EastEnders star reveals aftermath of Ben's devastating sex assault trauma

Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden) is the victim of a devastating ordeal in EastEnders next week, when Lewis Butler (Aidan O’Callaghan) rapes him.

The character, as viewers know, has been confiding in Lewis about operating as a vigilante, something which he kept Callum Highway (Tony Clay) in the dark about.

Callum, however, finds out that Lewis knew all about his husband’s violent crimes, and he confronts him on the matter next week, resulting in a heated fight.

Tensions are at an all-time high between the couple, with some difficult words shared between the two, leaving both men wondering if this truly is the end of their marriage.

Ben, therefore, heads to The Vic to drown his sorrows, and after spotting Lewis on a dating app, he starts to send him messages.

‘In the mood that Ben is in, he takes it upon himself to block out Callum completely and revert back to the old Ben Mitchell,’ actor Max Bowden told Metro.co.uk.

‘Somebody who’s slightly more frivolous, slightly more free thinking and possessed by this idea to self-sabotage.’

Ben proceeds to meet with Lewis, and flirts with him. After the Prince Albert shuts for the night, one thing leads to another, and they find themselves upstairs.

‘[Ben] is finding this cheap thrill with Lewis that he hasn’t had in Callum for a while,’ Max told us. ‘Him and Lewis are quite similar, they both came out quite early. They find a common ground and an essence of similarity.

‘That all comes to a head when Ben has a slight self-analysis moment and realises what he’s doing. But it’s to do with that common ground – which is ironic because he found that within Callum, early doors.

‘But he realises at the moment that he needs to get out of this, that he has got everything he wanted to, he has got a life, a perfect family, and actually, that’s what matters.’

As Max touched upon, Ben reconsiders having sex with Lewis, after he receives a selfie from Callum and Lexi. Lewis, however, refuses to let him go, and in harrowing scenes, he rapes him.

‘As with any kind of essence of trauma, there’s a massive element of confusion around what happened the night before,’ said Max, discussing the aftermath of the ordeal.

‘Confusion about: ‘Is it my fault?’, Confusion about what’s happening to his marriage, and to his life. And also, there’s an element of loneliness. It takes him a while to realise that he is a victim.

‘He’s Ben Mitchell, a man who comes from a great stature of family – and a proud family – and he finds himself a victim of rape.

‘That, for anybody, is an impossible situation to get your head around. But for somebody who’s as proud and outgoing and as male bravado-driven as Ben Mitchell, it’s really, really tough.

‘He becomes a complete shell of himself and is utterly confused and a bit lost. It’s like shellshock. Has this happened? Why has this happened? It’s fight or flight for what comes next.’

Ben, as Max said, struggles to process what happened. He subsequently confront Lewis, who claims that he was in the instigator.

Callum, meanwhile, encounters Sam (Kim Medcalf), who tries to wind him up, telling him she saw Ben leaving The Prince Albert. Determined to get answers, Callum confronts Ben, asking if he slept with Lewis.

Ben, still processing what happened, doesn’t deny it, and thus Callum walks out.

‘I think it’s the confusion still. The idea of not wanting to be a victim,’ added Max, discussing the scenes in question. ‘The thing Ben’s always tried to be is a man and what he believes that to be from Phil.

‘He thinks it’s easier for Callum to think that he’s cheated on him, than to think that Ben is a victim of rape. He doesn’t quite understand the consequences that come with it.

He’s so shell-shocked and damaged, that this idea of self-sabotage and not deserving safety and security and happiness just comes over him. That is what is important in that moment, to protect Callum.’

EastEnders is working closely with several charities on the storyline, including SurvivorsUK, Survivors Manchester and the Male Survivors Partnership, to ensure it is covered sensitively.

‘The important thing we’ve tried to deal with within this whole subject matter is the idea of consent,’ said Max. ‘The very straightforward fact that no means no -no matter what happens in the build-up. When that word is uttered, it means no.

EastEnders airs these scenes on Monday May 23 at 7:30pm on BBC One.

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