Coronation Street writers have been working on a brand new storyline, which will explore the devastating effects of historic child sexual abuse within a family.

In the next few weeks, the Winter family will see patriarch Kel come back into the fold, when Gemma and Paul's mother Bernie is reuited with her ex. It soon becomes apparent however, that Paul is unnerved by his return, and is struggling with his presence on the street.

Though Gemma and Bernie don't know it yet, Paul was sexually abused and groomed as a young teenager by Kel, to the point where he believed he was in a consensual relationship with his stepfather.

When Paul's boyfriend, Billy Mayhew discovers what happened, he encourages his partner to come forward, explaining that he was being sexually abused and taken advantage of as a young child.

Producers and writers on the soap are working closely with Survivors Manchester, who are advising on the story.

Duncan Craig from the charity said: “Following on from our work on the David Platt rape storyline, I am delighted that Coronation Street have once again asked us at Survivors Manchester to help them with this sensitive storyline. We learned so much together before and the effort made last time is allowing us to tackle the finer and complex details of Paul’s feelings and behaviour. This story is going to resonate with so many male survivors, I’m proud of Coronation Street for committing to making sure it’s right.

“Peter (Ash) and I have been talking a lot about how Paul would be feeling and I have shared some of my own experiences of breaking my silence which Peter has handled with so much care. I know this story will be difficult but as a survivor I have to say it is vital if we are to understand male sexual violence and abuse. Well done Corrie for being brave enough to tell this true story.

“Once again, I’m proud to stand with Coronation Street in telling a difficult story as truthfully and as sensitively as possible. Their commitment to being authentic to real life issues is inspiring and I know first-hand the actual impact of these stories being told - our last piece of work together resulted in a 1700% increase in calls to the male survivor helpline!”

Ash adds: “I have known about this storyline for some time so have had the opportunity to speak to Duncan Craig at Survivors Manchester in advance of filming which has been great. His experience was really similar to Paul’s so it was invaluable for me to be able to talk about all the conflicting emotions and not accepting or realising it was abuse until later on in life. I have also spoken to Jack P Shepherd about how he found filming the male rape storyline and he told me about the increase in calls to Survivors Manchester off the back of it which is incredible. It’s an important storyline and I want to get it right.”

Producer Iain MacLeod said: “Gemma and Paul’s family background has always been fascinating to me - the inseparable bond of twins but with a huge fault-line down the middle, which we’ve hinted at but never explained. This story sensitively explores something that is tragically all too common in families in the real world and will highlight the way these painful events still reverberate many years later. It will, I hope, allow people who have survived similar abuse and perhaps suffered in silence to find their voice and speak up. It will also showcase the brilliant talents of Peter Ash, Dolly-Rose Campbell, Jane Hazlegrove and Corrie newcomer Joe Alessi in some incredibly challenging, powerful scenes. I am very proud of this story.”

Coronation Street continues weekdays on ITV.


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