Hourglass works with EastEnders on new storyline featuring the sexual abuse of an older person

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Published 17th April 2024

Hourglass is proud to have worked with the team behind long-running BBC soap EastEnders on a new storyline which features the sexual abuse of an older person.


This new storyline features Yolande Trueman, played by Angela Wynters who is sexually assaulted by Pastor Clayton, a man who she considered a close confidant and friend. As the storyline develops, Yolande will struggle to come to terms with this abuse committed by someone she thought she could trust.


Alongside the End Violence Against Women Coalition, Hourglass worked with the EastEnders team providing advice, information and guidance to ensure that the story is told with sensitivity and accuracy.


Deputy CEO of Hourglass and Director of Policy Veronica Gray worked hand-in-hand with the writing team as the storyline developed and the signs of abuse became more and more apparent. Veronica said: 


“This is a landmark moment for all older victims of abuse in the UK and beyond.

“EastEnders, shaping a storyline around the too-often hidden nightmare of sexual abuse of older people, finally brings this issue out of the shadows and into public consciousness.

“We hope this will start an important conversation in many households across the UK. Hourglass is delighted to work with EastEnders on this storyline to provide advice, and we were impressed by how engaged the script writers were and how keen they were to be authentic and respectful.

“Abuse of older people comes in many forms, and Hourglass urges anyone affected to make contact with us.”

The scenes will air in a special hour-long episode of EastEnders on Wednesday 17th April and will include flashback accounts of previous sexual assault committed by the perpetrator. Yolande, the victim-survivor in the show is a much-loved character first appearing in September 2003 as the love interest of long-time fan favorite character Patrick Trueman. The BBCs decision to involve such an established character in this storyline speaks volumes about their commitment to highlighting that sexual abuse can happen to anyone.


Executive producer of EastEnders, Chris Clenshaw said: 

“We hope this episode will raise awareness of how women at any age can be groomed by someone in a position of power”.

“It was vital for us to work alongside End Violence Against Women Coalition and Hourglass to truthfully present and sensitively portray Yolande’s sexual assault storyline.”

While these scenes will likely be challenging to view, they are a stark reminder of the reality of the abuse of older people which is estimated to affect at least 2.7 million older people each and every year in the UK. However, this is likely just the tip of the iceberg due to many cases of abuse going unreported due to lack of awareness about support options, fear of exclusion or losing out on vital care needs. Sadly, the true levels of abuse may be even higher than we imagine.


Despite the abuse of older people being so widespread, public awareness is shockingly low with our Last in Line report in 2021 finding that just 7% of the public think of older adults when they think of victims of abuse, compared to 20% of people who think of animals. 


Not one person surveyed thought the number of people affected by abuse reaches over 2.7 million each year and nearly a fifth thought there were only 250,000 older people affected by abuse, just 10% of the actual number of victims. It’s clear from this research that we still have a lot of work to do in order to change the public’s perception, awareness and understanding around the abuse of older people.


Especially so for older victim-survivors of sexual abuse, the type of abuse that is predominantly featured in this EastEnders storyline. According to Hourglass data, calls to our 24/7 helpline pertaining to sexual abuse constitute 3% of cases, however this is likely to just scratch the surface of the real number of older people affected. According to Rape Crisis UK, 83% of women who are sexually assaulted do not report it. Combine this with the underreporting of abuse against older people in general and it becomes clear that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg.


That is why this EastEnders storyline is so important, to raise awareness on a platform that reaches millions of people across the UK. It is a landmark moment for the charity, the cause and the people we support. Representation matters and we hope that this episode helps older victim-survivors of abuse feel validated, seen and understood. 


This episode should spark discussions in homes across the UK about the abuse of older people, spotting the signs and the support options that are available. 

You can watch the full episode on BBCiPlayer here


In January, we held a webinar in collaboration with our friends at Limeculture, the Revenge Porn Helpline and independent researcher Amanda-Warburton Wynn to speak about the sexual abuse of older people. You can watch the full webinar here.


If you’re over 60 and have been affected by abuse or are concerned about someone who might need help, you can contact our 24/7 helpline on 0808 808 8141 or alternatively visit our support page for further services such as the Instant Messenger or SMS service.


Read the full Safer Ageing Indexes, covering England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Greater London.