Worcestershire sexual assault referral centre praises soap storyline

Kidderminster Shuttle: Actor James Sutton's character in Hollyoaks was raped. Actor James Sutton's character in Hollyoaks was raped.

A FORENSIC nurse has praised a soap opera for tackling the issue of male rape in a current storyline – and hopes it will encourage victims in Worcester to come forward.

Emma Durmaz, clinical manager and forensic nurse at the Glade Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) in Bransford, near Worcester, said the hard-hitting plotline of Channel 4’s Hollyoaks was well researched, bringing to light the psychological trauma of rape.

Mrs Durmaz did not believe featuring the attack, which hit screens on Thursday, January 9, was a problem, as the rape itself was not shown and the focus was on the emotional aftermath of the incident on the victim, openly gay teacher John Paul McQueen, played by James Sutton.

In the show, the teacher was attacked by student Finn O’Connor (Keith Rice) in the brutal culmination of a homophobic bullying storyline.

A sexual assault referral centre, like the one at Bransford, is also featured after Hollyoaks bosses worked closely with expert advisors while devising the plot, including Stonewall, St Mary's Sexual Assault Referral, Survivors Manchester and Survivors UK.

And Mrs Durmaz said the extra research paid off with a gritty and realistic depiction. 

“It was handled really, really well,” she said.

“They explained, through the story, the difficulty people can have with reporting their experience to the police.

“It shows the character, John Paul, going into a busy police station. He declines to go any further and he was finding it all really difficult. That mirrors what happens in reality.”

Actor James Sutton said he sympathised with the feelings of victims and their reluctance to report incidents.

“He (character John Paul McQueen) feels ashamed, he feels quite dirty and he feels that people are going to judge him,” he said.

“He is in shock as well and he is still questioning why he didn’t stop it and why he didn’t do anything.”

With around 20 per cent of women who are attacked reporting a rape, only 10 per cent of men did so, Mrs Durmaz said, a statistic she hoped the show’s storyline may address.

“If a story like that increases people’s knowledge of it and if they know there’s a safety mechanism where they can go and be looked after, it might encourage people to come forward,” Mrs Durmaz said.

“At least in the story he has been believed.

“What people want is to be believed – it is the most important thing.

“I think it was realistic. I’m sure it will be contentious and create debate – but that is what we want.”

The Glade can be reached on its 24-hour number, 0808 178 2058.


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