AN organisation that supports sexual assault victims has praised the responsible way the producers of Broadchurch handled a rape storyline.

The third and final series of the hit ITV show ended on Sunday with taxi driver Clive's 16-year-old son Michael Lucas unveiled as Trish Winterman's rapist.

The teenager was forced into it by his friend Leo Humphries, who admitted to previously raping three other women.

A spokesman for Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Assault Support (SARSAS) said: "As an organisation, we were really pleased to see the issue of sexual violence handled responsibly in a TV drama, helped out by the Broadchurch team's consultation with Rape Crisis England and Wales and Dorset Rape Crisis.

"The final episode of Broadchurch has now aired and Trish's story has drawn to a close, but the story for real-life survivors doesn't end there.

"Healing from the impact of a sexual assault takes time and everyone's experience is different."

SARSAS, which worked with the Broadchurch production team to ensure the right support was in place for people affected by Trish's story, has seen a dramatic rise in referrals over the past two years, although funding has not kept pace.

The organisation launched an appeal to tie in with the return of Broadchurch, which had raised nearly £3,000 of its £10,000 target by Monday of this week.

The spokesman added: "We need your help to continue to provide essential specialist support to anyone who needs it and to reach those who have not yet come forward."

Every £1,000 donation will provide six months of counselling for a survivor of sexual violence "helping them to rebuild their lives" or 80 hours of helpline support.

You can donate online, by texting SARS45 £10 to 70070 to donate £10 - you can change the amount to £1, £2 or £5 or any multiple of that.

Avon and Somerset Police Deputy Chief Constable Gareth Morgan tweeted: "That was harrowing viewing but vital message landed. Rape is not sex. It's about power and control."