid said the current plot contrasted with a previous depiction of domestic abuse in the relationship between Charlie Stubbs and his on-screen girlfriend at the time Shelly Unwin.

Ms Campbell said: “The development of that storyline encouraged a number of women to call the 24 Hour Domestic Violence Helpline seeking help.”

The 24 Hour Domestic Violence Helpline is available on 0800 917 1414 and is open to anyone affected by domestic violence. It managed 20,261 calls in the year spanning April ’05 – March ’06 in Northern Ireland.

However, a spokesman for Granada last night responded: “While we are very aware that one of Coronation Street’s functions is to inform and educate, the primary function is to entertain as a drama, and it’s clear to viewers of the show that this is not an issue-led storyline about domestic abuse but a storyline about a nasty, manipulative and unpredictable individual.

“Tracy has never been portrayed as a role model but as a villain.

“This storyline has a long way to run yet and we will be following through. However, the genuine concerns of the nation to domestic abuse are played out through the reactions of other characters like Claire and Deirdre who offer Tracy their support and outline some of the options available to women who are actually suffering from domestic abuse.”