Melanie Brown (former Spice Girl, Mel B) has publicly opened up about her experience of an abusive and coercive relationship. In her recent book Brutally Honest, she detailed her experiences of physical, verbal and psychological abuse within her marriage to Stephen Belafonte, whom she divorced in 2016. She has since become a patron for Women’s Aid, and in March she delivered their report on the economics of abuse to 10 Downing Street.


In an interview with Cosmopolitan, Mel outlined how she felt a responsibility to speak about her experience of domestic abuse in order to aid other women in both recognising their abuse, and feeling empowered to speak out about their own experiences. She told Cosmopolitan she wanted her daughters to be “fully aware of what an abusive relationship is, because it’s not always necessarily physical”, and discussed the types of abuse that she experienced within her marriage: that included verbal, financial, physical abuse and coercion.

By highlighting her experience of different types of abuse, Mel’s voice contributes to an important discussion surrounding what constitutes domestic abuse and re-affirms the message that while domestic abuse may be physical, this is not necessarily the only form that it may take.

Mel has further discussed the long-term impact domestic abuse has had upon her life, and has outlined her experiences of PTSD and low-self esteem following her marriage. However, she has recognised the process of writing and speaking about her experiences, with the hope of aiding other women as ‘healing’ and as serving to remind her that the abuse was not her fault.

Melanie’s brave decision to tell her story reflects her personal strength and empowerment. Her book and patronage of Women’s Aid will help raise awareness of DVA in the sphere of public discussion and hopefully help other people in similarly abusive relationships recognize what they are experiencing and empower others feeling trapped to seek help.

Hopefully other survivors will be inspired to follow her lead and make their own voices heard, because this is such an important conversation we should all be having. We need to de-stigmatise domestic violence and abuse, just as mental health is now being spoken about openly, with more understanding and ease.

As members of Women’s Aid, SAFE shares their ethos of empowering women to heal from the trauma they have suffered, regain control, and move on with their lives.

We address prevention in the form of education regarding what constitutes a healthy relationship, and we deliver specialist trauma focused recovery work with survivors. SAFE believes that bookending crisis services with prevention and recovery work is essential to breaking the cycles and pattern of intergenerational abuse, and that as a society, we ALL have a responsibility to address this issue.