Leanne Battersby has had her fair share of heartache since she first came to Coronation Street but the past year has been particularly hard for her with Peter’s departure and the loss of husband-to-be Kal in a horrific fire.
None of that trouble could have prepared her for her most recent hurdle though, as adopted son Simon spins wildly out of control and starts taking his anger out on his mum in the most violent of ways.
“She’s at a complete loss of what to do” says Jane Danson, who plays Leanne. “Simon’s missing that male figure in his life and Leanne is worried about it. Kal’s gone and Peter came and went again in the blink of an eye, which also really set Simon back. She’s worried about the state of their relationship and whether he’ll ever stop his behaviour and see how damaging he’s being.”
Leanne has been heartbroken since the tearaway teen started lashing out, lying and verbally abusing her as he struggles to deal with his anger.
“All of it is painful for Leanne. He’s always been her little boy, her constant – ever since he came into her life, and now all of a sudden she’s the worst person in the world to him” Danson explains.
“He starts to call her ‘Leanne’ which is really, really hurtful to her. She can handle the physical bruises but the hatred in him towards her sometimes is really hard for her to take, especially when she’s only ever tried to do her best for him.”
This week the pair’s relationship hits an all time low when Simon swipes a bottle of vodka from the Bistro and gets drunk while having lunch with his friends. Leanne’s invited them round in an attempt to smooth things over with her son and is absolutely horrified when she sees how he’s repaid her.
“She’s absolutely fuming, she cannot believe he would do this to her. I think she’s humiliated and can’t believe he’s gone this far. She puts a stop to the party and is just too angry to even look at him” Danson says.
And when she gets her son home the situation escalates: “Leanne is too angry to listen to Simon as he tries to make excuses and blame other people. She knows he’s lying and that, because of the state of mind he’s in, he’s deliberately trying to be destructive and cause trouble for her” she explains.
“Because Leanne tries to stand up to him and claw back some control, Simon isn’t having any of it and screams at her that he’d rather be in care than living with her and pushes her. Leanne just doesn’t know what to do – she’s actually quite scared at that point, especially because he’s drunk.”
Seeing her son hit the bottle can’t be easy for the Bistro owner, who had her fair share of heartbreak watching his father struggle with alcoholism.
“Leanne probably thinks that he’s grown up with a father who constantly turns to the bottle whenever things get tough so Simon might have observed that behaviour” Danson says. “More than anything she is horrified that he’s managed to get his hands on the booze and she feels like he’s slipping through the net and she just can’t keep up with him.”
The pair’s frustrations erupt at home, as Simon pulls Leanne’s hair and she slaps back, sending him flying and causing him to cut his arm. The heartbroken mum is devastated to have hurt her child, and when he admits he can’t control his anger she can’t help but reach out to him.
“She’s really saddened by that, and scared by it too” Danson explains. “Leanne obviously really wants to help him, but it’s a vicious circle. Sometimes she’s just so happy when he’s nice to her and back to normal that she clings to it by rewarding him for it, giving him a hug or telling him he can have something he’s wanted for ages.”
Giving Simon what he wants is proving Leanne’s default policy, too. When Simon asks her to keep quiet about the physical altercation she agrees.
It’s not long before Zeedan spots a bruise on Leanne’s leg though, and when grandad Ken invites them round for dinner the pressure to reveal the truth is really mounting. Will Leanne go to the older and wiser Barlow seeking help?
“She’s living a bit of a nightmare at the minute and she doesn’t know what to do” says Danson.
“Every time he’s nasty or abusive he’s then nice again a bit later and she thinks they can sort it out. But she doesn’t have a support network to lean on so eventually she will probably have to consider some form of help. She doesn’t want to be defeated though.”
It seems as though Leanne’s ordeal is far from over. Will she sort Simon out before it’s too late?
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