Mel B, the beloved Scary Spice, is reportedly a victim of domestic violence going back almost a decade at the hands of her now-estranged husband, Stephen Belafonte.
People reports that Belafonte’s alleged behavior followed a pattern, per Mel B’s court filing for a restraining order: “When something good would happen for me, he would beat me down to let me know that he was in charge.” These incidences allegedly occurred whenever she did something particularly successful that threatened the allegedly bitchass Belafonte’s masculinity and power: Performing at the Olympics, sharing the stage with Usher for X Factor.
“In domestic relationships, the abuser tries to gain and maintain power and control over victims,” Kelly Coyne, Safe Horizon’s vice president of domestic violence shelters, told People. “They often escalate behaviors to continue maintaining that power.”
“Whether it’s Mel B or anyone else, the tactics of an abuser include physical abuse, restraining them from things they want or have to do, making them feel not good enough,” National Coalition Against Domestic Violence Executive Director Ruth Glenn told People. “Many victims will tell you the physical abuse is nothing to the psychological abuse — feeling humiliated, shamed. It really results in many survivors feeling PTSD for the rest of their lives.”
Kristen Paruginog, the founder and managing advocate for Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence, noted that Mel B’s wealth and status don’t make her immune from the traumas of abuse.
“When it comes to women like her in the public eye, people think she is exempt from problems real people deal with, but the truth is one in three women will fall victim to domestic violence — there is no disclaimer that women with a high status are exempt,” Paruginog explained. “You have to imagine what she might be thinking as far as her children are concerned. She might think, ‘What if he kills me?’ Situations like what Mel B is describing happen daily.”
For the record, Belafonte denies everything.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.