Corrie star addresses whether Aaron can be redeemed in Amy rape story

A major upcoming storyline in Coronation Street will tackle the issue of consent in sexual relationships, as the character of Amy Barlow (Elle Mulvaney) wakes up to find that flatmate Aaron Sandford (James Craven) has had sex with her without her consent after she was too drunk the night before to realise what was going on.

The evening before, Aaron and Amy had shared a kiss before a night out with Aaron’s girlfriend Summer (Harriet Bibby). He ends up arguing with Summer, partly because he feels guilty about the kiss with Amy and soon heads off home. Amy follows later and they start playing a drinking game. When Amy heads to the bedroom in search of more alcohol, Aaron follows and they kiss again, but Amy feels ill and pushes him away. He, however, carries on to have sex with her – without her consent.

For actor James, these scenes and his character’s actions were difficult to play.

‘To find a way for the character to justify his actions was quite a hard thing,’ he explained. ‘He hasn’t been this malicious character or evil character in the past but I think that’s the really important thing about the story and that’s why it should be so important because despite the way he is as a person, he’s still capable of doing something like that.

’That’s the important thing to highlight here – if someone’s in that state, because he’s had the alcohol and all the emotions are heightened to the max it makes him vulnerable to getting himself in this situation as well.’

James is very clear that his character’s actions are wrong.

‘He doesn’t check in with himself and importantly doesn’t check in with Amy that she’s ok with all of this. It’s a lack of care due to a lack of thought,’ he said. ‘He assumes she’s ok to continue, because as far as he’s concerned everything leading up to this moment has been fine and she’s been ok with everything. He definitely fails to read the signals.’

The writers and cast had the advice and support of a charity called the Schools Consent Project and James said that their help had been invaluable.

‘They filled us in with all of the facts and figures and it was really interesting to hear about the work that they were doing and how they approached the situation and what kind of situations they’re dealing with,’ he told us. ‘It also just reaffirmed for us why we were doing the story in the first place, because it does highlight the fact that unfortunately this is something that is far too common and is far too normalised and hopefully and after something like this we could try to do something to help that, I think.’

As the story going forward focuses on Amy’s reaction when she realises she’s been raped, it also brings in her family and friends and the police also get involved.

James hopes that his character will be able to be redeemed by taking full responsibility for his actions and being determined to learn from what he’s done.

’I’d like to hope that he tries to make amends for it and tries to realise his wrongdoings and tries to make up for it,’ he said.

‘I think the most important thing that people can take away from this is that no matter how you’re feeling, no matter whether you’ve had a lot to drink, you’re happy, you’re sad, you’re confused, angry – but when you find yourself in these intimate situations be it with a friend, a girlfriend, a partner or someone you’ve just met, the absence of no is not a yes. Only a yes is a yes, and that’s all there is to it.’

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