Following a number of other soaps and TV documentaries, Casualty becomes the latest to tackle the issue of rape, in a storyline that involves Chelsea Halfpenny’s character ‘Alicia’ spending the night with the junior doctor, ‘Eddie’, and waking up feeling distressed and traumatised.
Having reviewed various interviews and articles written on the storyline, I consider this plot to be significant for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it was interesting to discover that the writers of the show were constantly referring back to the Rape Crisis team to ensure that the storyline accurately portrayed real-life examples of this type of scenario. I feel that this is important because this type of storyline deals with such a sensitive and traumatic issue for all of those involved. Accurately portraying the actions, emotions and thought processes of both the victims and (potential) abusers will hopefully allow people to relate to this on a personal level and come forward and talk about their experiences.
Secondly, when asked about the storyline, Chelsea stated that the storyline will divide opinion amongst the audience, with the reactions of both characters following the night before leading people to question what actually happened. Was she sexually assaulted or, as his reaction implies, did they both simply have too much to drink and ended up fooling around after she consensually went home with him?
As the potential victim, she acknowledges that following her conversations with Rape Crisis and additional research that she made in preparation for the role, one of the main emotions that she wanted to portray was self-doubt, with Eddie’s normalised behaviour (i.e. bringing her a coffee at work the morning after) making her question whether the alleged assault was all in her imagination. This is particularly significant because this often leads to potential victims not disclosing details of their experiences to anyone for decades, if at all. With the likely thought process being that if you do not believe it happened yourself, how is someone else to be expected to believe you?
As the story unfolds, on Saturday 14 July’s episode, Alicia opens up to her new housemate who encourages her to confide in her about what has happened to her. Whilst hesitant at first, Alicia eventually divulges everything, including not only the events of that night but also details of the emotional turmoil that she has been going through, alone.
This demonstrates the importance of storylines such as this, emphasising the need to continue to raise awareness and embolden victims to come forward and offer them the support that they need and deserve, following events that nobody ever deserves.
Hugh James can assist in making a compensation claim on behalf of those that have suffered abuse and can act on a no win, no fee basis.