EastEnders have confirmed that Chantelle Atkins is to be killed off by her abusive husband, Gray, following a harrowing storyline.

Earlier in the year, viewers saw Gray's abuse on his wife escalate to new levels with Chantelle ending up in hospital treatment.

With the show returning to screens tonight, viewers will see that Chantelle's abuse has worsened during the lockdown period after being stuck at home with her husband.

Despite not telling anybody about the physical and emotional pain she has endured over recent years, Chantelle's new boss Kheerat Panesar has become aware of suspicious behaviour and vows to help her.

Chantelle is set to be murdered by Gray this month

In scenes to air this month, Chantelle makes a desperate escape in a bid to save her life - a decision which eventually costs her, her life.

Bosses at the BBC One soap have not yet revealed how Chantelle's life will come to an ending but they admitted to working closely with Women's Aid and Refuge on the storyline.

Jon Sen, executive producer said: "Being able to shed light on the realities of what goes on behind closed doors has never been more crucial given the harrowing statistics as a result of the current pandemic and hopefully Chantelle's story will encourage people to speak out to someone they trust and get the support that they need."

Chantelle's suffering has worsened during the lockdown period

He added: "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."

Refuge, which a 24-hour domestic abuse helpline has seen a rise of 54 per cent of women contacting them as the lockdown period eased in the first week of July.

While Women's Aid said that two-thirds of domestic abuse survivors reported that their abuse had worsened during the lockdown.

Gray's attacks on his wife have seen her ending up in hospital recently

Speaking about her dramatic ending, actress Jessica Kate Plummer who plays Chantelle said: "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.

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

Refuge has seen a 54 per cent increase in calls to its domestic abuse helpline in recent months

Director of communications at Refuge, Lisa King said that the charity were "delighted" to have worked with bosses on EastEnders for the storyline.

"The Covid-19 crisis has magnified the reality that many survivors like Chantelle face every day. Domestic abuse is the biggest issue affecting our society and millions of women and girls remain trapped with an abusive partner.

"Sadly, Chantelle's murder is not an isolated incident – on average, two women a week are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales.

If you or anybody close to you has been affected by Chantelle's story, contact Refuge's National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247 or their website www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk ).

EastEnders returns to BBC One on Monday 7 th September at 8.05pm.