Emmerdale is set to air a storyline about rape as character Lydia Dingle gets attacked by a recently re-acquainted childhood friend.
Audiences will watch Dingle, played by Karen Blick, grapple with the aftermath of her ordeal as she weighs up whether or not to report the assault to police.
The long-running, Yorkshire-based soap has tackled hard-hitting storylines in the past and aired episodes earlier in the year, with the help from emotional support charity Samaritans, exploring the deterioration of Paddy Kirk’s mental health as he dealt with suicidal thoughts.
Next Week: Mack finds himself back at square one. Also: Lydia and Craig rekindle and is Paddy and Marlon's friendship on the rocks?
— Emmerdale (@emmerdale) August 18, 2023
To ensure Dingle’s story is portrayed accurately and sensitively, the storyline has been produced with the support of charity Rape Crisis England and Wales.
Speaking about the storyline, Blick said: “Lydia’s rape is one of the most important and sensitive stories I have been part of during my time in Emmerdale.
“The research, preparation and aftermath of this story has been challenging and eye opening for me.
“One in four women have been raped or sexually assaulted as an adult, and after reading this statistic I found myself standing in the canteen at ITV looking around as that figure really shocked me.”
The episodes detailing Lydia’s assault, airing in early September, will follow the character as she bonds with Craig, with whom she had a stillborn baby when they were in a relationship some time ago.
The pair will bond and talk about their baby before his behaviour turns sinister and he forces himself on her.
In the coming weeks, Dingle will struggle to come to terms with what has happened and her family and friends will grow worried about her, not realising what she has experienced.
Emmerdale producer Laura Shaw said the soap has never shied away from telling difficult but important stories.
“With five out of six women who are raped not reporting it to the police, we really wanted to raise awareness of this issue and hopefully encourage any women who have been in a similar position to Lydia to speak out,” she said.
“We’ve been working really closely with Rape Crisis, who have held our hand every step of the way and given us invaluable support to be able to tell the story as authentically and responsibly as possible.
“We’re also mindful of when Emmerdale airs on ITV, so the drama will be implicit rather than explicit.”
Jayne Butler, chief executive at Rape Crisis, said: “Lydia’s story will resonate with the thousands of victims and survivors who are raped or sexually assaulted in England and Wales every year.
“Although it can be difficult to see these experiences reflected on screen, when they are represented realistically and sensitively it can be a really powerful way to raise awareness.
“If anyone has been impacted by Lydia’s storyline, we want you to know that Rape Crisis is here for you.
“Whether it happened recently or a long time ago, or you’re not sure what happened – we have lots of information and support on our website that might help – www.rapecrisis.org.uk.
“You can also call our 24/7 Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Line on 0808 500 2222 or chat to us online 247sexualabusesupport.org.uk.”