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TV’s violent rape scene was brave, says Glade boss
THE manager at a sexual assault referral centre near Worcester has defended the “brave” decision to broadcast a violent rape scene on hit TV show Downton Abbey.
The shocking episode has caused controversy and divided opinion since it was broadcast after the watershed on Sunday evening.
During the scene married lady’s maid Anna Bates is apparently raped by a visiting valet played by former EastEnders star Nigel Harman. The maid, played by fan favourite Joanne Froggatt, rebuffs the advances of the valet Mr Green who then strikes her and drags her off to carry out the attack.
The scene drew close to 100 complaints from viewers and even the Countess of Carnarvon, who owns Highclere Castle where the show is filmed, said she was not keen on the scenes, saying she preferred to look at “nice things” on a Sunday night.
But Emma Durmaz, clinical manager and forensic nurse examiner at the Glade at Bransford, near Worcester, who watches the show, said: “I don’t really see what all the fuss is about.
“ It is a difficult subject for people to deal with but it didn’t actually show the sexual assault. We heard her screaming and saw her being hit which is upsetting.
“Possibly the view we have is that Downton Abbey is a bit genteel and anything a bit off the wall is going to upset viewers if it’s not tea and crumpets.
“But these things can happen anywhere to anyone.
“It’s not about class. Rape is essentially about control over someone.”
Mrs Durmaz, who uses all the latest techniques to get samples from victims, said the crime would have been far more difficult to prosecute in the 1920s when there was no DNA testing.
She said: “People are probably shocked because they don’t want to confront the fact that things like that happen in real life.
“I have seen worse representations of rape in some of the crime programmes you see on television and you don’t often see those being complained about.
“It is possible that people who watch crime programmes expect to see violence or sexual violence whereas people who watch Downton Abbey don’t. I think it’s a brave decision by the writer and producers.
“The viewers need to realise this is real life – it happened then and it happens now and it will happen until the end of time I presume. It is shocking and it’s terrible but by not having it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. It is a realistic scenario.”
She said there was support available for victims who can be men and children as well as women when there was little or none in the 1920s.
Since the Glade opened last November staff have supported 230 people of which 10 per cent were self-referrals.
People can ring a 24-hour helpline and samples can be stored for seven days, giving them time to consider whether they want to back a criminal prosecution.
The freephone number is 0808 178 2058.
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