EastEnders actress Louisa Lytton says she has been “surprised” at the strong reaction to her character’s rape storyline.
The actress told Lorraine on ITV she had been contacted by a number of fans who had been personally affected by the show.
The soap has been praised by charities for tackling the issue of consent.
Lytton said she was “grateful to be trusted” with the story and hopes she does it “justice”.
“You have to do this justice because there will be millions of viewers watching that will relate, and that almost need this as support or confirmation, so it’s important that it is done right,” she said.
The storyline which started this week has drawn praise for Lytton’s performance and had a strong reaction from fans on social media.
On Tuesday’s episode Lytton’s character Ruby Allen questioned whether she had been raped when she woke up unexpectedly in bed with Matt and then had sex.
“I couldn’t move, I didn’t do anything I just laid there. I didn’t say no,” she told her friend Stacey.
But “you didn’t say yes” Stacey responded.
The show worked closely with Rape Crisis who said a lot more education was needed around the question of consent.
Katie Russell from the charity told Lorraine: “Quite often victims and survivors will talk to us at Rape Crisis about having frozen.
“Sometimes like Ruby they feel conflicted about that, because they feel like maybe they should have done more and spoken out, but actually consent is not just not saying no or not fighting back, it’s actively, positively, freely saying yes.”
Lytton said she was “surprised” at the number of people messaging her directly on social media “just saying thank you this is the closure that I’ve needed for so long, you know this incident happened to me ten years ago I questioned whether it was rape or not and this episode has confirmed to me that it was.”
Many females can relate to Ruby #EastEnders & how shes feeling about whats happened & how she feels about herself after. When she said “I felt like I owed him” that broke my ❤. Rape is not always a violent act & long overdue for a soap to explore this.
— Emma (@Brummiebird79) October 9, 2018
Tonight’s episode of #Eastenders was tough to watch but a good storyline to show that rape isint always the person saying no and putting up a fight and no matter how it happened the person should never feel like they’re to blame. “I didn’t say no” ” you didn’t say yes” 💔
— Hayleigh (@HayleighTobin97) October 9, 2018
Some fans have questioned Ruby’s behaviour at the party the evening before she was raped, and Katie Russell said that reaction shows how important it was to do the story.
“It will be evident as the story unfolds with the characters, but it’s evident as well with the way the public has already received the scenes so far, that we still have a lot of public education and awareness raising when it comes to the issue of consent.”
Lytton agreed: “I was surprised by how quickly that reaction has happened and that’s the whole point of this storyline to hopefully open up this conversation for men and women and then eventually to educate.”