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'EastEnders' will broadcast a hard-hitting male rape storyline next month.
The BBC soap will cover the subject for the first time when Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden) is subjected to a shocking assault from new barman Lewis Butler (Aidan O'Callaghan), with producers turning to a number of charities, including SurvivorsUK, Survivors Manchester and the Male Survivors Partnership, to ensure they tackle the topic sensitively.
Max is "honoured" to be involved with the storyline.
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.
“I’m honoured to be given this opportunity to tell such an important story.”
The storyline and its aftermath are set to play out over several months.
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.
"Through this story, we hope to explore issues of consent, sexual identity, masculinity, and sexual assault, focusing on how this fateful night impacts Ben and those who love him over the coming months.”
Rape charity SurvivorsUK hope the plot will encourage male victims to come forward instead of suffering in silence.
Services Manager Marta Almeida said: “Almost all of us will know a man who has been sexually assaulted at some point, but a huge number of male survivors still don't feel there's a space for them to come forward.
"Storylines like this one are an amazing opportunity to explore the reality for so many men, families and communities up and down the UK.”