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'Mel B Is Changing What We Think About Domestic Abuse And How We Talk About It'

Brutally Honest, Mel B's explosive, tell-all book is a shocking account of domestic abuse. Here, Women's Aid's Chief Executive Katie Ghose tells us why it's so important that we hear her story...

For far too long, domestic abuse has been hidden behind closed doors, seen as a topic that is off limits. Since Mel B became a patron for Women’s Aid and published her memoir, Brutally Honest, she has brought domestic abuse from out of the shadows and given women everywhere the confidence to speak out about it.

By telling her story in collaboration with Women’s Aid, Mel B is changing what we think about domestic abuse and how we talk about. This will only help transform and save lives.

Survivors of domestic abuse often tell me that they never thought domestic abuse could happen to them, that they were strong and independent before they met their abusive partner. By speaking out about her experience of domestic abuse, despite being known across the globe as Scary Spice, Mel B is raising awareness across the world about how domestic abuse can happen to women from all walks of life.

An estimated 1.3 million women experienced domestic abuse last year alone. It is therefore highly likely that you or someone you know, like a family member or friend, is experiencing or has experienced it too.

WATCH: Mel B and biographer Louise Gannon in (v. candid) conversation about the making of Brutally Honest.

From our work with survivors we know that it doesn’t matter how strong or confident you are, whether you are successful, wealthy or famous. Any woman can find herself trapped within the invisible prison of an abuser’s controlling behaviour, and the effects can be devastating.

Coercive and controlling behaviour is at the heart of domestic abuse. It was criminalised in 2015, yet it is still a largely misunderstood and underreported crime. By talking about her personal experience, Mel B is letting women everywhere know what the warning signs of this dangerous, and yet often unrecognised, form of abuse are and why you should speak out about it.

From the constant checking up on you, blackmailing you to make you do what they want, the intimidating behaviour as well as the financial abuse which can make it seem impossible to leave, Melanie is providing real life examples that will help women recognise controlling behaviour in their own relationships. Her memoir helpfully includes 15 red flags to look at for which Melanie herself said would have helped her to reach out for help earlier had she had known them.

There is a difference between “just an unhealthy” relationship and an abusive one, and that is if you feel frightened of your partner. Mel B has spoken out about how the controlling behaviour made her feel trapped in the relationship. She describes in her memoir how she felt helpless when faced with the daily control and insults at the hands of her ex-partner; how she felt too scared to speak out to anyone about the abuse for fear that she wouldn’t be believed and the repercussions from her abuser of doing so.

No woman should face domestic abuse alone. By working with our patron Mel B, we want to spread the message that you are not alone and that there is help out there. Women’s Aid is always here to listen to you, believe you and support you.

You can join Women’s Aid and Mel B in shouting from the rooftops to raise awareness about domestic abuse by reading her 15 red flags and sharing them with your girlfriends so they know they will never be alone.

If you are worried that your partner, or that of a family or friend, is controlling or abusive, please call the Freephone 24 hour National Domestic Violence Helpline (run by Women’s Aid and Refuge) on 0808 2000 247 or visit womenaid.org.uk