Spoilers: EastEnders star speaks out as Chantelle dies at Gray's hands

EastEnders star Jessica Plummer has thrown her weight behind a harrowing storyline that sees her character Chantelle Atkins die at the hands of her abusive husband Gray (Toby Alexander-Smith) after an 18 month arc.

The star admitted that she was shocked when she first discovered the devastating fate for Chantelle but, having worked with Refuge and Women’s Aid as well as real women who have been in Chantelle’s situation, Jessica is certain that it’s the right thing for EastEnders to shine a light on the horrifying statistics around domestic violence and spousal murder.

The star shared: ‘I’ve known it wasn’t going to end well for Chantelle for a while now and although it was a shock to find out her fate, far too many men and women suffer in silence so I hope that by raising awareness we can ultimately save lives.

‘I am so grateful to all the team and my lovely cast members for being so supportive, I’ll miss Albert Square!’

The storyline will play out across this month as EastEnders returns to our screens on Monday September 7.

Chantelle will commence an escape plan after contacting a lawyer, but tragically, Gray will intervene and stop her with fatal consequences.

Toby shared: ‘We hope that Chantelle’s story gives people the courage to speak out before it’s too late and to know that there are services out there to help.

EastEnders domestic violence – get support

Two thirds of women who were experiencing abuse from their partner/ex-partner in June told a Women’s Aid study that their abuser had started using lockdown restrictions or the Covid-19 virus and its consequences as part of the abuse.  (66.7% of those answering question – Women’s Aid Survivor Survey, June 2020).

At the height of lockdown over three quarters of women living with an abuser said they felt they could not leave or get away because of the pandemic. (78.6% of those answering question – Women’s Aid Survivor Survey, April 2020).

You can get support and information from Women’s Aid by visiting the website or contacting the free instant messaging service.

You can get support and information from Refuge – which holds a comprehensive and detailed guide to seeking help on the website.

‘Working with Women’s Aid and Refuge has been invaluable in understanding the mindset of an abuser and the awful realities of abusive relationships. With such a tragic ending bound to be shocking for the audience, hopefully it serves as an important reminder of the devastation domestic abuse causes, especially at the moment.

‘Working with Jessica has been wonderful, she’ll be greatly missed and I am so thankful that we’re part of such an important story together.’

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Women’s Aid released the startling statistics that over two-thirds of survivors reported their domestic abuse escalating in lockdown. More research revealed over three quarters of women living with an abuser said they felt they could not leave or get away because of the pandemic.

In the first week of July, as lockdown lifted, Refuge saw a 54% rise in women contacting its helpline needing refuge emergency accommodation, when compared with the last week in June.

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