CHANTELLE Atkins will be trapped by abusive husband Gray next week in EastEnders after she tells him she’s leaving.
The long-suffering wife has been enduring harrowing mental and physical abuse at the hands of her violent husband for months on the BBC One soap – and will finally decide to leave Gray this week after spending months in lockdown with the monster.
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Next week’s episodes of EastEnders will see Chantelle pack her suitcase under the pretence that she’s going on a family holiday.
When Gray opens the door to the Taylor family dressed for a holiday, he’s shocked that Chantelle didn’t tell him about the trip.
But Chantelle manages to persuade Gray that it was a last minute decision and get him to agree to let her go.
Later, Chantelle visits Kheerat and tells him about her plans to never return.
Meanwhile, a string of events make Gray suspicious of Chantelle’s motives.
Chantelle is relieved to see her plan to escape to a women’s refuge coming together, but when she arrives home she’s horrified to discover that Gray has convinced her parents that the kids should stay at home.
When Chantelle retreats to a cafe during their holiday, Mitch notices something is up with his daughter and follows her.
But Chantelle doesn’t open up and insists she’s just missing Mia and Mack.
Mitch does his best to fix things and heads back to Walford to fetch them.
Chantelle is overjoyed but as she heads out to meet them, she’s horrified to realise that Gray has accompanied Mitch on his return.
Gray doesn’t wait long to insist that he, Chantelle and the kids go back to Walford.
As they leave, Mitch detects a flicker of fear on Chantelle’s face.
When Chantelle and Gray arrive back in Walford, Chantelle eventually blurts out that she’s leaving him.
How will Gray react?
EastEnders have revealed that, after bravely attempting to escape from Gray, Chantelle will be killed by her abuser.
The soap has worked closely with Women’s Aid and Refuge on the storyline.
Jon Sen, executive producer of the soap, said: "Chantelle's story is such an important one to tell accurately and upon both characters' inception we planned her tragic ending with the intention of embedding the stark reality of domestic abuse at the heart of the Atkins family.
"Jessica's performance is nothing short of extraordinary and even in her final scenes, the audience will be moved by Chantelle's strength. We're very sorry so see Jessica go but hope that her impact on viewers is long-lasting."
Speaking about why Chantelle decides to escape to a women’s refuge rather than confiding in her family, actress Jessica Plummer said: "Chantelle’s parents have a relationship with her husband, so for her to tell her parents is to potentially not escape. Gray is clever, he’s smart and he’s not going to let her just walk out of the door. I think it’s easier for her to just run."
Speaking about the importance of the domestic abuse storyline, Jessica added: "It’s important to show that this is still domestic abuse even though it doesn’t look like the typical cowering in a corner, locked in a room versions. To the outside world Gray is charismatic, he’s charming, he’s successful – he’s perhaps not the typical person that is portrayed in domestic abuse storylines."
Talking about the tragic end to the harrowing storyline, Toby Alexander-Smith – who plays Gray – said: “It’s certainly going to be a shock for the audience and I think that it is important that it concludes in such a tragic way.
"So we’re encouraging women to speak out before that does happen because sadly it is happening. And it’s happening more and more frequently."
He added: "And the importance of this storyline is to give the women courage to speak out and to know that people are listening and to know that there are services out there to help. As shocking as it is to watch hopefully it will give the survivors out there the courage to reach out and get help."
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