Mel B helped Corrie bosses write Yasmeen’s horrifying storyline after marriage to 'abusive' Stephen Belafonte12/26/2020
MEL B has been secretly helping Coronation Street bosses write one of their biggest storylines of the year, The Sun on Sunday can reveal.
The Spice Girl was consulted behind the scenes as the coercive control plot between Geoff Metcalfe and wife Yasmeen played out over the past two years.
In an exclusive interview, Mel, 45, said she is proud to have helped create the scenes after telling the writers about the alleged abuse she received during her marriage and the post traumatic stress she still suffers.
Mel, now patron of domestic violence charity Women’s Aid, said: “I met the team at Corrie and talked them through what it is like to live with coercive control and PTSD. They were able to write parts of the script because of what I told them.
“It means a lot to me that what Yasmeen goes through in the show is true to life, because we know that because of the storyline lots of people living with abuse have reached out to get help. I like to think I helped shape the scripts.”
The hard-hitting plot is one of soap’s most talked-about in years. The plight of Yasmeen at the hands of her twisted husband also unfolded as domestic abuse surged because people were trapped in their homes with their abusers during the pandemic.
In the first three weeks of lockdown, 14 woman and two children were killed. But the abuse is not always physical and coercive control includes threats, humiliation and intimidation.
And on Christmas Day, millions of Coronation Street fans saw how victims continued to be affected after the abuse is over.
They saw Yasmeen, played by Shelley King, suffering an anxiety attack and slumping to the ground as she imagined Geoff standing before her even though he died trying to chase her on a rooftop.
It is a tale of mental trauma that Mel says she knows well. She claims that, after a whirlwind romance, film producer Stephen Belafonte began a decade-long campaign of abuse against her on their wedding night in 2007. She says the couple appeared to enjoy a Hollywood lifestyle.
Yet, behind closed doors, she says Belafonte, 45, subjected her to emotional abuse, branding her ugly, a slut, fat, stupid, a bitch, worthless, drunk and pathetic.
She alleges she suffered emotional and coercive abuse throughout the marriage. Belafonte allegedly recorded much of it as well as the couple having sex.
He claims the tapes — and the sex — were consensual. She began divorcing Belafonte in 2018 and their £10million fight played out in a Los Angeles court.
In August 2018, they reached a settlement which involved the abuse charges being dropped. But just like the character in Coronation Street, Mel revealed last year that she has post traumatic stress disorder, a condition which can cause disturbing flashbacks.
She even woke screaming from a nightmare, convinced Belafonte had chopped off her finger. Mel is known for her feisty personality and outspoken views but for a long time she struggled to talk about what had happened.
Mel said: “I remember when my autobiography Brutally Honest came out two years ago, I would be really overwhelmed and emotional after giving interviews. I hadn’t realised how traumatised I still was.
“I didn’t even realise for so many years that I was in a coercive relationship. It was only through doing my book that I began to fully understand the situation I had been living in for ten years. And I know I’m not the only one like that.
3It’s empowering to be able to open up and share something that happened to me, that I thought had only had happened to me, but actually happens to millions of women across the world. But it’s not easy. It is something so personal, something where you know that people might judge you. But I know that by speaking out I am helping others to recognise that what they are living with is domestic abuse and that is the most important thing.”
Corrie researchers spent two years working with Women’s Aid to get the story just right — and Mel was thrilled to be able to help the soap and millions of women.
She said: “Women’s Aid told me that they would be focusing on what life was like after an abusive relationship and asked if I could help tell the scriptwriters what happened to me and what it’s like now, even years on after the abuse.
“I jumped at the chance because I knew this subject — which has been ignored by so many for so long — would reach a huge audience through Coronation Street. You can tell how much research has gone into telling this story. It’s realistic and it isn’t easy to watch but it’s important and raising awareness can give women the courage to speak out. It might even save lives.
“Abuse is abuse and a lot of abusers use the same methods and techniques which I find horrifying. Everything that Women’s Aid has put into that script is based on real-life stories.”
Mel watched some of the harrowing episodes at home in Leeds, where she has relocated with her three children, including Belafonte’s daughter, Madison, nine. Mel said: “I didn’t cry when I watched the episodes. I thought how proud I am to play a part in how this story is being told.”
Mel has always loved the soap and in 1993, a year before joining the Spice Girls, appeared in it as Freshco’s worker Amy Nelson. Her career went from success to success.
But in her 2018 autobiography she said she was so damaged by the abuse she was snorting six lines of cocaine a day and tried to take her own life during a live X Factor show.
- To contact Women’s Aid visit www.womensaid.org.uk.
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