EastEnders fans have been left feeling upset after watching Ben Mitchell's harrowing rape scenes with bartender Lewis Butler.
Character Ben, who is played by Max Bowden, has been developing a close friendship with the new manager of Prince Albert Lewis, played by Aiden O'Callaghan recently. But things took an abrupt turn for the worst when Lewis didn't take "no" for an answer on Monday 23 May evening's episode of the popular BBC soap opera.
In the episode, Ben's marriage to Callum Highway, played by Tony Clay, was crumbling as the police officer found out he told Lewis about him operating as a vigilante. After a raging argument that ended in harsh words, fans were left wondering if this could be end of their relationship together.
Ben then headed to the Vic, which Callum covered him for with his daughter Lexi, who arrived for a sleepover. In a sweet gesture, Callum then sent Ben a selfie with Lexi.
But Ben was too embroiled in speaking to Lewis, who he spotted on a dating app, and the pair decided to meet and ended up kissing upstairs.
After seeing the photo of Callum and Lexi, however, he decided to have second thoughts about what he was doing with Lewis and told him that he thought they "should stop".
Callum refused to let him go despite Ben's multiple protests and raped him in horrific scenes.
Viewers of the programme flocked to Twitter to share their reactions to the ordeal as many were left crying.
"Na yesterdays #EastEnders has me teary eyed. Not Ben man give the guy a f***ing break omg," one person wrote with three crying emojis.
Another shared: "It was truly heart breaking seeing this happen to ben NO ONE deserves to be raped NO one should be a victim of this crime and I'm glad #eastenders are doing the awareness of this".
A third posted: "Seeing Ben sobbing and fighting is so f***ing sad. My heart goes out to all surviors. I hope you're all okay. Max Bowden did amazing tonight. #eastenders".
While a fourth added: "Bloody hell, Lewis you are sick how dare you do that to Ben".
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It comes as actor Max revealed how he distanced himself from Aidan in the run up to the harrowing scenes.
"I was probably a bit of an a**e really!" said Max when discussing approaching the tricky scenes in Ben's latest storyline.
"I deliberately kept my distance from him for about six weeks, because I didn’t want to find myself in a position where we became close. After we’d finished the scene, I said, 'I just want you to know I’m not an a**e,' and explained why I was doing this. After that we had a good chat. I did feel quite bad for doing it, but I think it helped."
Soap stars in the news
Max, who has reportedly been "inseparable" from Shona McGarty recently, explained that everyone approached the scenes with sensitivity to try and convey the story honestly for the viewers.
"We had to kind of choreograph it, to make sure there’s no confusion for the audience about what’s happening and the decisions the characters make. There was an intimacy coordinator on set, so that helped free up the experience."
If you have been affected by this story, you can find support by visiting sexualabusesupport.campaign.gov.uk/
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