EastEnders fans were left ‘horrified’ by a heartbreaking scene which saw Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden) raped in Monday’s hard-hitting episode. 

The soap tackled the storyline, which focuses on male victims of sexual violence, after having built up to it for some time.

The latest episode began as an argument broke out when Callum Highway (Tony Clay) found out his husband Ben told barman Lewis Butler (Aidan O’Callaghan) about his brutal assaults on homophobes, having suffered his own targeted attack.

‘Heartbreaking’: EastEnders fans were left ‘horrified’ by a scene which saw Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden) raped by Lewis Butler (Aidan O’Callaghan) in Monday’s hard-hitting episode

Impactful: It comes 10 years after the soap turned down a male rape storyline from executive producer at the time Bryan Kirkwood, with the show saying it was too difficult

Impactful: It comes 10 years after the soap turned down a male rape storyline from executive producer at the time Bryan Kirkwood, with the show saying it was too difficult

Ben then left for the pub, fearing the downfall of his marriage, and pulled up a dating app on his phone after a few drinks.

He didn’t spot a selfie Callum then sends him with Ben’s daughter Lexi, and instead viewers see him and Lewis flirting.

One thing leads to another and soon enough Ben and Lewis found themselves heading upstairs – before the vigilante finally saw the photo his husband sent.

'Horrible': The soap tackled the storyline, which focuses on male victims of sexual violence, after having built up to it for some time

‘Horrible’: The soap tackled the storyline, which focuses on male victims of sexual violence, after having built up to it for some time

'I'm dumbstruck': The 'heartbreaking' scene was praised by EastEnders fans, who took to social media to voice their grief

‘I’m dumbstruck’: The ‘heartbreaking’ scene was praised by EastEnders fans, who took to social media to voice their grief

He then made his way to leave and refused Lewis’ advances, but the bar manager went on to carry out the horrifying assault regardless.

The ‘heartbreaking’ scene was praised by EastEnders fans, who took to social media to voice their grief.

One user tweeted: ‘I’m dumbstruck. Well done everyone involved in that. Horrible. Stark. Heartbreaking.’ 

Another said: ‘Genuinely so much worse than anything I could have imagined. My heart hurts for Ben, for Callum too – but bloody hell Ben…I haven’t cried at a soap for a very long time and tonight I did.’

Elsewhere a commenter added: ‘The way max delivered that last ‘I said no’ hurt my souls why do I still watch this show when all it does is sadden me.’ 

Praise: Elsewhere a commenter added: 'The way max delivered that last "I said no" hurt my souls why do I still watch this show when all it does is sadden me'

Praise: Elsewhere a commenter added: ‘The way max delivered that last “I said no” hurt my souls why do I still watch this show when all it does is sadden me’

Max Bowden’s performance was lauded by viewers, with one on Twitter saying he ‘better get all the awards’.

Looking ahead to Tuesday’s episode, one fan added: ‘Tonight is the aftermath of Ben’s rape ordeal and he struggles to come to terms with it.

‘Max Bowden is gonna smash this storyline and it’s so important. No means no and sex without consent is rape.’

The BBC soap worked with a number of charities, including SurvivorsUK, Survivors Manchester and the Male Survivors Partnership, to ensure the topic is tackled sensitively.

Important: Looking ahead to Tuesday's episode, one fan added: 'Tonight is the aftermath of Ben's rape ordeal and he struggles to come to terms with it'

Important: Looking ahead to Tuesday’s episode, one fan added: ‘Tonight is the aftermath of Ben’s rape ordeal and he struggles to come to terms with it’

It comes 10 years after the soap turned down a male rape storyline from executive producer at the time Bryan Kirkwood, with the show saying it was too difficult.

The storyline and it’s aftermath are set to play out over several months, with Max, who plays Ben, saying he is ‘honoured’ to portray it. 

He said: ‘Alongside some wonderful charities, and some very inspirational survivors of male sexual assault in the UK, I think we’ve been able to really strive to tell the most truthful account we can, and I hope we can raise awareness and understanding on a topic that is rarely covered.’

Fight: The latest episode began as an argument broke out between Ben and his husband, before the gruesome attack

Fight: The latest episode began as an argument broke out between Ben and his husband, before the gruesome attack

‘I’m honoured to be given this opportunity to tell such an important story’

The harrowing storyline will not only focus on the assault but consent, masculinity, and how sexual assault affects loved ones around the victim.

Giving some context to the story, BBC head of continuing drama Kate Oates said: ‘Ben has endured a traumatic time after witnessing a homophobic attack on Callum that brought back painful memories of losing Paul.’

‘As a result, Ben lost his way in life…which is when he found Lewis.

‘Ben finds Lewis attractive, and thinks of him as a someone who can understand him in a way Callum does not; but that trust is abused when Lewis crosses a line and rapes Ben,’ she explained.

Consent: The harrowing storyline will not only focus on the assault but consent, masculinity, and how sexual assault affects loved ones around the victim

Consent: The harrowing storyline will not only focus on the assault but consent, masculinity, and how sexual assault affects loved ones around the victim

It comes as both Hollyoaks and Coronation Street have explored the storyline in 2014 and 2018.

It seems the soap is finally ready to explore the topic, after Bryan Kirkwood previously revealed he was told to avoid the subject matter ‘in no uncertain terms’ while he was executive producer, before moving to Hollyoaks – where he ran it.

Rape charity SurvivorsUK hope the plot will encourage male victims to come forward, with Service Manager Marta Almeida detailing: ‘Storylines like this one are an amazing opportunity to explore the reality for so many men, families and communities up and down the UK’.

For confidential support, call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch. See www.samaritans.org for details.

'Honoured': The storyline and it's aftermath are set to play out over several months, with Max, who plays Ben, saying he is 'honoured' to portray it

‘Honoured’: The storyline and it’s aftermath are set to play out over several months, with Max, who plays Ben, saying he is ‘honoured’ to portray it



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Originally posted 2022-05-24 16:30:50.