The Archers – The Helen Archer And Rob Titchener Saga, Part 4

The Archers – The Helen Archer And Rob Titchener Saga, Part 4

by 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.

Dr Emma Gray

Dr Emma Gray

I am often the first person with whom my patients share significant and intimate thoughts and memories; I never take that privileged position for granted nor the opportunity to help someone to feel better about themselves and discover a more fulfilling life. One of my colleagues once described me as a natural psychologist; I guess she was alluding to the fact that I feel at ease being a therapist, I can empathise with people’s distress and discomfort but don’t feel overwhelmed by it, I can understand their problem and know how to help, it has always just felt like what I should be doing.

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  • Joanne Brown 08/06/2016 Reply

    Sure, except that she had no problem talking herself into a place in the MBU because that was a much more desirable option for Helen. Soap jeopardy, I’m afraid.

  • Irene Climie 13/06/2016 Reply

    It is very sad that someone becomes stuck in the victim role because their low self-esteem makes them believe that they are not deserving of better. It must be so frustrating for Anna when she knows Helen has a strong defence but she is not going to impress a jury in her current mental state. What state Henry is going to be in when he is removed from Ursula and Rob is anyone’s guess. And where is Jess? Surely her testimony against Rob is vital – she isn’t being mentioned anymore.

  • Charlotte 13/06/2016 Reply

    I think the main reason is that **possible spoiler alert** she did not stab Rob, it was Henry

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