Curse of Strictly could, this time, be a bless­ing

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - DR CIARA KELLY -

IDON’T watch Strictly Come Danc­ing — I’m more a Danc­ing with the Stars kinda girl. But even I am aware of the ‘Curse of Strictly’ — the al­legedly high pro­por­tion of celebri­ties who go on the show and end up in some kind of tryst with their dance part­ners — which can lead to the ru­ina­tion of re­la­tion­ships and rep­u­ta­tions. I’m pre­sum­ing the shared in­ten­sity of the ex­pe­ri­ence, the phys­i­cal close­ness and the mas­sive amount of time they spend to­gether cre­ates a par­tic­u­lar, if tran­sient, bond.

And this se­ries has al­ready had it’s vic­tims/vil­lains as co­me­dian, con­tes­tant Seann Walsh was pho­tographed dur­ing the week snog­ging his dance part­ner Katya Jones, whose hus­band also works on the show. So what? you might think, and I agree. The ever-chang­ing love lives of celebri­ties I’ve never heard of isn’t that in­ter­est­ing. How­ever, the re­sponse from Seann’s girl­friend, ac­tor Re­becca Humphries, I be­lieve is more thought pro­vok­ing.

It’s fair to say, I think, that it must have been hu­mil­i­at­ing for her to see pho­tos of her boyfriend kiss­ing some­one else on her birth­day while she sat at home. And she hit back on Twit­ter; say­ing his apol­ogy to the me­dia was in­cred­i­bly good con­sid­er­ing he hadn’t both­ered to apol­o­gise to her, and de­scrib­ing how he told her he was go­ing for one in­no­cent drink with Katya which Re­becca was clearly un­happy about. She said: “We spoke and I told him, not for the first time, that his ac­tions over the past three weeks had led me to be­lieve some­thing in­ap­pro­pri­ate was go­ing on. He ag­gres­sively, and re­peat­edly, called me a psy­cho/nuts/men­tal as he has done count­less times through­out our re­la­tion­ship when I’ve ques­tioned his in­ap­pro­pri­ate, hurt­ful be­hav­iour.”

And I think lots of women and in­deed men will recog­nise this be­hav­iour from their own re­la­tion­ships. This is called gaslight­ing — which means to ma­nip­u­late some­one by psy­cho­log­i­cal means into doubt­ing their own san­ity. Re­becca was clearly cor­rect in her sus­pi­cions that some­thing was go­ing on be­tween Sean and his dance part­ner. The pho­tos from only hours later show that. But his re­sponse rather than to ad­mit it and say “I’m sorry, it’s over be­tween us” or even to plain lie and say “No, it’s just work” was to dou­ble down and ac­cuse her in­stead of be­ing “a psy­cho”, “nuts”, “men­tal”. He not only lied about his cheat­ing be­hav­iour, he twisted it round into be­ing all in her head so she was now the prob­lem, not him. This is clas­sic emo­tional abuse, which is sadly quite com­mon. It’s ac­tu­ally your part­ner mak­ing a lie out of ev­ery­thing you know to be true. And it makes you doubt your­self and your own abil­ity to judge. It makes you ask your­self if you can ac­tu­ally trust your own in­ter­pre­ta­tion of a sit­u­a­tion even though you know in your heart you’re right about it. And it’s an at­tempt to re­place your cor­rect read of their mis­treat­ment of you — with the lie that they’re spin­ning — that you’re men­tally un­sta­ble. You’re in the right but they are twist­ing it so it looks like you’re in the wrong and, worse, you’re a mess.

When it hap­pens enough the per­son on the re­ceiv­ing end does start to

‘Be­ing ma­nip­u­lated in this way shouldn’t hap­pen in a healthy re­la­tion­ship’

ques­tion their own judg­ment; starts to won­der if they are mis­read­ing the sit­u­a­tion; is their part­ner right and are they are un­sta­ble? And so they stop ques­tion­ing their part­ner and start ques­tion­ing them­selves.

Re­becca Humphries went on to say: “Be­lieve in your­self and your in­stincts. It’s more than ly­ing. It’s con­trol­ling.” And she’s right. Ly­ing would be say­ing “I’m work­ing late”. Ad­mit­ting you’re go­ing for a drink but in­sist­ing it’s in­no­cent and she’s a psy­cho to think oth­er­wise is say­ing I have noth­ing to hide here; I’m above re­proach and you are a sad cow. It’s one of the ways that con­trol­ling and emo­tion­ally abusive part­ners lit­tle by lit­tle erode their vic­tim’s con­fi­dence and even their ac­tual mem­o­ries of events.

This abuse is all too com­mon and it’s cor­ro­sive. Be­ing ma­nip­u­lated in this way is some­thing that shouldn’t hap­pen in a healthy re­la­tion­ship. If it’s hap­pen­ing in yours you need to ask your­self why you are tol­er­at­ing it? We should all be­lieve in our in­stincts and our own judg­ment. If it feels like you’re be­ing mis­treated you prob­a­bly are. It looks to me like the Curse of Strictly may have done Re­becca Humphries a great favour.

@cia­rakel­ly­doc Ciara presents ‘Lunchtime Live’ on New­stalk, week­days from 12-2

Co­me­dian Seann Walsh was snapped kiss­ing his ‘Strictly’ dance part­ner Katya Jones (both above)

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