Ben Mitchell has had an extremely traumatic year in EastEnders, but he is set to find strength in a surprising place, as actor Max Bowden revealed.
After having been raped by Lewis Butler last year, Ben was shocked to learn that he had been arrested and charged in connection with another rape almost a year later.
At the same time, he was struggling to come to terms with the fact that Lola Pearce (Danielle Harold) was dying of a brain tumour, despite undergoing treatment in an attempt to prolong her life.
These traumatic experiences weighed heavily on Ben, who soon developed bulimia, which he has suffered with in silence ever since.
‘I think there’s a level of isolation to Ben’s demeanour at the moment,’ actor Max Bowden revealed.
‘He tends to be quite a lone wolf, quite an insular human being and this is something that he does to try and take control of the situation so I think for him right now it’s a question of dealing with everything on the outside by attacking himself on the inside.’
In upcoming scenes, Ben is left in a terrible state as pressures continue to pile up following Jay Brown’s (Jamie Borthwick) parental hearing and Honey Mitchell’s (Emma Barton) suspicions that he is suffering with an eating disorder.
‘Ben’s self-loathing is at a real high at the moment,’ Mex explained.
‘He’s got guilt for not arriving home in time to say goodbye to Lola, the guilt of making himself sick through his bulimia and he sees a lot of good qualities in Jay that he wishes he could replicate.
‘Ben’s default setting is to defend, so he’ll always defend himself when he feels like he’s on the back foot.
‘Honey immediately picks up on Ben’s struggles, having suffered an eating disorder herself so she can start the see the signs. They have also gone through a period of bonding with the family coming together after Lola’s death but the internal damage the Ben holds on to forces him to push everyone away.
‘We are starting to see little sparks of growth with him, but defence is his immediate reaction.’
As Ben takes his emotions out on a punch bag at Boxing Den, Kat Slater (Jessie Wallace) is shocked by the state of him.
When she learns what has got him so worked up, she offers some advice from the perspective of a fellow rape survivor, warning him that if he doesn’t seek help it will tear him and his family apart.
‘It’s a very unique situation because I don’t think anyone ever saw Ben confiding so deeply in Kat and finding real common ground with his step-mother-to-be.
‘Kat’s a very fiery character and there are a lot of similarities between Ben and Kat. Aspects of trauma, aspects of fieriness, family problems, and I think this takes Ben by surprise.
‘Ben finds strength within strength and Kat is a very strong woman and she’s also the closest link to his father. Ben can’t talk to Phil because he just doesn’t get things like this.’
Having heard Kat out, Ben agrees to let her accompany him to a support group.
The pair head to an assessment together, where Ben finally finds the strength to open up about his trauma.
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