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Courtroom plot Fair City's Rodrigo Ternevoy says abuse storyline won't 'discourage victims from coming forward'

'The verdict was there to raise awareness and start a discussion'


Cristiano (Rodrigo Ternevoy) is attacked by Will (John Cronin)

Cristiano (Rodrigo Ternevoy) is attacked by Will (John Cronin)

Cristiano (Rodrigo Ternevoy) is attacked by Will (John Cronin)

Fair City actor Rodrigo Ternevoy is pleading with victims of domestic violence to still report crimes perpetrated against them despite his character, Cristiano San Martin, controversially not being believed in a dramatic courtroom storyline in the hit soap this week.

Cristiano's former partner Will Casey (John Cronin) managed to convince a jury that he acted in self-defence when he beat Cristiano with a candlestick, which resulted in him being hospitalised.

Viewers were aware that Will had been lying through his teeth and that Cristiano was a regular victim of domestic violence at the hands of his former partner.

"I hope and I don't think this verdict will discourage victims coming forward," stresses Rodrigo. "I think now more than ever our audience knows what the victims of domestic violence go through daily.

"They followed Cristiano and Will's relationship from the beginning, they saw their journey throughout the years.

"All this might help society not only understand it better, but also identify the signs and be open to help a friend or a relative in need.

"The verdict was there to raise awareness and start a discussion. Everyone who watched the trial is now talking about it and that's a very good thing."


Cristiano was left devastated when Will triumphs in court

Cristiano was left devastated when Will triumphs in court

Cristiano was left devastated when Will triumphs in court


He admits the verdict may have been a shock.

"[It]was devastating to Cristiano and to everyone who likes him, but unfortunately it does represent what is all too often the reality out there," he points out.

"Domestic abuse cases are hard to prove, and that discussion is needed. I think all the soap operas are famous for raising awareness of many issues within our society and Fair City is no different.

"It got people discussing the issue and hopefully leads to a positive change on domestic abuse cases going forward."

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Brazilian-born Rodrigo, who plays a Chilean coffee shop owner in the soap, says that he has been contacted by several victims of domestic violence because of the storyline.

"Unfortunately, I do know a few people affected and I didn't know about their stories until I started playing this particular storyline," he explains.

"After a while these people started telling me their stories and it is heartbreaking. I am glad they are all out of their toxic relationships.

"And of course, I was contacted privately on social media by many people who watch Fair City telling me about their own experience with domestic violence. I carefully answered each one to make sure they were heard and that they are not alone."

He tells the Sunday World that the scenes, including the actual assault ones, were difficult to film.

"We had a stunt coordinator on set the whole time to ensure John Cronin and I were safe. Everything was meticulously choreographed. Those were emotional, too, of course, and so were the scenes shot during the trial."

Rodrigo has been living in Ireland since 2008 and has been together with his partner, law lecturer David Campbell for 13 years and married to him for five years.

Men's Aid, a national group which primarily helps male victims of domestic violence, reveals there has been an explosion of calls to them since the start of the pandemic and a series of lockdowns.

"I suppose in terms of this violence it doesn't surprise us because of the surge we have been responding to for the last 18 months in particular," their chief executive Kathrina Bentley tells us. "We had about 5,500 contacts last year and in the first quarter of this year we had 1,641."

She adds: "{About] 95% of that would be a dad or a male where the perpetrator or abuser would be female, but 5% would be what we call male on male. So male gay violence and we would work closely with Belong To and the LGBT community there in terms of helping them."

Kathrina admits that the criminal justice system can be daunting for many victims and believes many in the legal profession are not aware of the dynamics of coercive control".

"Victims should not be deterred by the storyline...We are really trying to encourage people to come forward and not to remain silent if they are victims of domestic or sexual violence, within their relationship."

  • To contact Men's Aid, call 01-5543811.
  • The Women's Aid helpline is 18003419.

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