A Domestic Abuse Charity Has Criticised The Only Way Is Essex For ‘Normalising’ Abusive Behaviour

"We have to see the bigger picture and how influential this show is."

A UK domestic violence organisation has said reality show The Only Way Is Essex is ‘normalising’ abusive behaviour in relationships.

Sian Hawkins of Women’s Aid said that although she has been a fan of TOWIE for years, she feels it is the organisation’s duty to point out that the behaviour exhibited in the show is “not normal, acceptable or glamorous”.

She cited the first two episodes of the new season, in which James Locke screams at his girlfriend Yazmin Oukhellou as she stands “quietly in tears”, and Myles Barnett calls his girlfriend Courtney Green a ‘f**king slag’ for speaking to another man on a night out.

“These are all examples of abusive behaviours which, as far as we can tell, have been left unchallenged and unchecked by TOWIE producers and ITVBe,” Sian writes.

Obviously, no one is heralding TOWIE as the place to go for relationship advice but we know a lot of (particularly younger) people look up to the characters on the show and aspire to be like them – wealthy, successful and famous. So it’s important that this kind of behaviour isn’t just passed off, or laughed off – we have to see the bigger picture and how influential this show is.

“[TOWIE] does nothing to show viewers about what is and isn’t acceptable in relationships, what crosses the line from an unhealthy relationship into abuse, and how patterns of verbally abusive and controlling behaviours can escalate over time,” she continues.

Many longtime fans of TOWIE are in agreement – the past few episodes of the show have been met with a slew of tweets condemning Lockie and Myles, as well as ITV for airing the scenes.

A spokesperson for the show told Digital Spy that TOWIE “reflects the real lives of the cast” and that there have been scenes in which characters apologise for their actions:

The producers strive to portray the whole story without censorship or comment whilst being aware that behaviour should not go unchallenged.This is an on-going series and we follow developments with our cast and their relationships, but in the episodes that have aired, there have been scenes that showed fellow cast members’ criticism and also reflection and apologies from those involved.

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