Mick and Katy's EastEnders story hauntingly captures how child abusers operate

It’s devastating to see Mick Carter in the state that he has in as childhood memories and traumas resurface in EastEnders, with the return of Katy Lewis to his life.

In a difficult to watch storyline, EastEnders has clearly done its research with the manipulative and coercive control of an abuser both who wants to get away with her crimes – and may also be in denial that she actually did anything wrong.

Danny Dyer is giving his performance of a lifetime as we see the agony etched in his face and feel the torment he is going through. Katy’s return to life has awoken memories he had sealed away – and with her, played captivatingly and hauntingly by Simone Lahbib, playing mind games and making Mick believe that their destructive relationship was all part of a fantasy, his mind is all over the place.

It stands to reason then that he is out of sorts and not letting anyone in, including wife Linda Carter (Kellie Bright). There is still a certain taboo in the minds of some about males being abused by females which makes it harder for men to speak out – something which charities like Survivors UK are keen to improve.

Right now, Mick is unable to speak out for a mixture of reasons – he actually was in love with Katy, having been groomed and he is now not sure what even happened and if he imagined it.

Mick was a vulnerable victim for Katy to latch onto – and perhaps driven by her own ego to be someone’s hero – she overstepped the mark. Shirley (Linda Henry) was never there for Mick and his dad was not a good presence in his life either – Katy was someone who took Mick under her wing.

Mick had been forced by life circumstances to age before his years, which is why he was susceptible to the grooming of an adult and made to believe he was ready for that kind of relationship – but no matter what he had been through, he was a child needing protection who was instead exploited because of that very vulnerability.

This experience – both Katy’s grooming and abusing of him and her sudden disappearance – would have left Mick with unresolved Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), which will be a contributing factors to his panic and anxiety disorder.

And now, as he is angry with himself and pushing everyone away – lashing out and blaming mum Shirley and rejecting wife Linda – Mick is back into that familiar trap of only having Katy to turn to.

This is where it makes perfect sense that he is behaving in a way that sees him no longer showing care for his own wellbeing, his career or his marriage. He is back in that dark place and in a trauma that has yet to be fully addressed.

As a result, this is a storyline that isn’t just going to go away but that may change Mick forever.

A spokesperson for Survivors UK told Metro.co.uk: ‘When an abuser grooms a child and frames the abuse in a seeming context of care, attention and support, it is impossible for the child to disentangle what they are being told from what they feel.

‘An abuser often is able to exert disproportionate power over an adult survivor because of the terrifying vulnerability they re-awaken. Katy manipulated reality when Mick was a child and she can re-evoke that power dynamic on him as an adult. An abuser often is able to exert disproportionate power over an adult survivor because of the terrifying vulnerability they re-awaken.

‘Mick isn’t able to articulate how he is feeling, perhaps even to himself, and so these feelings will emerge in his behaviour, especially towards those close to him. It may be that he can feel a more straightforward anger towards Shirley, his mother, whose actions led him to be in care in the first place, rather than articulating his feelings towards Katy which are far more complex and ambivalent.

‘When a survivor isn’t able to express what has happened or how they are feeling, the effort of putting up a front, and the tortured isolation this gives rise to, often emerges in anger and we see this in Mick.’

It’s extraordinarily difficult to watch a character we know and love being put through but EastEnders is doing a realistic and sensitive job with this portrayal of situations which can and do happen to many men across the UK.

If even one person sees themselves in Mick and realises that they were abused and not the person to blame in the situation, it was a story well worth tackling.

You can find out more information and advice as well as seek support in confidence by visiting Survivors UK.

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