‘I felt worthless, you feel helpless’: Mel B reveals she is ‘facing her fears’ after being in an ‘horrible and abusive’ marriage for 10 years by joining Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test
Mel B has opened up about how she joined endurance show Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test to ‘face her fears’ after leaving her ‘abusive’ marriage.
The Spice Girl, 47, said that she was looking for a fresh start after leaving the relationship and filing for divorce from her ex-husband Stephen Belafonte in 2017.
During the season premiere of the programme on Wednesday, Mel B said she had been living in fear and hoped the course would help her regain her own power.
Struggles: Mel B has opened up about how she joined endurance show Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test to ‘face her fears’ after leaving her ‘abusive’ marriage
Stephen has always vehemently denied he was abusive during the marriage.
During a confessional, Mel said: ‘I ended up being in a very horrible abusive 10 year relationship. I felt worthless, you feel helpless. I’m facing huge fears.
Explaining her hopes for the series, she continued: ‘I’m just going to bring out that inner person that I hope isn’t dead and gone.’
During the first dive challenge, Mel stepped up as she followed instructions perfectly and entered the water correctly.
Split: The Spice Girl, 47, said that she was looking for a fresh start after leaving the relationship and filing for divorce from her ex-husband Stephen Belafonte in 2017. Stephen has always vehemently denied he was abusive (pictured 2016)
She was later tasked with attacking an instructor protected by heavy padding in an aggression test. Mel fought hard and then was able to turn it off on command.
The singer split from Stephen, 47, in 2017 and claimed he had emotionally and physically abused her during their 10-year marriage – which he denies.
Traumatic: Mel broke down during the challenge
Backward dive: Mel stepped up during the first dive challenge as she followed instructions perfectly and entered the water correctly
Mel said while some of the memories are so painful her mind has blocked them out, she still suffers from terrible flashbacks that jolt her awake in the night, drenching her in ‘shame, sweat and fear’.
She told The Sun: ‘Nearly five years on I still wake up in the early hours with terrifying fragments of sounds and images flitting into my brain, things I’ve tried to block float to the surface — things that can still make me feel drenched in shame, sweat and fear.’
The Loose Women star talked about how she turned to drugs during her marriage ‘to block out the torment and guilt’.
‘I’d been through so much and sunk so low that my self-esteem was zero, being isolated from my family, I had no one to confide in so I turned to drink and drugs to dull my pain,’ she said.
Struggles: She underwent a gruelling interview
Aggression test: She was later tasked with attacking an instructor protected by heavy padding in an aggression test. Mel fought hard and then was able to turn it off on command
‘I was completely out of it when I was videoed having sex – one of the most humiliating things that I endured in my abusive relationship.’
Mel said how during the marriage she continued ‘to put on a front as if everything is OK’ in the hope if she pretended, they would ‘enjoy a normal, loving relationship’.
And it was when writing her book Brutally Honest, Mel discovered ‘to my horror what my daughter Phoenix, 22, had witnessed’.
The Spice Girl star said she finds it ‘very disturbing’ she has ‘no clear memory’ of an incident her daughter described to her ghost writer, due to her PTSD blocking out the trauma.
Powerful: The singer starred in a short film exploring domestic violence through dance
She added: ‘Knowing what my daughter saw kills me’.
Mel and Stephen secretly married in 2007 and split in 2017.
They share one daughter, Madison Brown Belafonte, 11 – and Mel has two children from previous relationships: Phoenix Chi Gulzar, 23, who she shares with ex husband Jimmy Gulzar and Angel Iris Murphy Brown, 15, who she co-parents with Eddie Murphy.
The mother-of-three claimed she was financially abused during her marriage to Stephen, having no access to her own money.
Mel admitted while she is renowned for being ‘confident and outspoken as Scary Spice’ – and despite feeling ‘at home’ on stage, she believed many may have viewed her as the last person to feel ‘totally trapped and alone’ in her marriage.
She previously told The Sun: ‘Paralysed with fear, I woke up trembling from another nightmare. I couldn’t breathe until I knew that I was safe and my girls were safe. This happened for years after I left my abusive partner – but this is the reality of surviving an abusive relationship.
Turbulent relationship: Mel and Stephen secretly married in 2007 and split in 2017 (pictured in 2012)
‘I wanted to literally physically scrape myself clean of my abusive ex-partner, but it’s harder to scrape away the memories and start to repair the emotional damage.
‘Flashbacks from living in a coercively controlling relationship are constant, as is the need to find order in your own life. I found myself writing lists and reordering my clothes and belongings.’
Last month, Mel was awarded an MBE for her work with domestic violence charity Women’s Aid to help other people who suffered in abusive relationships.
The Spice Girl was named in the New Year Honours for services to charitable causes and vulnerable women, and she declared: ‘This, for me, was all about them’.
Mel said receiving the accolade made her ‘incredibly proud’ as she remembered all the women she had met during her work and to her late father.
Mel’s father Martin died from cancer following an eight-year illness in 2017.
The singer said that after telling her mother the news of her MBE, she had driven to his graveside to share the news with him.
Last year, the singer starred in a short film exploring domestic violence through dance.
Heartbreaking: And it was when writing her book Brutally Honest, Mel discovered ‘to my horror what my daughter Phoenix, 23, had witnessed’ (pictured last month)
The video, which was directed by and featured the music of composer Fabio D’Andrea, saw her recreating a woman’s escape from an abusive relationship and was inspired by the stories she heard while a Women’s Aid patron.
The dance was choreographed by Ashley Wallen, who has worked with stars including Kylie Minogue and Mariah Carey, and on The Greatest Showman film starring Hugh Jackman.
The star, originally from Leeds, won five Brit Awards and scored nine UK number one singles alongside her fellow Spice Girls – Victoria Beckham, Emma Bunton, Melanie Chisholm and Geri Horner.
After the group went on hiatus in 2000, she established herself as a TV personality and talent show judge, with appearances on The X Factor, Celebrity Juice and America’s Got Talent.
If you have been affected by this story, call 0808 2000 247 or click here
Bold: Mel, known as Scary Spice, rose to fame as a member of the Spice Girls in the nineties (pictured on stage at The BRIT Awards in 1997)
What is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events.
People with PTSD often suffer nightmares and flashbacks to the traumatic event and can experience insomnia and an inability to concentrate.
Symptoms are often severe enough to have a serious impact on the person’s day-to-day life, and can emerge straight after the traumatic event or years later.
PTSD is thought to affect about 1 in every 3 people who have a traumatic experience, and was first documented in the First World War in soldiers with shell shock.
People who are worried they have PTSD should visit their GP, who could recommend a course of psychotherapy or anti-depressants.
Combat Stress operate a 24-hour helpline for veterans, which can be reached on 0800 138 1619.