Viewers react to 'very tough to watch' domestic abuse scenes in Angela Black

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Photo credit: ITV
Photo credit: ITV

Last night, viewers tuned in to watch ITV's new series, Angela Black, starring Joanne Froggatt, Michiel Huisman and Samuel Adewunmi. The first episode has already received plenty of praise from TV critics, but many viewers were shocked by the brutal domestic violence attack shown just a few minutes in.

In the opening scene, Angela (Froggatt) and her husband Olivier (Huisman) appear to have the perfect life as they enjoy a dinner party with friends. But, things quickly turn dark when Olivier questions something Angela said during the meal. He soon begins to attack her, and although most of the scene is off-camera, the sound of Olivier striking his wife and Angela's cries can still be heard.

After the episode had aired, plenty of viewers took to social media to comment on the emotional scene. "Wow! So we’re going straight to it then," tweeted one person, with another viewer adding "This #AngelaBlack on ITV is going to be VERY tough to watch. Compelling viewing already." A third viewer tweeted: "This will be a hard watch and yes it's a drama but please remember this is happening behind closed doors every day!"

Some viewers also pointed out how difficult leaving an abusive relationship can be for those trapped in one. "Had to switch off #AngelaBlack because it trigged some hard memories for me. Please remember it’s not as easy as 'leave after the first time they raise their hands to you'" said one viewer, as another tweeted: "This is everyday life for some people - please don’t ever say 'why don’t you just leave, you deserve better' or 'why did you stay so long' - it’s a very long and difficult road to travel."

Domestic abuse charity Women's Aid also tweeted about the ITV drama, highlighting that they'd advised on the show. Speaking to Harper's Bazaar about the charity's role in the show's production, Head of Media Relations and Communications, Theresa Parker said: "I shared real-life examples, and gave written feedback on different versions of the scripts as the story developed and evolved."

She continued, "The team behind the programme were so committed to making sure the story rang true, and the examples I gave echo through in the script. When Joanne was cast as Angela, I introduced her to one of our incredible support workers on our Live Chat service, to share examples of what women had experienced in real life."

Photo credit: ITV
Photo credit: ITV

Parker also emphasised how series like Angela Black can help raise awareness of domestic abuse, and spread the message that there is support out there for those suffering. "There have been recent high-profile reports of male violence against women, and I know from my previous work on TV scripts, the huge difference that storytelling around domestic abuse and coercive control makes," she said, "TV dramas like Angela Black will increase understanding, start conversations and let women know – when a charity like Women's Aid is involved throughout – that there is help and support out there."

If you, or someone you know needs help, you can contact the Freephone 24h National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge, on 0800 2000 247. Alternatively, you can visit Women's Aid's website for more information and resources. Live Fear Free provides support for women in Wales (0808 8010 800). Scotland’s Domestic Abuse & Forced Marriage Helpline is available 24/7, on 0800 027 1234. For anyone in Northern Ireland, call Women's Aid Federation Northern Ireland 24 hours a day on 0808 802 1414.

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