Coronation Street Tackles Abusive Relationship StorylineMay 11, 2020
Coronation Street writers have over that last 18 months played out the storyline of Yasmeen Nazir and her abusive husband Geoff Metcalfe, a new couple to hit the famous cobbled streets. The show has been praised for highlighting the realities of domestic abuse and coercive control in relationships.
We first see Yasmeen come onto our screens as a strong, independent, opinionated and outspoken business woman married to Geoff, a Hospital radio worker and child entertainer who is kind with a bubbly personality.
The storyline slowly portrays how Geoff’s behaviour evolves from controlling his wife’s business and money, to her relationships with friends and family, alienating her slowly from everyone she cares for. The scenes are painful to watch as he embarrasses her in front of friends and turns down social invites for “her own good” painting her as an alcoholic, during which time she is required to clean their home for hours at a time until it meets his standards. One scene airs that shows him lock her in a box for hours as a punishment. Geoff chips away at Yasmeen’s confidence by choosing her clothing and even orchestrates the theft of her jewellery to make her feel unsafe without him.
Geoff emotionally blackmails Yasmeen pretending to be ill so she misses a family wedding and says that he has been treated badly in the past which made him feel suicidal, to prevent her from leaving him.
Scenes are aired with her worried granddaughter confronting Geoff and later going to the police to air concerns, without any evidence in support of her concerns. She is then made to move out of the house.
After 10 months from when the storyline commenced, it reaches breaking point on our TV screens. In Yasmeen’s desperation to leave, she begins to pack her bags in an attempt to escape at a later point, but unknown to her Geoff has set up cameras around the house.
This week saw the violence come to a head when Yasmeen tests positive for a sexual transmitted disease after Geoff has slept with escorts. Following a confrontation in which she is verbally abused, Yasmeen stabs Geoff in self-defence with a wine bottle, later calling the police in the belief she has killed him.
The writers have shown how Yasmeen’s character goes from a strong women to a shell of herself constantly avoiding people and apologising. Of course abusive relationships can be against either sex in any type of relationship. The hope of Coronation Street writers airing this storyline was that it would assist people escape toxic relationships or at least raise awareness for people to reach out for help or spot the warnings signs of loved ones in danger.
The coming months will now portray the legal process and potential prosecution for her assault against her husband on our TV screens, which is due to come to a climax at Christmas.
The storyline reflects real-life cases such as that of Sally Challen who killed her husband after years of abuse. She was jailed for murder in 2011 but had her conviction quashed in 2019 and later admitted manslaughter by diminished responsibility.
Ofcom has received hundreds of complaints regarding this storyline, splitting opinions with some viewers refusing to watch whilst the storyline continues to play out. It is somewhat shocking when these scenes of domestic violence occur on a daily basis in people’s homes behind closed doors that people are outraged to see this on their screens.
What is coercive control?
Coercive control is a pattern of behaviour which is designed to make the victim isolated and reliant on the perpetrator. According to Women’s Aid some common examples include:
- Isolating you from friends and family
- Depriving you of basic needs, such as food
- Taking control over aspects of your everyday life, such as where you can go, who you can see, what you can wear and when you can sleep
- Humiliating, degrading or dehumanising you
- Making threats or intimidating you
Coercive control first became a crime in England and Wales in 2015.
Violence in the home has reportedly increased significantly during the coronavirus period. In the first five days of the coronavirus lockdown, charity Refuge reported that calls to the National Domestic Abuse helpline increased by 25 per cent, as those trapped with abusive partners found themselves with nowhere to turn.
The Government have produced guidance to confirm if you are in an abuse relationship you may leave the home you are isolating in.
If you want to talk to someone in confidence there are a number of organisations to reach out to:
- Women’s Aid
- Mankind – 0808 801 0327
- Galop runs the National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse specialist helpline 0800 999 5428
- National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247.
- SignHealth provides domestic abuse service support for deaf people in British Sign Language (BSL). WhatsApp or Facetime: 07970 35036 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Childline 0800 1111
If you are concerned that you are hurting a loved one:
https://respectphoneline.org.uk/ 0808 8024040
Olivia Coffey is a senior solicitor in the Abuse team at Bolt Burdon Kemp. If you feel you may have a claim or are enquiring on behalf of a loved one, contact Olivia free of charge and in confidence on 020 7288 4810 or at email@example.com. Alternatively, complete this form and one of the solicitors in the Abuse team will contact you. You can find out more about the Abuse team.