Home and Away's Lisa Gormley.

Make-ups and break-ups are the first things that generally come to mind at the mention of soap operas. But Home and Away star Lisa Gormley's character Bianca Scott has helped bring more serious issues to light since starting on the show in 2010.

Last year Bianca was sexually assaulted after being drugged and attacked by a mystery assailant who turned out to be Dean O'Mara.

Last month, her son Rocco died from SIDS and the troubled teacher has turned to drugs to deal with the loss.

"All these issues really affect people," Gormley says. "The reason we do it is to draw attention to an issue and get people talking about it.

"I'm still getting updates on people who were inspired and are going through court cases at the moment about the rape storyline from last year. People were brave and started getting counselling."

While the NIDA graduate says she feels privileged to tackle serious issues, performing the heartbreaking scenes can be emotionally draining.

"The research is the hardest part," she says. "You do enough of that research and it's all just there. I have huge amounts of empathy for these people. It's your job. If you're not brave enough to think and feel the way they have, you shouldn't be doing this job.

"You know friends who have been through things like this and I'll sit there for nights and nights just going through the internet and reading stories about psychological breakdowns."

On Monday night's show, Bianca finally broke down and admitted she was deeply saddened by Rocco's death when her sister April raised the issue at new fling Adam's party.

Over the past few weeks, Bianca's relationship with Adam (Martin Lynes) has in its own way acted as a catalyst for her healing. Instead of turning to Heath, Gormley says Bianca pushed her former partner away in order to deal with the situation.

"One of the main symptoms of people dealing with this kind of grief is that they want to be a completely different person," Gormley says. "Some people cut their hair, some people run away; some people change their name - anything to basically escape the grief.

"She tries to cut out anything that reminds her because at the moment she can't talk about it.

"It's too overwhelming and she's had moments where she's felt the grief and it's too much.

"Adam comes into her life after a moment in time where she has let her guard down, she's felt the overwhelming pain and she's broken down and gone 'This is not a way to live, it's too physically painful. I'm going to get up and go out and get on with my life'."

Unfortunately, with Adam's comfort came Bianca's new-found need for drugs. "Adam comes along at a time when she's looking to quell that pain.

"She's not looking to get high, she doesn't want to have fun, she just wants to be completely numb," Gormley explains.

"He really is for that point in time for her a bit of an angel.

"He has no ties to her past so she can be a completely different person with him."

But after breaking down, it seems Bianca is ready to start the healing process properly which begs the question - what will become of her relationship with Heath? "You'd hope they get back together. This is probably the biggest thing a couple will have to deal with," Gormley says.

"People deal with these kind of things entirely differently. Heath broke down within minutes of it happening, Bianca didn't. When people are grieving in different ways it's very difficult for them to find a level playing field."

With another year on her contract, Gormley plans to stay with Home and Away for now but she's worried Bianca's dramatic storylines may run dry.

"I've had huge things to deal with. I'm worried that the writers will be like 'Well, she's kind of done everything, she should probably just join the circus and leave'."

The West Australian

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