Emmerdale's Karen Blick on aftermath of Lydia's rape ordeal: ‘She just wants it to go away’
“She’s thinking about others. What will this do to Sam?"
This article includes discussions of rape and sexual assault that some readers may find upsetting.
Karen Blick has revealed new details about the aftermath of her Emmerdale character Lydia Dingle’s rape ordeal at the hands of old friend Craig Reed (Ben Addis).
Craig recently came back into Lydia’s life, offering her a cleaning job at his office. In scenes airing next week, Craig sexually assaults Lydia at work, and amid her distress she resolves to keep what’s happened to her a secret.
Emmerdale is working closely with Rape Crisis England and Wales, who tell us that 1 in 2 rapes against women are carried out by their partner or an ex partner.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com and other media at a recent press event, Blick explains what drives Lydia to keep quiet about the attack: “She’s thinking about others, ‘What will this do to Sam?’ She just wants it to go away.
“She’s fearful about being believed; she does not want to upset her family. That’s a big thing, we see Lydia in the aftermath, when she goes back to the Dingles, and Sam and Mandy are there.”
Exploring further why Lydia doesn’t go to the police, the actress admits: “That was something I wondered, and then as soon as I played the scenes I completely understood why she did not go to the police.
“I felt a real empathy, sympathy and understanding for her behaviour, because she feels guilty, she feels ashamed. She feels that it’s somehow her fault that she has put herself in that situation, which is completely incorrect. Lydia is at work when this happens, Lydia is very, very clear to Craig in that she says: 'There is nothing between us.’”
Jayne Butler, CEO of Rape Crisis, explains another distressing reason why women in Lydia’s position choose not to report rape.
“They might have a real fear about the perpetrator finding out, and the repercussions of that, either for themselves or for others around them. Particularly in this context, where the person who’s assaulting you is someone that you know,” says Butler.
“That could be a partner; it could be someone else who’s living with you, it could be somebody who knows where you live. It could be your boss, and have massive implications for you at work; so there’s lots and lots of reasons why people might choose [not to report rape].”
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As Blick reveals, Craig’s manipulative behaviour adds to Lydia's trauma in the aftermath: “[Lydia’s] having to go into work pretty much every day, back to the place where it happened, seeing the perpetrator who’s denying it even happened and her version of events.
“She’s been gaslighted and that’s just compounding her day to day life, and how she’s able to cope or not cope, and the self-doubt, feelings of guilt, ‘people are not going to believe me’. As time progresses as well, for Lydia, that becomes worse, because she’s saying ‘Well I’ll become even less credible, if I’ve left it this long,’ which is all hugely incorrect.”
Asked about filming the harrowing scenes in which Craig attacks Lydia, she tells us that the story was given the respect it deserves: “They were handled incredibly sensitively, as you can imagine. A number of weeks before we filmed the scenes, Tim Finn, the director, contacted me and we had a meeting.
“We talked through the script, we talked through the scenes, we talked through the shots. He was clear in terms of: ‘This is what I want to portray, these are the feelings, this is the story that we’re going to be telling.’"
“The meeting with Tim reassured me,” Blick explains. “I knew that Emmerdale were going to handle this sensitively and well. I felt completely safe in that particular way. And also we had an intimacy co-ordinator, we had a rehearsal as well, in situ so where we were going to be filming the scenes with the intimacy co-ordinator.
“So we had time and space in order to get this right. The intimacy co-ordinator’s input was really important in terms of myself and Ben who plays Craig: ‘This is where your hands will go, they will not go anywhere else.’”
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Filming the aftermath proved to be more of a challenge for Blick: “I feel the scenes after, when we see Lydia interact with Craig, they were harder to film than the attack in many ways, because you’ve got all these feelings, he’s not acknowledging it, then she doubts herself.”
Discussing how the story progresses, the star reveals how Lydia’s mindset gradually changes: “Weeks and further down the line, I can see the frustration: ‘If only I’d have done that, if only.' But she takes the decision that is right for her at that moment.
“It’s an absolutely horrendous situation for Lydia, and we do see the toll and the impact that that has, keeping this ordeal a secret. And that’s important because so many women do that.”
Anyone affected by Lydia's story can find support by visiting Rape Crisis, or calling our 24/7 Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Line on 0808 500 2222.
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