In Friday night’s episode of the
Young couple Chantelle (Jessica Plummer) and Gray (Toby Alexander Smith), moved to Albert Square with their two children earlier this year.
Dark storyline: EastEnders are set to see a darker side to hunk Gray Atkins in a shocking new domestic abuse storyline
But in Friday’s episode, Gray, attacked his wife, a hair stylist, the minute they were alone and it soon became clear that this had happened before.
But Chantelle has kept the abuse secret and it soon becomes apparent she has been suffering in silence.
Jessica, who plays Chantelle, said she felt ‘honoured to take on the responsibility’ of the harrowing storyline.
‘This is an issue that I, and everyone at EastEnders, hope we can raise awareness of,’ she said.
Shocking: In Friday night’s episode of the BBC soap, viewers witnessed ‘the devastating truth’ about the successful solicitor and his wife Chantelle who appear ‘to have the perfect life’
‘Many women and men that are in Chantelle’s situation suffer in silence and we really hope that by showing this story we can highlight an issue and encourage those in similar situations to seek the help they need.’
Toby, who plays Gray, said the couple’s story would ‘take a huge turn for the audience’.
‘This storyline will depict how hidden from sight domestic abuse remains even today,’ he said.
‘To the unaware eye Gray appears to be a loving husband and a committed father but his charm is a front for the power and control he exerts over Chantelle – an experience all too common to thousands of women up and down the country today.
Domestic violence: But in Friday’s episode, Gray, attacked his wife, a hair stylist, the minute they were alone and it soon became clear that this had happened before
‘Domestic abuse, in all its forms, is against the law and is shrouded in secrecy.
‘I hope that by tackling such a sensitive subject matter we can raise awareness of the importance of changing societal values so that both women and men’s rights to live free from abuse, invasion, disempowerment and intimidation are respected.’
The BBC One soap worked with Refuge and Women’s Aid on the story and script.
EastEnders boss Kate Oates said: ‘When Chantelle and Gray arrived on the Square, they gave many of their neighbours a big dose of life-envy with their perfect relationship and no-filter-needed looks and lifestyle.
‘But there is truth in the old adage that you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors, and the very first time we crossed the threshold of Number One, we saw the truth of their relationship, and the violence Gray subjects Chantelle to.
‘In this story, we seek to acknowledge the fact that any relationship, however outwardly enviable, can be affected by violence and abuse.
‘Chantelle is strong and capable, with friends and family to support her, and yet she is still unable to voice what is happening to her, and is therefore preventing anyone from helping her because she regards her abuse as a shameful secret.
‘We hope this story encourages women and men who experience violence to seek out the help we know they deserve.’
Tragic: Jessica, who plays Chantelle, said she felt ‘honoured to take on the responsibility’ of the harrowing storyline