Mel B 'won't stop breaking the silence' around domestic abuse

Mel B is ‘incredibly proud’ of being part of a project shining a light on violence towards women and abusive relationships.

The 45-year-old has worked with Women’s Aid on a harrowing new film depicting the realities of domestic violence, soundtracked and directed by composer Fabio d’Andrea.

In the film, titled Love Should Not Hurt, Mel is seen being brutally beaten by her partner in their home, before being seen as the perfect loved-up couple while in the company of friends and family.

Her partner is also seen spying on Mel, depicting the part coercive control can play in abuse.

At the end of the film, a bloodied and bruised Mel runs from the house to escape her abusive relationship.

Speaking about the project, the Spice Girl said: ‘I’m so incredibly proud to be part of this project which means so much to me because this is a collaboration of three things that are so important in my life – music, dance and a way to highlight the ever-increasing issue of violence towards women. It seems strange to say I am proud of showing something so brutal and disturbing but it is my mission to raise awareness of something so many women go through every day, every week, every month of their lives.  

‘This video is very real. Violence and abuse happen everywhere. And this performance represents the stories and the experiences of those women I have met, spoken to or heard about. It touches all of us.’

Mel has alleged that she was physically abused by her ex-husband Stephen Belafonte, allegations he has strenuously denied.

She said: ‘I have had my own experiences of abusive relationships but as patron of Women’s Aid I have spoken to so many other women, listened to what they have gone through and I know how very real the danger is to so many women out there and I’m not going to stop breaking the silence and then shame around this subject because it’s too much and we have to stand up and do something. 

‘This performance represents the stories and the experiences of those women I have met, spoken to or heard about. My heart breaks for every single woman and child who suffers from any form of domestic abuse, and while the film shows a range of abuse, I want to send a clear message that you don’t have to be hit to be abused. Coercive control is at the heart of domestic abuse – it is about power and control.’

Farah Nazeer, the chief executive at Women’s Aid, said that the organisation was ‘so grateful’ to Mel and Fabio for their commitment to the video.

Nazeer said: ‘It comes at a crucial time for us, following the domestic abuse act, which, finally after four years, has become law. Vital changes have been made, however, there are significant gaps. 

‘We will continue to campaign to ensure that all women regardless of their immigration status are protected from abuse, that refuges run by domestic abuse experts are properly funded, and that the family courts make judgements that put a child’s safety first. This video will raise world-wide awareness of domestic abuse and strengthen our campaigning work.’

British classical composer Fabio D’Andrea said: ‘Domestic violence exists in every section of society but we rarely hear about it. This music and this video aim to change that. This video performance represents the stories and the experiences of many, many women. It is very real, very raw. Violence and abuse happen everywhere.

‘Everyone involved in this project and the production of this project had their own experiences so this was hugely emotional for everyone. It’s heartbreaking in so many ways but we hope this video can be used as a force for good.’

According to Women’s Aid report A Perfect Storm, 61% of survivors living with the abuser said that the abuse had worsened and more than two-thirds said they felt they had no one to turn to during lockdown. 

Ten women and two children were killed by men in the first two weeks of the lockdown (between 23 March and 6 April) – a figure three times higher than the average in England and Wales of three women killed every two weeks (ONS 2020).  

Estimates published by WHO indicate that globally about 1 in 3 (30%) of women worldwide have been subjected to either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. 

Every member of the cast and crew working on the video had experience of knowing someone affected by domestic abuse, including one of Fabio’s producers whose assistant Laureline Garcia-Bertaux, was murdered by her boyfriend two years ago. 

Domestic abuse helpline

If you are in immediate danger call 999. If you cannot talk, dial 55 and the operator will respond.

For emotional support, you can contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247. Alternatively, for practical and emotional support, please contact Women’s Aid Live Chat 10am – 6pm seven days a week.

For free and confidential advice and support for women in London affected by abuse, you can call Solace on 0808 802 5565 or email [email protected].

Male victims of domestic abuse can call 01823 334244 to speak to ManKind, an initiative available for male victims of domestic abuse and domestic violence across the UK as well as their friends, family, neighbours, work colleagues and employers.

Alternatively, the Men’s Advice Line can be reached at 0808 8010327, or emailed at [email protected].

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