EastEnders fans raise £1000 for charity in one night after Ben sexual assault story | Soaps

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Ben was raped by Lewis in harrowing scenes on Monday (Picture: BBC / Jack Barnes / Kieron McCarron)

EastEnders fans have raised over £1000 for charity in one night following Ben Mitchell’s harrowing rape storyline.

Ben, played by Max Bowden, was sexually assaulted by Lewis Butler (Aidan O’Callaghan) in devastating scenes on Monday (May 23).

The mechanic had had a major row with husband Callum Highway (Tony Clay) on the day in question, and subsequently headed to the Queen Vic, where he messaged barman Lewis on a dating app.

Afterwards, he headed to The Prince Albert, where he and Lewis flirted with one another, before they moved upstairs.

Ben changed his mind about having sex with Lewis, after he received a selfie from Callum and Lexi. Lewis, however, refused to take no for answer, and raped him in harrowing scenes.

In the aftermath of the episode, EastEnders fans came together to raise money for Survivors Manchester, a charity that provides support and advice to men and non-binary people affected by sexual abuse.

Fans Jenn and Erin launched the JustGiving page, sharing the link to it on Twitter as soon as the credits rolled on last night’s episode.

Ben in EastEnders

Ben struggles to come to terms with what happened (Picture: BBC / Jack Barnes / Kieron McCarron)

‘Myself and Erin have been in fandom together for over ten years, and have seen many times how that enthusiasm and passion can be channelled into something that makes a difference,’ Jenn told Metro.co.uk.

‘After the huge success of the Ballum Wedding fundraiser for Just Like Us, we felt this story, and the feelings people would be having about Ben going through something like this, would compel them to take action – so we set up the page in order for them to do that.

‘The statistic from SurvivorsUK that pointed out the average time it takes for a survivor to speak out (of the 4% that do speak out) is 26 years resonated with us because that’s the age Ben is now, a character whose life we have seen play out over those years on a show we love’

Erin added: ‘As an LGBTQ+ activist, I know way too many queer survivors whose stories and experiences remain untold and unspoken.

EastEnders has been working closely with charities, including Survivors UK and Survivors Manchester, on the storyline (Picture: BBC / Jack Barnes / Kieron McCarron)

‘Research from Survivors UK suggests that 45% of gay and bisexual men have been victims of sexual assault. This story is so important, because it will enable LGBTQ+ survivors to feel seen and heard for the first time, and hopefully empower them to reach out for support – but they need somewhere to go when they do that.

‘That’s why we decided to raise money for Survivors Manchester, an amazing survivor-led organisation, to enable them to continue reaching as many people as possible.’

The description of the fundraiser reads: ‘Ben’s story is not only important for raising the issues of consent and sexual violence within the LGBTQ+ community, but because it has the power and reach to change the lives of LGBTQ+ survivors and help them find the support they need. And we, as fans, want to help by raising money for Survivors Manchester. 

Writing on Twitter, Jenn said: ”We want to harness the power of fandom in order to raise money for @SurvivorsMcr and help them support even more survivors like Ben. Please share and donate if you can.’

Less than a day after the episode aired, over £1,000 has already been raised.

EastEnders is working closely with several charities on Ben’s 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.

You can donate to the fundraiser here.

Need support? Contact Survivors UK

You can visit the Survivors UK website here for more information and support on men and non-binary people who have been affected by rape or sexual abuse.

You can chat to a support worker by texting them on: 020 3322 1860

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EastEnders fans raise £1000 for charity in one night after Ben sexual assault story

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