The Helen Titchener Rescue Fund raises more than £20,000 for Refuge in just over 48 hours


A fund to support The Archers’ character Helen Titchener, who is experiencing domestic violence on the popular radio soap opera, has raised more than £20,000 for Refuge in just over 48 hours.

Commenting on the campaign, chief executive Sandra Horley CBE says:

“Refuge is incredibly grateful to everyone who has donated to the ‘Helen Titchener Rescue Fund’. We pay tribute to those who have used this fictional character to help real-life women fleeing domestic violence. Raising this amount for Refuge is an amazing achievement.

Refuge is stretched to breaking point. Anything that raises awareness of our work whilst raising much needed funds is wonderful – and vital. Since 2011, Refuge has experienced a reduction in funding across 80% of its services. Finding a refuge space is like finding gold dust, and many women are facing a stark choice: flee to live rough on the streets or remain with their abuser and risk further violence or even worse.

As well as raising vital funds, Helen’s story has brought the devastating impacts of domestic abuse into the nation’s living rooms. Rob’s controlling behaviour will be all too familiar to the 3,300 abused women Refuge helps every day. Rob is jealous and possessive; he dictates where Helen goes and what she wears; he has isolated her from family and friends; and he undermines her intelligence and parenting skills. As for so many women in Helen’s position, the abuse has worsened since she became pregnant.

Listeners have heard Rob purposefully and gradually erode Helen’s independence and self-esteem, like water dripping on a stone. As with many perpetrators, Rob disguises his jealousy as concern and love – he is merely ‘protecting her’, he says. To an outsider, Rob may appear the perfect, caring husband. Yet he is systematically controlling Helen; whilst confusing her with his ever changing behaviour. One minute he is seemingly caring and kind; the next controlling and abusive. A Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde personified.

Controlling behaviour is insidious and can be incredibly subtle, which is why a storyline like Helen’s is so important. Helen’s experience is a painful reality for millions of women. Domestic violence is the biggest social issue affecting women in this country. Two women are killed in England and Wales by a current or former partner every week; one woman in four will experience domestic violence at some time in her life. The demand on our services is overwhelming. Refuge wishes it could do more for women like Helen – but it’s hard enough to keep our existing services running.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the ‘Helen Titchener Rescue Fund’ – this money will translate into specialist support for real Helen Titcheners up and down the country. It is essential that services exist to protect women and children – they save and change lives.”135 (1in4-3841)

Melanie Clarke, who was physically and emotionally abused by her ex-partner, says:

“Helen Titchener’s story really resonated with me – in many ways it mirrors my experience of domestic violence. My ex-partner was controlling from the very beginning. He was constantly suspicious and didn’t like me to have friends. He was careful to always be very nice to them, but he made it clear to me that he did not like them and that I shouldn’t see or talk to them. If I wanted to go out, he would refuse to look after our three children. I became very isolated.

Like Rob, he would tell me my clothes were too provocative and would often mock and embarrass me in front of people. He’d do things like boast about having received better GCSE results than me, and purposefully use words I didn’t understand to humiliate me. If I expressed something he didn’t agree with, he would shout me down and belittle me.

My ex-partner became very violent, and the control he had over me meant it was incredibly difficult to leave. Like Helen, I would cover up his behaviour and minimise it to outsiders.

I am glad that Helen’s story on The Archers has highlighted the controlling dynamic of domestic violence. I hope women listening, who may be in similar situations, recognise Rob’s tactics and reach out to an organisation like Refuge.”

You can donate to the ‘Helen Titchener Rescue Fund’ here. Follow Refuge on Twitter for the latest updates on this campaign.

If you would like to hear more about Melanie’s story or need our assistance in finding another case study, please contact the Refuge press office on 0207 395 7731 or email

Out of hours and weekend enquiries 07970 894240

About Refuge

Refuge opened the world’s first refuge in Chiswick, West London, in 1971. Since then it has grown to become the country’s largest single provider of specialist support to women and children escaping domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence. On any given day Refuge supports 3,300 women and children experiencing domestic violence, sexual violence, female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriage, stalking, trafficking, prostitution and so-called ‘honour’ based violence.

Refuge runs a national network of specialist services, including: safe emergency accommodation through refuges in secret locations across the country; community-based outreach services; culturally specific services for women from South Asian, African and Caribbean, and Vietnamese backgrounds; independent domestic violence advocacy (IDVAs) for women at the highest risk of serious injury and homicide; the Gaia Centre, a pioneering service which supports victims of all forms of gender-based violence; and the Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership with Women’s Aid.

Refuge’s award-winning media and advertising campaigns raise public awareness of domestic violence. Additionally, Refuge campaigns and lobbies for better protection for women and children experiencing domestic violence.  In recent years Refuge has advised the governments, law-enforcement agencies, international communities and NGOs of Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Malawi, St Lucia, Turkey and Russia on their strategies to reduce violence against women.  For more information please visit or follow Refuge’s work on Facebook and Twitter.