I’ve taken back my power and my life

As her ex­plo­sive mem­oir is pub­lished, Spice Girl Melanie Brown re­veals to HANNAH STEPHEN­SON that she is still re­cov­er­ing from her 10-year mar­riage and she isn’t look­ing for love

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AL­WAYS the out­spo­ken mem­ber of The Spice Girls, Melanie Brown has once again been thrown into the spot­light amid sen­sa­tional head­lines chart­ing her re­la­tion­ship with her ex-hus­band Stephen Be­la­fonte, sex­ual en­coun­ters with both men and women, co­caine and al­co­hol abuse and at­tempted sui­cide.

The lat­est sto­ries have been sparked by her mem­oir, Bru­tally Hon­est, which has al­ready at­tracted huge pub­lic­ity with her claims that her ex-hus­band Stephen Be­la­fonte phys­i­cally and men­tally abused her dur­ing their 10-year mar­riage – claims he strongly de­nies – and her at­tempted sui­cide in 2014, when she downed tablets.

To­day, her clear skin, swept-back short hair and toned fig­ure in­di­cate that she is re­cov­er­ing, hav­ing di­vorced TV pro­ducer Stephen last year, but she says the heal­ing is an on­go­ing process.

“I’ve taken my power back and my life back. I get up in the morn­ing and I de­cide my life now, which was not the case for 10 years,” she de­clares.

Melanie and Stephen, both 43, share cus­tody of their seven-yearold daugh­ter Madi­son and she also has two other daugh­ters, Phoenix, 19, from her mar­riage to Spice Girls back­ing dancer

Jimmy Gulzar, and

An­gel, 11, from her re­la­tion­ship with co­me­dian Ed­die Mur­phy.

To­day, Melanie says she still has ther­apy and has just taken a course in EMDR (Eye Move­ment De­sen­si­ti­sa­tion and Re­pro­cess­ing), a tech­nique used to re­lieve psy­cho­log­i­cal stress.

“I get lots of flash­backs. A friend of mine came in and gave me a hug the other day and I said, ‘Don’t touch me!’ be­cause I was so used to be­ing launched at.

“Be­cause of ther­apy, be­cause I’m talk­ing about it, be­cause I’ve writ­ten about it so in­tensely in my book, that in it­self is very ther­a­peu­tic for me.”

Melanie has had surgery since the re­la­tion­ship ended with Stephen, show­ing me the scar from hav­ing his name cut from the tat­too down her ribcage which used to say, ‘Stephen, till death do us part, you own my heart’.

She says: “I wanted to get rid. I never wanted to get the tat­too in the first place, he made me do it.

“I wanted the scar to be big and ugly as a re­minder. I have it (the skin) in a lit­tle jar in my house, which my friend still thinks is very strange. I will burn that piece of flesh or bury it when I am ready.”

“The skin has healed. I am still heal­ing. I still have a long way to go,” she writes.

It was the death of her fa­ther in 2017 which was the cat­a­lyst for her to di­vorce her hus­band, she says.

“When my dad was on his deathbed, it brought my whole fam­ily back to­gether,” she says now.

Her fel­low Spice Girls have also been hugely sup­port­ive since her rev­e­la­tions, she adds.

“I made them all read the book and they were like, ‘Why? What hap­pened? Why weren’t we there for you?’.

“Emma couldn’t stop cry­ing the other day. She said she felt so bad that I went through all that and she didn’t even re­alise. But I was re­ally good at hid­ing it.”

She’s cer­tainly not look­ing for love at the mo­ment and says her ex­pe­ri­ence with Stephen has made her hes­i­tant about fu­ture re­la­tion­ships.

“I’m not dat­ing any­body. I’m quite happy just rais­ing my kids and work­ing and get­ting my life in order and that’s it.

“I’m not look­ing for a re­la­tion­ship and I think that’s healthy for me to be in that mind­set. I’m not chas­ing

some­thing that’s a re­bound. I’m still very much in my own heal­ing process. I’m dam­aged, clearly.

“I feel vul­ner­a­ble and I’m OK with that. I should feel a mess some days when I just want to break down and cry be­cause what I’ve been through is hor­ren­dous.

“There are days when I don’t want to get out of bed but what I make my­self do is have a bit of a cry, I’ll med­i­tate and then I’ll watch com­edy and force my­self to laugh.

“I’m one of the lucky ones – I es­caped.”

Fam­ily ther­apy has helped, she re­flects.

“You have to talk with your kids and com­mu­ni­cate. For me, it was re­ally im­por­tant that An­gel has a re­ally healthy re­la­tion­ship with her fa­ther, Ed­die Mur­phy.

“When I left, I was able to re­in­stall that. She’s at Ed­die’s right now. She’s spend­ing good, qual­ity time with him.”

Melanie, who lives in

West Hol­ly­wood, still calls Ed­die the love of her life.

“I’ve a large amount of fond­ness to­wards him, I al­ways will have.

“We have a beau­ti­ful daugh­ter to­gether. He’s now in a very happy re­la­tion­ship, he’s on his se­cond baby with his lovely lady, and it’s nice that me and Ed­die can com­mu­ni­cate for our daugh­ter’s sake.

“I did send the chap­ter about him to him and he said, ‘I didn’t know you felt that strongly about me.’

“It was like two ships that sailed and missed each other.

“You can’t re­gret what hap­pens to

you in your life. I al­ways like to take things, how­ever bad or trau­matic, and some­how turn them into a pos­i­tive and learn from it.

“I’m not em­bar­rassed to say that we had an amaz­ing and beau­ti­ful re­la­tion­ship and I was, and still am, madly in love with him and what he showed me in life and showed me that a re­la­tion­ship can be built on trust and re­spect and love.

“We go to school plays, not to­gether, but we are there. We do chat, but mainly about An­gel.

“I keep it to our daugh­ter out of re­spect for his re­la­tion­ship.”

Melanie has a busy year ahead with The Spice Girls tour and has also be­come a pa­tron of Women’s Aid. She re­cently vis­ited a women’s refuge in her home town of Leeds.

“I was asked to be a pa­tron for Women’s Aid, which was very val­i­dat­ing and self-as­sur­ing.

“Their cam­paign is about help­ing women in sit­u­a­tions that I’ve been in and to give them the tools to know it’s wrong.”

■ Bru­tally Hon­est (left) by Melanie Brown with Louise Gan­non is pub­lished by Quadrille, priced £17.99.

■ Stephen Be­la­fonte, who has pre­vi­ously strongly de­nied the al­le­ga­tions made against him by Melanie Brown, told the Press As­so­ci­a­tion: “Ev­ery­thing that she said in that book, I can dis­prove.” He said he did not want to give a quick re­sponse to us but would be will­ing to have a more com­plete con­ver­sa­tion when he could present his own ev­i­dence.

Melanie Brown, above, and on stage with her fel­low Spice Girls at the 1997 Brit Awards, left

Melanie Brown and then hus­band Stephen Be­la­fonte in 2008

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