The Archers – The Helen Archer And Rob Titchener Saga, Part 4by Dr Emma Gray - 11th May, 2016
Why is Helen Archer Not Standing up for Herself?
Following her arrest for the attack on Rob Titchner Helen Archer is refusing to see her family and give information to her solicitor that would help them to defend her. We have talked in previous blogs about how Helen’s actions make some sense in the context of the prolonged physical, emotional and sexual abuse that she suffered at the hands of her partner, so why does she not stand up for herself and provide everyone with the details that they need to understand what really happened and help her?
There are probably two reasons for Helen’s behaviour. The first is that in the face of a threat human beings are programmed to respond in 1 of 3 ways, 1) fight the danger, 2) flee from it or 3) in the case of Helen, freeze. We have evolved to freeze in face of a threat because if we do there is a chance that the threat may pass by without noticing us. However, this fight-flight-freeze response was designed for a different time, when we lived much closer to predators and when freezing stood a chance of protecting us. Evolution is a slow process and so we often find ourselves automatically falling back on these coping strategies despite the fact that are usually unhelpful in the faces of modern day threats, like being arrested for attacking a partner after months of abuse. It is unlikely that Helen’s choice to withdraw from those that could help her is a conscious one but the result of an innate response to feeling threatened.
The other reason for Helen’s current behaviour is that she believes she should be punished for what she has done. We have discussed in previous blogs that Helen was probably in a relationship with Rob Titchner because her low self-esteem led her to believe that she deserved to be abused by him. Victims of abuse frequently believe that they have ‘asked for it’. It is quite possible that this way of thinking is once again influencing her behaviour and leading her to distance herself from people that could help her because she doesn’t believe she deserves help.