Coronation Street star Shelley King has spoken out on her alter ego Yasmeen Metcalfe’s abuse at the hands of husband Geoff Metcalfe, which reaches terrifying new heights this week when he turns on her after a failed magic trick leaves him humiliated.
"Yasmeen stands in as Geoff's magician's assistant at a child's birthday party, but the 'woman crushed in a box' trick goes wrong and he blames her," says the Corrie actress. "Everyone is laughing but it's all in good humour, and initially Geoff sees the funny side and is laughing along.
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"What she hasn't accounted for is his ego has been dented and he doesn't like that he has been made to look stupid. When they are back at the house he sees a video has been posted and he starts berating her, pushing the phone into her face aggressively and asking how she would like to be filmed and made a fool of.
"He is displaying again that in moments of extremis, like when when she left crab shell in the food, he becomes uncontrolled and she has to calm him down. In both cases she feels she has done something wrong.
"Physically, Geoff is stronger than her and she feel threatened, and because of the continual way he has put her down and whittled away at her confidence she is prepared to accept that his behaviour is her fault."
After the party incident, on Wednesday 5th February Yasmeen agrees to make amends by rehearsing the trick again so they can perfect it, only for Geoff to lock her in the box and leave her in the house. The terrified wife is eventually found by son-in-law Tim Metcalfe, and starts to open up about her husband's treatment to her friends - but Geoff is quick to manipulate her into feeling sympathy for him by sharing tragic details of his past.
The slow burning storyline has struck a chord with audiences, and King explains her character has been deliberately targeted by controlling Geoff who has subtly preyed on her vulnerabilities, specifically not wanting to be lonely at her stage of life.
"She is like so many women of my age, she finds herself alone and with a charming man who walked into her life and began to take care of her. He knows how to talk to women, how to make them feel good. He was attracted to Audrey Roberts but she has too many people around her that might have stood in the way, Alya is all Yasmeen has and she is caught up in her own life. Yasmeen was the clever choice for Geoff.
"Many women have approached me and said they know someone, or they are someone, who has had this happen to them. Watching the storyline allows them some sort of recognition and they don't feel isolated and to talk about it. Hopefully it gives them a reference point and they don't feel alone any more.
"I met a survivor of coercive control whose experiences were not unlike Yasmeen's. She was enthralled by this charming and felt a necessity to make a marriage work, due to feelings of abandonment similar to Yasmeen after her ex's affair. Often, the protagonist of coercion chooses somebody who appears to be stronger than themselves because they are in need of protection, so there is a duality of dependency. Then they will try and take that strength away.
"This sort of thing drip feeds so gradually, you begin to understand how someone finds themselves in this situation without realising."
By Friday 7th February Yasmeen is giving serious thought to her future with Geoff as she embarks on the locals' coach trip to Blackpool (to mark Corrie's 10,000th episode). Will she finally cut ties from her manipulative man?
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