The story of abuse that made the former Spice Girl return to live with her mother

by

Charlotte Gallagher

Melanie Brown made millions with the Spice Girls, but a few years ago, after leaving an abusive marriage, she was left with practically nothing. She left California, returned home to Leeds and lived at her mother’s house.

The 48-year-old singer claims that although she is “totally in favor of girl power”, she found herself in a “powerless” situation following the abuse. Brown managed to buy her own house again, something she thought would “never be possible”.

The decision to return home came as the Spice Girls wowed the UK on their sold-out stadium tour in 2019.

Although the shows were profitable, Brown’s earnings were being spent on legal fees and payments to her ex-husband Stephen Belafonte, whom she accuses of abuse.

Brown told the BBC: “I wasn’t just emotionally and physically abused, there was also financial abuse. I didn’t realize I didn’t have as much money as I thought. So I literally had to swallow my pride and live with my mother.”

She added: “My mom was the type who would say, ‘Oh, you left him now, it’s okay.’ But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Obviously, any situation is better than being with your abuser, but when you get out of that kind of abusive situation, it’s like starting all over again. You have to learn to trust people. You have to learn to trust yourself. “

Belafonte, who is a film producer, has repeatedly denied the allegations made by the singer. They reached a private settlement out of court in 2017, and the divorce was finalized a year later.

As part of the agreement, Brown had to pay Belafonte a lump sum of US$350,000 (approximately R$1.7 million) plus US$5,000 (approximately R$24,850) per month in child support for their daughter, Madison.

The Spice Girls released huge hits such as ‘Wannabe’, ‘Say You’ll Be There’ and ‘Viva Forever’ – Getty Images

The star, who has been open about her life after the abuse described in her book, Brutally Honest, says being back in Leeds has “definitely” helped her get back on her feet.

“My mum is one of seven, so I’m surrounded by friends, family, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces – the whole package. Leeds is beautiful, it’s so green and so down to earth, and the people, I find them more welcoming .”

Brown announced on Instagram in February that after working “very hard” for more than five years, she was finally able to buy her own home.

“I’ve been looking at houses from time to time over the last few years, knowing I didn’t have the money to buy them,” he told the BBC. But I put my head down, worked and lived economically, and that’s why I was able to buy my own house.”

“Living frugal” for Mel has meant starting to shop on a budget, something she doesn’t plan on giving up any time soon.

“I still love shopping at Aldi and Lidl [supermercados baratos do Reino Unido]Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever stop doing this. I’m still a Leeds girl!”

‘I AM THE VOICE OF OTHER SURVIVORS’

In 2018, Mel became a patron of Women’s Aid, and campaigning for survivors of domestic violence is now a significant part of her life.

“I raise awareness and talk about abuse and what I went through,” she said.

“I am the voice for all the other survivors who don’t have a voice, who can’t be heard, who can’t express their point of view – especially when it comes to trying to change the justice system and implement more laws to support people who they are leaving an abusive situation.”

During her last marriage, Brown said she only felt safe when she was away from home at work.

She believes employers should help victims in the workplace and be “fully aware of the telltale signs of abuse.”

The Spice Girls group – Getty Images

Meanwhile, this year marks the 30th anniversary of the Spice Girls’ first audition – and demand for them to return to the stage as a five-piece is still high.

Brown stated that the band “would be back tomorrow” if it were up to her and that “it’s just a matter of being able to organize it logistically.”

They are still friends and talk in a WhatsApp group – which Brown admits he leaves “a lot and then joins again”.

“I’m the funniest because I’m from the north,” she laughs. “Well, Mel C is really funny too. We’re all funny in different ways.”

The singer has been engaged to her partner Rory McPhee since 2022 and plans to get married at Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London.

Regarding rumors that Victoria Beckham will design the dress, Mel said: “Yes, she would love it” – but confessed that she is considering several options.

Either way, all of her bandmates will be present on the big day. As their song says, “friendship never ends.”

This text was originally published here.

Source: Folha

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