EastEnders has said it hopes its new domestic abuse storyline, which has seen Chantelle Atkins attacked by her husband Gray, will encourage "women and men who experience violence to seek out the help we know they deserve".

In Friday's episode, viewers saw the reality of Chantelle (played by Jessica Plummer) and Gray's (played by Toby-Alexander Smith) relationship, with the Press Association reporting that the BBC soap has collaborated with UK charities Refuge and Women's Aid on the story and script.

"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," said EastEnders boss Kate Oates.

"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," Oates continued. 

"We hope this story encourages women and men who experience violence to seek out the help we know they deserve."

"It is important when portraying domestic abuse on screen to make it as realistic as possible, and EastEnders have been working with us from the early stages of the storyline, through to advising on themes to the detail of the scripts," said Women's Aid UK's Head of Communications, Teresa Parker.

"From the initial red flags to seeing what is going on behind closed doors, this storyline has been thoroughly researched with experts in domestic abuse."

Chantelle and her family arrived in Albert Square earlier this year

Actress Plummer said she felt "honoured to take on the responsibility" of portraying Chantelle.

"This is an issue that I, and everyone at EastEnders, hope we can raise awareness of," Plummer continued.

"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."

If you have been affected by issues raised in this story, please visit: www.rte.ie/helplines.

EastEnders airs on RTÉ One and BBC One on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

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