EastEnders has announced it is working with charity SurvivorsUK on a male sexual assault story to air next month.
en Mitchell, played by Max Bowden, will be the focus of a new storyline after his character was raped by Lewis Butler, played by Aidan O’Callaghan.
Bartender Lewis has befriended Ben over the past few weeks, who is going through an identity crisis before becoming a victim of sexual assault.
Bowden, who plays the son of the notorious Phil Mitchell, said he was “honored” to be able to tell “such an important story”.
He said: “As well as some wonderful charities and some very inspiring survivors of male sexual assault in the UK I think we have really been able to try to report as truthfully as possible and I hope we can raise awareness and understanding on an issue which is rarely treated.”
Kate Oates, Head of Continued Drama at BBC Studios, added: “Ben went through a traumatic time after witnessing a homophobic attack on Callum, which brought back painful memories of the loss of Paul.
“As a result, Ben lost his way in life, and that’s how he found Lewis. Ben finds Lewis attractive and believes he is someone who can understand him in a way Callum doesn’t, but that trust is betrayed when Lewis crosses a line and rapes Ben.
“Through this story, we hope to explore issues of consent, sexual identity, masculinity and sexual assault, and to focus on how that fateful night impacts Ben and those who love him in the months to come.”
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The BBC One soap opera said they had worked “closely” with charities including SurvivorsUK, Survivors Manchester and the Male Survivors Partnership (MSP) on the storyline.
Marta Almeida, Service Manager at SurvivorsUK, said: “Almost all of us will at some point know a man who has been sexually abused, but a large number of male survivors still feel there is no space for them to speak up.
“Storylines like this are an amazing opportunity to explore reality for so many men, families and communities across the UK.”
Duncan Craig OBE, Chief Executive of Survivors Manchester said: “Men as victims of sexual assault, rape and abuse are often downplayed, ignored or forgotten and if it is not spoken about then we as a society cannot fully deal with it.
“While there are always criticisms of soap operas, dramas, or any form of entertainment that tells a story like this, I’m 100% confident that these cultural references have a direct impact on creating change in society, but what else more important to me as a survivor, direct impact on the individual survivors themselves.
“I often think that if I had only seen something on TV as I was going through my experiences of sexual violence that showed it happens to men too, maybe I wouldn’t have kept silent for so long and done so much harm to myself.”
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/eastenders-works-with-survivors-charities-on-male-sexual-assault-storyline-41582540.html EastEnders works with survivor charities on male sexual assault stories