Spice Girls' Mel B opens up about double life as she struggled with domestic abuse
Mel B from Spice Girls speaks about her experience with domestic abuse to ITV News Arts Editor Nina Nannar
Mel B opened up about having "two very different lives" as she struggled with domestic abuse while appearing to lead a "glammed up" lifestyle.
The former Spice Girls member, nicknamed Scary Spice for her fiery onstage persona, said domestic abuse can happen to anyone as she described how difficult it was for her to leave her 10-year ordeal.
Ex-husband Stephen Belafonte has repeatedly denied allegations that he was abusive to Mel B.
The singer spoke to ITV News ahead of the release of a short film on domestic violence, which she created with Women's Aid and British composer Fabio D'Andrea.
Speaking about the media response when she first spoke out about her experience, she said: "(The fierce persona) That is my onstage yelling girl power, you know, being a Spice Girl, which I absolutely love."
Mel B says Scary Spice was her onstage persona, but 'behind closed doors, it was a very different story'.
She added: "But behind closed doors, it was a very different story.
"It just goes to show it can happen to anybody. It doesn't matter what colour you are. Doesn't matter what you look like, what class you're from, you know, abuse can happen to anyone and everyone."
She also described what it was like living a double life: "I mean, I was doing America's Got Talent and then coming home to that.
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"So I'd be all glammed up sitting at the desk for eight, nine hours saying, 'Yes, no, you're great and not so great.' You know, being that person, which is me still, and then going home, taking off my makeup, sitting there, just experiencing horrendousness and the name calling, the humiliat- just awful.
"Two very different lives. But still me, same person."
Mel B explains that for many victims, leaving an abusive partner is not simple
Speaking about how difficult it is for many domestic abuse victims to just pack up and go, Mel B said: "When you are in that kind of relationship, it literally feels impossible to get out because you're isolated. Some women don't have access to their phones, even their finances - like in my situation.
"You are completely cut off from a regular normal world. And what becomes your normality is living in an abusive relationship with no way out."
She continued: "I kind of lived in my situation for 10 years. I was married for 10 years and I did find the strength to leave, but then I ended up going back for reasons that I don't really want to discuss right now.
"But it was just an impossible situation for me. There was a lot going on behind the scenes.
"And then when I finally left, it was when my father died. I finally had the courage to say, 'look, no more'."
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Speaking about the help she received from Women's Aid, she said: "At first, I was kind of a bit frightened because I'm like, actually, they believe my story.
"Because half of the time, you know, you're living in such fear that no one's going to believe you. And then there's the whole shame. And then there's a whole guilt factor."
'I didn't even realise how bad my situation was till I saw it on paper'
She explained how at one point, she had doubts about publishing her story because she realised how horrifying it really was.
She said: "As we went through the year and a half process of writing down my story, I didn't even realise how bad my situation was till I saw it on paper.
"So then it was the shock of do I even want to release this?
"And it was my daughter actually that said, 'You, you need to release this because it's not just your story. It's many other women's stories'."
In her book Brutally Honest, Mel B says she was beaten by former husband Stephen Belafonte. She is now a patron for charity Women's Aid, which helps domestic abuse victims.
Mel B's short film, which is told through dance and music, tells the story of a woman whose seemingly perfect relationship is in fact a living nightmare of violence, control and fear.
The woman, played by Mel B, is shown dancing at a party but then in private being beaten by her partner.
Some of the scenes in Mel B's short film are 'very, very shocking'
Mel said: "Some of the scenes are very, very shocking because I wanted to make it as realistic as possible - so it does reflect what women have gone through or are going through or if you know, somebody that's already been through it. So I wanted it to kind of reflect that.
"And so it is shocking and I'm even kind of shocked talking about it."
The film is inspired by the impact of lockdown on people living with abusive partners, the increase in homicides during the first weeks of the first lockdown and the real life stories of the many woman Mel B has spoken to.
The film will be released by Women's Aid on social media and on Mel B's social media accounts on Friday.
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Teresa Parker, a spokeswoman for Women's Aid, revealed that during lockdown, there have been reports of abusers spitting or coughing in victims' faces or blaming them if they catch Covid-19.
She added that many victims were less likely to want to make a phone call because their abusers were at home all the time.
She said: "So we were getting messages from women who were locked in their back, locked in their bathroom. They were locked in an area in their house, secretly messaging, trying to get support because they, they were too scared to make a phone call and they didn't think they were allowed to leave."
Where to get help if you are a victim of domestic abuse
Women's Aid's live chat service is open Mon-Fri 10am-4pm and Sat-Sun 10am-12pm.
Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline offers free support 24 hours a day to victims and those who are worried about their loved ones.
Safe Spaces are available in pharmacies across the UK, including Boots, Superdrug and Morrisons. Once inside, you will find specialist domestic abuse support information. Some Safe Spaces will respond to the Ask for ANI codeword.
NSPCC helpline offers advice and support for anyone with concerns about a child.