EastEnders lesbian abuse storyline based on ‘real experiences’

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Domestic violence charity Broken Rainbow has opened up about helping to create the ongoing lesbian abuse storyline in EastEnders.

The soap has tackled the subject of violent same-sex relationships through an ongoing storyline involving characters Tosh and Tina.

Broken Rainbow – which helps tackle domestic violence within the LGBT community – was integral to creating the plot arc.

The charity’s head Jo Harvey Barringer told the BBC: “As an organisation we were thrilled to be asked to advise on the Tosh and Tina storyline, and saw it as a great opportunity to get the subject of LGBT domestic violence into the public domain.

“We were very conscious that the storyline needed to portray the very real experiences our service users tell us about.

“Although there are a number of similarities to women experiencing abuse in heterosexual relationships – the ways they can all experience psychological, sexual, physical and financial violence and abuse – the one main issue that differs is the lack of support services available to LGBT survivors or perpetrators.”

“Representation of our stories on mainstream television can only help raise awareness not just for service providers, but also from LGBT people affected by domestic violence who may recognise themselves or aspects of their partner in this storyline.

“The notion that behaviour like this isn’t okay and that they aren’t alone can be a powerful enabler to safety in itself.

“It was really important that the story portrayed the complexities of Tosh and Tina’s abusive relationship and how often an individual incident is not the whole story about the relationship.

“We need to know what the build-up was to the incident, what the motives are of each partner and what the impact is on each partner so that we can begin to – hopefully – get people thinking about how power is the key to understanding whether or not a relationship is, or behaviours are, abusive.

“In the episode where Tina slapped Tosh clearly that wasn’t ok but when put into context she was responding to yet another verbally abusive incident involving accusations and the slap was a ‘stop it!’ – an expression of frustration with and/or retaliation to Tosh’s abuse.

“The violent punch Tosh responded with was calculated to put Tina in her place and to punish Tina for challenging Tosh’s dominance in the relationship; a reminder that Tosh was in control and held all the power.”