Hollyoaks fans finally saw the evil schoolboy rapist Finn O’Connor (played by Keith Rice) arrested last week in some rather dramatic episodes.
As long-standing fans of the show will know, Finn began his campaign of terror many months ago, targeting his gay teacher John-Paul McQueen (played by James Sutton) and subjecting him to months of homophobic bullying. This horrendous bullying reached a dark peak in January when Finn knocked his teacher over the head and raped him as he lay semi-conscious, saying he wanted to teach John-Paul “who the real man is”.
This importantly highlighted the fact that the vast majority of male-on-male rapes involve an element of homophobia and the desire to control, humiliate and intimidate the victim – rather than being fueled by lust.
Since then, viewers have seen the heartbreaking effect of the rape on John-Paul, which left him feeling frightened, humiliated and afraid of intimacy. Finn, meanwhile, seemed invigorated by the rape and seemed to enjoy the new sense of power it gave him over his teacher, who understandably became very afraid of him.
Things came to a head this week as Finn ambushed and attempted to rape Nancy Osborne (played by Jessica Fox) in the pub car-park after they argued in the village earlier in the day. Nancy recognised the smell of Finn’s aftershave when he hugged her at her wedding the next day and announced to the whole wedding reception that it was Finn who had tried to rape her. When members of the O’Connor family sprang to Finn’s defence and told Nancy she was mistaken, John-Paul finally got the courage to speak out, telling everyone that he knew that Nancy was telling the truth because Finn had raped him too. Finn was promptly arrested.
Both Keith Rice (who plays Finn) and James Sutton (who plays John-Paul) have been absolutely fantastic in their roles, in my opinion. Sutton has perfectly captured the sense of loss, confusion, shame, hurt and fear that comes from being raped, and Rice has been every inch the homophobic bully who uses rape only as a weapon.
I’m very interested to see where the storyline goes from here. No doubt the characters will next have to go through the arduous court process, which can be extremely traumatic and stressful for all involved. And no doubt that those close to both the victim and the perpetrator will now have to come to terms with the fact that their loved one has been subjected to, or committed, a truly horrifying act.
Properly exploring the impact of rape is extremely important and I’m sure that John-Paul and Finn’s actors will do a fantastic job – I for one will be watching with eager anticipation.