Emmerdale confirms future plans for Tom and Belle King's dark storyline

The following article contains discussion of themes including coercive control and domestic abuse.

Emmerdale spoilers follow.

Emmerdale has confirmed Tom and Belle King's dark storyline will explore themes of domestic abuse.

There have been worrying signs about Belle's new husband Tom over the last several months, as the ways he's lashed out have ranged from cruel insults to physically shoving her.

With the couple back from their honeymoon after a disastrous wedding night, Tom has made a show of humiliating Belle for her latest attempt at a romantic gesture.

Over the coming weeks, Tom's controlling nature will become more evident as he begins to use technology to constantly monitor his wife's whereabouts.

The show has confirmed this long-range storyline will cover numerous ways abusive partners can vicitimise their spouses, including through coercive control, physical violence, emotional abuse and technology-facilitated abuse.

james chase as tom and eden taylor draper as belle in emmerdale

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While Belle has started to question whether she made a mistake marrying Tom, she loses sight of this over time as he manipulates her with love-bombing and escalating abuse.

"When we first heard from the producers the way the Tom and Belle relationship story was going to go, we were fully aware of the responsibility that would bring," Belle actress Eden Taylor-Draper has said.

"But it is an important story to tell. Soaps offer the viewer a glimpse of life behind closed doors and reveal what people present to the world isn't always a truth. The sad reality is that behaviour like this in a relationship is all too prevalent. I hope we do this story justice. And if people are in a situation like this they should definitely get help."

Producer Laura Shaw and the Emmerdale team have been working with advocacy groups, New Beginnings Peer Support and Refuge, to showcase the circumstances that one in four women in the UK face during their lifetime.

"Soaps are in the extraordinary position of being able to highlight what happens behind the public face of an abusive relationship, over a longer period of time, "Laura Shaw said. "The audience knows these characters so well, sometimes as well as they might know their own friends and family and they care deeply about them.

"As harrowing as it can be to watch this type of storyline play out, it's imperative that we use our platform to shine a light on domestic abuse, and help give a voice to people who have so often been silenced."

belle dingle, tom king, emmerdale

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This unflinching storyline is particularly timely because Emmerdale's research shows that instances of technology-facilitated domestic abuse (or Tech Abuse) have risen since the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Beginnings Peer Support CEO Lindsay Olive has said of Belle and Tom's story: "As an after-crisis service we see the longevity of the trauma resulting from domestic abuse and firmly believe preventative measures are key. We therefore very much welcome Emmerdale covering this storyline to highlight the realities of domestic abuse, red flags within a relationship and the challenges of leaving.

"Domestic abuse remains a hidden pandemic and the more information in the public domain to increase awareness, the higher the chance of perpetrator behaviour being recognised and victims gaining the support they require."

Emma Pickering, of Refuge, has credited Emmerdale with bringing vital awareness to issues surrounding Tech Abuse and other forms of domestic abuse.

"Refuge is pleased to have had the opportunity to work with the writers and producers of Emmerdale, to develop the storyline between Tom and Belle and show viewers the sad realities of domestic abuse," Emma said.

Emmerdale airs on weeknights at 7.30pm on ITV1, and streams on ITVX.

Read more Emmerdale spoilers on our dedicated homepage

If you've been affected by any of the issues raised in this story, organisations including Refuge (www.refuge.org.uk), New Beginnings Peer Support (www.newbeginningspeersupport.com) and Women's Aid (www.womensaid.org.uk) can provide further support and information. 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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