Note: This article contains discussion of domestic abuse that some readers might find upsetting.
EastEnders spoilers follow.
EastEnders aired distressing scenes for Chantelle Atkins as her husband Gray's physical and mental abuse escalated tonight (September 8).
In last night's returning episode, viewers saw Chantelle (Jessica Plummer) take the first steps towards getting a divorce from her violent and controlling husband Gray (Toby-Alexander Smith) after suffering a horrific few months with him in lockdown.
In tonight's episode, however, Gray was tipped off to Chantelle's plans after spotting a pop-up advert from divorce lawyers on his laptop, and then realised the history had been recently cleared too.
When Chantelle returned home later on, Gray instantly began berating her, including criticising her appearance and questioning her whereabouts before he ultimately told her that he was going to begin divorce proceedings himself.
"Let's not waste any more time here," Gray told her. "It's best, get you out of our lives – all of our lives. My life, Mack and Mia... this isn't fair, not on any of us. We're better with you gone."
As Chantelle was left reeling from Gray's declaration, she went to take a bath – only for Gray to unlock the door from the outside and enter the bathroom to continue his abuse, ultimately offering Chantelle a chance to save their marriage.
"Don't just tell me, show me," he said, ignoring Chantelle's resistance which made it clear that this wasn't the first time Gray had done this to Chantelle.
"Just two minutes, to save our marriage – do it and I'll call the whole thing off."
Chantelle then lowered herself into the bath water as Gray timed her, leaving her struggling to breathe before Gray finally allowed her to resurface.
The soap has recently confirmed that Chantelle and Gray's story will reach a devastating conclusion later this month when Chantelle loses her life at Gray's hands.
Next week will see Chantelle put her plan to divorce Gray in motion, only for a suspicious Gray to disrupt her plans, with show bosses confirming that Chantelle will lose her life at the end of next week's harrowing scenes.
"It's been such a privilege to play Chantelle and to be able to tell her story," actress Jessica Plummer said earlier this month.
"Sadly what she goes through is all too common and her death is a reminder of the devastating effect of domestic abuse. 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."
EastEnders continues on Thursday, September 10 on BBC One.
We would encourage any readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story to contact Refuge (www.refuge.org.uk) or Women's Aid (www.womensaid.org.uk). The 24-hour, freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline is 0808 2000 247. The US National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or text LOVEIS to 22522.
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