Sarah is an ordinary, middle-class, professional woman – and the victim of an abusive relationship. w@rn is the story of Sarah's experience, and follows her over a period of five years as she attempts to cope with her increasingly dangerous situation. Using a mixture of realistic and abstract episodes to convey the effects of the mental and physical abuse, w@rn also reveals the impact it has on Sarah’s children and explores how it feels for them all to be trapped in what should be a place of safety: their own home.
w@rn takes its audience behind closed doors to witness the effects of an abusive relationship. It explores how the abuse develops, how complex it becomes and how hard it can be to escape. The play provides a human and emotional context for understanding the issues and a common starting point for discussion and debate. Its comprehensive depiction of differing forms of abuse – physical, emotional, psychological and financial – and its careful structuring of events clearly demonstrate the devastating effect the abuse can have on families: eroding the victim's self-esteem, damaging the children and eventually endangering all their lives, in spite of their leaving. By watching the play and becoming involved in the lives of the characters, we have a sense that we are dealing with real people whose lives are at risk, which in turn helps to create a deeper understanding of the issues than can be gained from statistical evidence alone.
As well as being a powerful and compelling piece of theatre, w@rn provides a valuable insight for professionals working with victims and their families. Indeed, w@rn has featured in training programmes for police, members of the legal profession, politicians and social services. The play enables its audience to witness an abusive relationship from the point of view of the victim, and has proved very effective in helping professionals to understand more about the real-life situations which they have to tackle. w@rn has prompted inter-agency discussion about policy and procedures, and is highly effective in raising awareness about domestic abuse.