A member of the Bishops’ Domestic Abuse Working Group has praised Emmerdale for highlighting the issue of marital rape on primetime TV.
Fans of the ITV soap opera were shocked last month when Pierce Harris (played by Jonathan Wrather) attacked his newly-wed wife Rhona Goskirk (Zoe Henry) after an argument on their wedding day.
Later, viewers of the show took to Twitter to share their opinions following the episode, which aired on Monday 24th April, with many admitting it was a “hard watch”.
‘Emmerdale was a hard watch tonight, but good that marital rape and the traumatic aftermath is being highlighted on primetime TV,’ one viewer posted on Twitter.
Nikki Dhillon-Keane, a member of the Bishops’ Domestic Abuse Working Group, has also praised the soap for highlighting the issue.
“It’s very good that the issue of marital rape is being highlighted on a mainstream TV programme,” Nikki Dhillon-Keane told The Universe.
“Marital rape or intimate rape is different from other kinds of rape because, as well as the terrible crime itself, it is a betrayal of trust, of everything that is meant to be held sacred in a marriage.
“Shockingly, rape is a common form of domestic abuse – about a quarter of all rapes are linked to domestic abuse – and yet there is still a great deal of ignorance about it,” she added.
She also runs Signs of Hope Counselling Service and is currently working with Caritas Westminster in developing multi-faith domestic abuse support Safe in Faith.
“This offence is especially dangerous because many women who have been raped by their husbands are not sure whether it was really rape,” she continued.
Ms Dhillon-Keane explained that any non-consensual sex is rape, whether or not the victim is married to or in a relationship with their attacker, and whether or not they fought back.
“Marital rape has been a crime in the UK for the past 25 years. But it often goes unreported, and many victims don’t seek help. Hopefully raising awareness of this issue will encourage victims to reach out for support,” she told The Universe.
The Emmerdale storyline continued on television this week as Rhona Goskirk returned to the village from her honeymoon.
24-hour National Domestic Violence freephone helpline: 0808 2000 247.
Picture: Pierce looks as though he won’t be able to get through the wedding as Rhona approaches. (Photo: Amy Brammall/ITV).