IN Emmerdale, a pregnant Victoria admits to friends and family that she was raped - and they are stunned to hear she plans to keep the baby conceived as a result. Actress Isabel Hodgins tells Georgia Humphreys the reasons behind her character's decision, and reveals what it's like to act out such challenging scenes.

When Isabel Hodgins was told about her latest storyline in Emmerdale, she was understandably nervous.

In a recent flashback episode, we discovered that her character, Victoria Sugden - who she's played since 2006 - was raped by a fellow clubber called Lee (played by Kris Mochrie).

And while the 25-year-old actress was excited to explore such an important issue on screen, she also felt a responsibility.

"I wanted to do it justice and do it well, for the women and men that have been raped," notes the friendly star, who was born in Greater Manchester.

"But I was also like, 'Thank you for giving me a very big story'. And I just remember telling them, 'I will try my best and I hope that you're happy with my performance!'"

After confiding in former mother-in-law Moira Dingle (Natalie J Robb), Victoria is persuaded to report the rape to the police.

But they tell her there isn't enough forensic evidence to prosecute and when he's questioned the following week, Lee argues it was consensual.

Meanwhile, Victoria discovers she's pregnant - and decides she's not going to terminate the pregnancy.

"I think at first, she's still a bit numb," suggests Hodgins, who studied at the Sylvia Young Theatre School, when asked what her character is thinking at this point.

"There's so much to deal with, she can't even fathom that she has yet another decision to make when it comes to the baby."

It's no secret that Victoria has wanted to be a mum for a long time.

She wanted kids with her ex-husband Adam Barton (played by Adam Thomas) but he was infertile, which caused rifts in their marriage.

Then, last year, Adam confessed to the murder of Emma Barton, and was forced to go on the run, leaving Victoria behind.

"In her ideal world, it [the baby] would be with Adam and Adam would have been able to have children and they would have had this perfect little family unit," says Hodgins.

"Maybe she's thinking, 'When am I going to get another chance?'" she elaborates on why Victoria chooses to keep the baby. "She's very much single.

"I think if all you want is to be a mum, as soon as it says pregnant, I think something would kick in and you'd be like, 'That's my baby'."

But even though the chef knows what she wants to do, she has to deal with her family and friends, who are stunned when they learn she won't be terminating the pregnancy.

As more and more people find out about the rape, Victoria struggles to find the words to talk about it.

People like best friend Matty (Ash Palmisciano) and her ex-boyfriend Ellis (Asan N'Jie) struggle to take in the news.

Meanwhile, her big brother Robert (Ryan Hawley) decides he is unable to say he'll support Victoria's decision to have the baby.

"Robert is not a happy chappy! Not saying this is right or wrong, but for family members who know that this has happened to someone, I think they would be inclined to believe, 'You are not having this baby'.

"So, they put a bit of pressure on her, like, 'We need to go to the doctor's' or, 'Are you going to do something about it?' and she just shuts the conversation down.

"There are a few comments she doesn't like that Victoria bites back about."

Unsurprisingly, it ends up causing distance between her and Robert.

"He's just upsetting her," explains Hodgins, who was dating former co-star Michael Parr (who played Ross Barton in the ITV soap) until they reportedly split earlier this year.

"He doesn't mean to, but he is. She's like 'I can't do this without my brother' so there's a lot with Robert where he's trying to get his head around it.

"He wants to help but he just keeps making it worse with what he's saying."

Hodgins hopes that viewers seeing what Victoria goes through will open up a conversation about consent, and encourage victims to come forward.

"By the time she goes to the police, it's too late to do a physical exam," she says.

Victoria learns there's a "window for your best chance of prosecution or it going to trial", she continues.

"You need to go to the police, have an examination so they can collect all of the evidence that they can, which would give you a strong case."

Asked if she thinks Victoria's situation paves the way for Adam to come back, Hodgins quips: "Oh, if only! That's the dream - everything I do is so Adam will come back!"

But one thing she is certain about in her character's future is how the experience of being raped will change her as a person.

"I think she would live in fear," she says.

"Lee knows where she lives, he knows she's a chef, so who's to say he can't just rock in? So, I think she'd be on edge.

"But I think it will mostly change the way she is with men. I think her trust is scuppered and I would be interested to see what kind of mother she becomes after something like this has happened to her."

Watch Emmerdale on weeknights on ITV