Its a big week for Emmerdale’s Charity Dingle as she takes the stand in her case against her abuser DI Mark Bails. Contributor @IShipVanity gives her opinion on why a guilty verdict matters!
Heartbreak never seems to far away from Charity Dingle (Emma Atkins). As she makes seemingly her last and most important stand against her abuser DI Mark Bails (Rocky Marshall), Charity is entering into a high stakes game that could bring the Woolpack landlady closure whilst opening up already existing wounds.
Since Ryan Stocks (James Moore) re-entered her life, after learning the baby boy she left for dead was alive, Charity has returned to the belief that she can’t get justice and her version of events will not be believed. Hampered by Bails trying to undermine her case, even trying to get Ryan on his side, the last roll of the dice could not be more fraught.
Despite the reassurance of partner Vanessa Woodfield (Michelle Hardwick) that she must see the court case through and the jury will believe her, it’s been a tumultuous time for Charity Dingle as the trial looms large over the horizon.
Emmerdale creatives must send a positive message about historical sexual abuse, that justice can be sought and for Charity, a hugely significant period in her life can be given new meaning. With the rest of the Dingle family finally supporting her through the ordeal, not maligning her for her past transgressions, she finally has the support she deserves.
Historical sexual abuse survivors have often said they feel as if they cannot find recourse through the criminal justice system. That the system put in place is wholly inadequate to robustly bring abusers to account. This has been in part been played out through the whole storyline as Charity has been constantly at odds with officers at Hotten police station, fearful of Bails’ influence with colleagues covering for his misdemeanours. It’s vital that there is a guilty verdict for two reasons, both for the further development of Charity as a character and to send a positive social message.
As Police constabularies up and down the country are facing increased reports of historical sexual abuse crimes due to high profile cases, leading to Assistant Chief Constable Jon Drake of South Wales Police to say: “Regardless of when they occurred, the rise in non-recent reports of abuse is often attributed to coverage of high-profile cases involving celebrities and the like, and is something that we welcome as it demonstrates an increase in public confidence that such reports will be taken seriously and fully investigated.”
It’s vitally important that Emmerdale reflects this change in the wind. Where there is a rise in convictions overall for historical sexual abuse crimes as survivors find their voice in a melee of public support.
Should Emmerdale chose to go down the road towards a non guilty verdict as a misinformed plot device, it would be a massive disservice towards ever increasing national trends. Most importantly it sends the message to survivors of historical sexual abuse that they cannot find justice.
Serial dramas have a duty of care to reflect society in all its highs and lows to demonstrate the changing of the tide. For those reasons, a guilty verdict is one of the most important moments in the soap’s recent history. Such is the duty of care to get this right, Emmerdale will feel the wrath of not only the viewership but far beyond its confines.
Creatively moving forward with Charity Dingle as a character is pivotal, as actress Emma Atkins has said in recent interviews she felt Charity has been given a new lease of life through this storyline, and it’s ultimate pay-off would be a guilty verdict.
To see a character much maligned in the past struggling to cope with the burden not only of her abuse but through the deeply damaging issue of thinking she left her son Ryan for dead. She constantly thinks she isn’t worthy of love nor praise, all due to her fractured and horrific upbringing and abuse. To see her get the justice she has craved nor dared to believe she would get would significantly move the character forward onto a new chapter. Whilst Emmerdale viewers love the scheming version of Charity Dingle, it has its shelf life and needs to evolve.
Now in a better place with her family and finally with a supportive partner in Vanessa (and we do love Vanity), a guilty verdict would allow the narrative to move forward in defining the character not by her past but as she changes course towards the future, not always looking back.
A not guilty verdict would in effect leave Charity in greater spiral unable to move forward. Whilst spoilers suggest she would be in despair following the verdict, hitting the self-destruct button once more, Charity working on the basis of finally someone believing her story and drawing her family together through would be overwhelmingly powerful.
Viewers will not have long to wait until the verdict is known as trial week kicks off on Monday. It does however feel as if this is a crossroads for Charity as a character. Anything less than a guilty verdict would not be enough and stifle the narrative moving forward, angering the Emmerdale fan-base with it. Whilst it’s not the creatives’ job to pander to the fan-base, it is it’s remit to reflect society. There is a growing trend that historical sexual abuse survivors are getting justice and are finding their voice, a guilty verdict would further cement it.