EastEnders’ Max Bowden teases VERY dark times for Ben in rape storylineMay 17, 2022
WITH his marriage to Callum Highway on the rocks, Ben Mitchell is down in the dumps.
But the EastEnders character is set to face more dark times after being the victim of rape, according to the actor who plays him, Max Bowden.
Four years after the issue was portrayed in the cobbles, the BBC One soap is tackling the harrowing topic of male rape in a new storyline involving Ben Mitchell.
Ben has been going through harsh times as of late, notably following Callum's (played by Tony Clay) brutal beating.
Exposed and scolded for his vigilante actions against homophobic individuals, Ben found comfort in his budding friendship with Prince Albert manager Lewis Butler (Aidan O'Callaghan).
Unfortunately, one drunken evening led to a terrible mistake as the pair kissed – prompting Callum to end his romance with Ben.
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But as EastEnders fans know, Lewis will be making a lot more damage as the bartender will rape the long-standing character.
As explained to The Sun and other press by Max Bowden, Ben's world will crumble before his eyes after the assault.
"There’s a massive element of confusion about what happened the night before", the actor said.
He then added that Ben will go through the struggle of any sexual assault survivor which often involves blame-shifting.
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"Ben is blaming himself for the rape and the breakdown of his marriage", Max continued.
"Utterly confused and a bit lost", Ben is in a state of pure shock and slowly but surely "becomes a shell of himself."
"It takes him a while to realise he is a victim. Rape is, for anybody is impossible to get your head around", Max went on.
"It’s really really tough. He becomes a shell of himself."
But as Max recalls, "there have been several other characters who have had similar experiences."
Could this mean Ben finds the support he desperately needs?
How will Walford tough man Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) react to his son being the victim of such a crime?
Sadly, his family's proud reputation and the image of male bravado that has stuck with him over the years won't make things any easier for Ben.
And with a latent stigma around male rape in the gay community, Ben's husband Callum won't be as understanding as hoped for.
According to Max, "it's easier for Callum to think Ben cheated on him."
How will Ben cope?
EastEnders fans may remember Ben's mother Kathy Beale (Gillian Taylforth) was also raped in the late 1980s, pushing her to be his main potential source of support through the ordeal.
But the door is left open for some surprising support to come out of the woodwork as Ben's outgoing and insular mask cracks and falls apart.
"People that know him are seeing that something’s not quite right", Max continued.
"People that know him start to unravel the pieces of the puzzle. He’s not grooming himself anymore and looks quite dishevelled."
Jay Brown's (Jamie Borthwick) brotherhood could be the key to Ben picking himself back up.
What if Ben's rape could also be a trigger for him to reconcile with Whitney Dean (Shona McGarty), another survivor of sexual assault?
Max remains cryptic, seemingly leaving the door open, although rekindling the friendship would be no easy feat.
"It’s interesting", Max responded when asked about Whitney.
"They have a complicated past due to what happened with Callum, especially him storming into their wedding."
Ben crashed Callum and Whitney's nuptials in August, 2019.
Matters were only made worse by Kush Kazemi's death as Whitney was convinced the Mitchells were responsible for her fiancé's sad demise.
She has since found out serial killer Gray Atkins actually murdered Kush in a bid to keep her close to him.
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Could the past finally be put to rest?
EastEnders airs from Monday to Thursday on BBC One.
WHERE TO GET HELP
Whenever it happened to you, it’s never too late to get support.
If you’ve ever experienced sexual violence or sexual abuse, you can get confidential support from specialists who will listen to you, believe you and understand how hard it is to talk about.
As a victim, you’re entitled to support whether you report the crime or not. Your rights are set out in full in the Victims’ Code.
Visit gov.uk/sexualabusesupport to see the support on offer.
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