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Home Office continues anti-abuse campaign with teen rape ad featuring Hollyoaks actors

The UK Home Office has launched a new ad as part of its ongoing ‘This is Abuse’ campaign featuring a rape scene played out by Hollyoaks actors to raise awareness of sexual abuse within relationships to teenagers.

The ad, which ran after the 9pm watershed on Channel 4 last night (1 February), features a confrontation between the characters, player by actor Jeremy Sheffield and actress Nikki Sanderson after she refuses to give her consent for sex.

The ad, which is the second to star the two Hollyoaks actors, is part of a wider campaign to demonstrate to teenagers what constitutes abuse and consent in a relationship and directs them to the This is Abuse website for advice on how to challenge unacceptable behaviour and where to receive help.

Crime Prevention minister Norman Baker said: "Many young people do not understand that rape can, and does happen in relationships.

"We know that 33 per cent of girls and 16 per cent of boys have experienced some form of sexual violence from a boyfriend or girlfriend - this is why early intervention is crucial in order to prevent abuse before it starts.

"Our new 'This is Abuse' television advert encourages teenagers to re-think their views about rape, consent, violence and abuse, and gives them the tools they need to identify and challenge this behaviour when they see it."

Experience of rape and sexual assault among teenagers is widespread both between partners and peer groups, according to research cited by the Home Office. This campaign aims to change attitudes early by challenging the view among teenagers that abuse in relationships is acceptable.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: "Too many young people assume violence or emotional abuse is a normal part of relationships. It's vital that we get the message across that it isn't right, it isn't their fault, and there are people ready to help them.

"NSPCC research with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds found that more than half of girls questioned said they had been in a sexually violent relationship before they were 18. And a quarter of boys said they had dated physically aggressive partners.

"Society must accept the ugly truth that what we call domestic abuse can start very early in life. It's not when people become adults, it's what they see and learn from childhood; often from witnessing violence in their own family or among their peers.

"I hope that the government's This is Abuse campaign encourages any young person who needs help, or knows someone who is suffering abuse, to take action to make it stop."

Another ad featuring the two actors ran last December with the character Patrick looking through Maxine's phone before telling her to change her clothes before going out as she looks "cheap" (see below).

Featured by The Drum