Mel B was encouraged to leave her abusive husband by Simon Cowell

I’m surprised that there’s not more interest in Mel B’s divorce, but I guess people are as disturbed as I am about it and just don’t know what to say except that it’s awful and they feel for her. There’s a case of horrific spousal abuse in my small town and when people talk about it I hear “why did she keep going back to him?” way too often, as if the woman was somehow at fault for being beaten nearly to death. That happened when the woman in my town tried to leave her abuser and people still blame her for not leaving sooner. In Mel’s case, as in the case of so many abused women, she was manipulated and feared for her life and her children’s lives. There were plenty of people who tried to help Mel get out, including Simon Cowell, who worked with her on The X Factor and America’s Got Talent. Apparently Simon tried to convince Mel that Stephen was a bad person and that she should leave him, and this was instrumental in helping her leave. It also sounds like her father’s death was a catalyst for her and helped her pull the plug and escape her abuser. Here’s TMZ’s story on this:

Sources connected to Mel tell TMZ about the time Mel moved out of the family home earlier this year. Simon has seen plenty of Belafonte over the years, from ‘X Factor’ to ‘AGT.’

We’re told Simon and others felt something was seriously wrong but Mel B would never own up … she would make excuses for various injuries and no one was sure what was real.

Simon stepped up and told her Belafonte was “a bad guy” and “bad news” and gave her the confidence to leave him.

The big thing for Mel B … she has left him before, but she came back … until now, and we’re told she gives some of the credit to Simon.

[From TMZ]

Good for Simon. I question a lot of things that guy does but he was surely genuinely concerned about Mel and wanted to help her. There were stories that Stephen was banned from the set of X Factor as his jealousy and rage was affecting Mel’s work. TMZ has a related story about how Mel B’s makeup artist is willing to testify that he covered up Mel’s injuries for years, and also witnessed Stephen being verbally and emotionally abusive to Mel and the children.

When Mel took out a temporary restraining order against Stephen she requested full legal and physical custody of their daughter, Madison. This was in contrast to her request for joint custody in her divorce papers. TMZ reports that Mel is thankfully going to go for full custody of their one child together daughter Madison, 5, and will try to block Stephen from seeing her other two daughters, Angel, 10, and Phoenix, 18. Stephen has recorded Instagram videos calling Angel, who is Mel’s daughter with Eddie Murphy, his daughter, and it’s clear he spends a lot of time with her. He also told the Daily Mirror that his daughters are “the only things that matter to me.” TMZ reports that Stephen is seeking joint custody of Madison and visitation rights with Angel, Eddie Murphy’s daughter. I hope Mel gets full custody of Madison and that Stephen is only granted monitored visits with Madison, if that.



photos credit: FameFlynet, WENN and Getty

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58 Responses to “Mel B was encouraged to leave her abusive husband by Simon Cowell”

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  1. Birdix says:

    I’m interested in this story but have trouble reading about it as a close friend is in an abusive relationship and can’t leave. It’s so hard to draw the line between supporting and enabling.

    • BangersandMash says:

      It’s such a difficult and sorrowful story.
      I understand the apprehension you have.
      I am just hoping that your friend does what Mel B did. Which is blow up his spot.
      After reading what had happened at North Park Elementary School, my heart broke.

      We need to support each other, and to look out for each other when the other is blind too any given situation. Sometimes when you’re in something, it’s hard to get out… hell sometimes you stay over the due date and when you do leave, you’re too afraid to talk or you wanna keep it “classy” and not let other people “gossip”. Other times… we NEED to know, cause it’s a matter of physical safety for the person involved and OTHERS too.

      This “Belafonte” and many others like him NEED prison… They NEED NEED NEED prison.
      May the Government rob him of HIS TIME. May he waste away his time.

    • detritus says:

      Just being there for her is huge Birdix. Telling her its not normal and she deserves better, but that your understand how scary and hard it can be, that she isn’t alone, that’s important. Telling her you support her no matter what she chooses, that’s giving her more support to leave her partner, who will not offer her the same compassion.

      Being there for her is showing her hope and a tiny glimpse of what her life could look like. It hurts so bad, but you may be able to help her at the moment she needs it if you can hold on. Good luck, you are being a good friend.

      • Birdix says:

        Thank you Detritus, BangersandMash, and Dystopian. I’m trying, I love her and want easier days for her. Have let her know that I (and her other friends) will catch her when she’s ready to leap. And yes, despite this Dystopian you’re correct about his control. It’s a heartbreaker.

    • DystopianDance says:

      The gradual erosion leaves the victim almost unaware of the abuse- the victim has been deluded into feeling all the blame. If a person identifies as “confused”, it’s likely abuse is happening. Often a victim is so shredded that the power to organize leaving has evaporated. A victim goes back because the abuser has emotional, custodial, or financial control- and often all three.

  2. Shelley says:

    This is messy and her family indicated that there was something seriously wrong a few years ago after he beat her. I think the lack of interest in this is exhaustion from current president. Second, folks have been burned by videos and celebrities before. I’m guessing Mel was open to experimenting early in marriage and somehow Stephen changed and it was too late to backtrack. It’s really bad for these kids. Does Eddie Murphy has any contact the with the daughter? I knew he did not want her initially.
    On another note, another thread suggested that Simon and Mel had a relationship too but seemed that it occurred during the Spice Girls days, no shocker there

    • boredblond says:

      Since he had a record of abuse before they were together (not from Gossip sites–the LA times printed it) there was no ‘change’. It isn’t ‘blaming the victim’ to wonder why past deeds are ignored, or why a woman of means and support chooses to return for years.

      • mermaid says:

        Hey Boredblond. Perhaps instead of wondering why she stayed, consider why he did such horrendous things to her.

      • mermaid says:

        Hey Boredblond. Perhaps instead of wondering why she stayed, consider why he did such horrendous things to her, and her kids.

      • doofus says:

        except that you are blaming the victim. you may not see it, but asking why she got involved in the first place (or stayed after being abused) is BLAMING HER. no woman, no matter how bad her “man-picker” is, does NOT deserve to be beaten.

        if you’ve never been in or witnessed an abusive relationship, you don’t know how it is…at first…they are loving and charming and sweet and DO NOT show that side of themselves. even if they know about previous abuse, most women think “oh, *I* won’t stand for that…and he’s changed anyway, he never seems that way with me…maybe his ex was abusive too” (another tactic abusers use). and then it’s getting yelled at and the woman thinks, “well, I yelled, too” and it just escalates from there until you have black eye and you are isolated from friends and family.

        Please, PLEASE, just don’t ask what you did.

      • BJ says:

        The same reason people get married to cheaters.

      • AnnaKist says:

        You’re right, mermaid. There was a spate of men killing their partners or ex-partners last year, here in Australia. At one point, it was at the rate of one per week. They were brutal and utterly horrifying. Even worse is when the male partner kills a child or children to “teach her a lesson”. Every single time, people asked the same questions: “Why did she stay?”, “Why didn’t she leave?”, “Why did she keep going back to him?” The questions people should ask is, “Why does es he do that to his partner and children?”, “Why can’t the vicious bas*ard keep his fists to himself and his anger under control?” “Why has the law allowed him to keep doing this to his family?” A big reason why women stay is because it’s sometimes far more dangerous to leave. Statistics show that in an overwhelming number of cases, the woman had left, but this only served to anger him further, to the point where he hunted his partner down and killed her, the children or all of them.

        We need to support each other, and the first thing victims of family abuse and sexual assault ask, if they reveal the abuse, is to be believed. They don’t need people questioning why they didn’t do this or that – they’ve already asked themselves the same questions. They don’t need people talking about them behind their backs and making vile comments such as, “She must really have pissed him off.”

        Here’s a great resource with a wealth of information on this subject. The wonderful Rosie Batty was our Australian of the Year 2015, because of her courage after her nightmare:

      • Miffy says:

        Victim blaming stems from a sense of self-preservation. ‘What did the victim do wrong?’ is really another way of saying ‘Surely this doesn’t happen to every day people such as myself and if it does what did that person do wrong that I can avoid?’ It’s fear.

        No one wants to believe that there are people out there who just so happen to be rapists or domestic abusers and we all want to believe we’re smarter than them and the people they commit atrocities against. But we’re not. It can happen to anyone. Spousal abuse is like water torture, one tiny little drip at a time til someone is taking a closed fist to the face and thinking that that’s how life is and they somehow deserve it. The amount of emotional manipulation that goes into a toxic relationship is mind boggling.

        So to the victim blamers understand what you really are. You’re scared. And you should be. This can happen to anyone. But remember where to direct your criticism.

      • doofus says:

        interesting analysis, Miffy, and I think that’s a big part of it.

      • Ankhel says:

        Kind of agree with Boredblond, actually. No, there’s no excuse for being abusive. Belafonte sounds like a monster, and he deserves jail.

        However, Mel still sounds like an asshole. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be her family, with those men she keeps picking. She loves bad boys. Her first husband beat her sister up. Eddie Murphy rejected his own child with Mel. And then she picked a guy with a known history of violence to women. She had two young daughters when they met! How traumatized are they now? Do we women truly have no responsibility when it comes to protecting our families, no responsibility for learning anything ever?

      • Shannon says:

        I take it you have never been in an abusive relationship. So I understand your statement because I had the same question until I ended up in an abusive relationship. When kids are involved, it makes it even harder, plus abusers will mess with your head big time. She’s the victim here. This story breaks my heart.

      • Ankhel says:

        My first real boyfriend hit me when I was “being difficult” towards the end of our relationship. He was an attractive, restless guy with a motorcycle, a suspiciously large number of exes and a troubled family. Cliche, I know! His own mother warned me against him! Some guys are more trouble than they are worth, even if they are oh so charismatic. I fell in love with his clone the next year. Resisting his flirting was hard, but I managed. Afterwards, I dated a guy who seemed different. I didn’t know him well, and it turned out he had a temper. That was a deal breaker by then, I didn’t wait to see if he’d hit me too! Now I’m terribly happy with my partner of twelve years, who was my friend first. He’s sweet and shy, couldn’t be more different from them. ( Well, apart from tattoos and a love of rock and metal. Type never dies completely. 😂 )

        Thing is, anyone can have issues with their picker. Anyone can lust for bad boys, and bring danger and sorrow to themselves – and their families. Those relationships get harder to leave the longer they last, too. But, at some point we must grow up, be honest and fight our worst impulses. Not just for ourselves, but to spare our loved ones too. There’s no excuse for a fully grown woman, with young children, who blindly continues to let her subconscious urges guide her into terrible relationships. She could see a therapist and work on her underlying issues. She could listen to advice, maybe let her closest people fix her some dates. I do hope Mel will try to learn now. She could be happy. Her daughters could be safe, and she could be a better role model for them. If not, there will be more bad men like Belafonte. Saying this is NOT victim shaming.

        Phew, that was long. Probably preachy as well. Sorry! I feel warmly for this, can you tell?

      • Otaku Fairy says:

        @BoredBlond and Ankhel: Whether you realize it or not though, shaming victims for picking abusive men does not encourage women as a group to come forward about abusive men. It just creates a stigma where abused women are looked down on and women who are in those situations don’t come forward because they don’t want to be shamed by strangers for their situation. There have been many discussions on twitter, jezebel, and other sites where abuse victims have actually said that the typical narrative around abused women (or abused people in general) is one of the reasons why they weren’t quick to expose someone’s behavior.

      • Ankhel says:

        @otaku fairy
        If you call it victim shaming to say that a woman who’s picked bad men for 20+years could benefit from therapy and listening to her friends and family… Then there’s no middle ground for us.

      • Llc says:

        So she had it coming? This is an ignorant and horrifically tone deaf comment. Abusive men don’t show that side of themselves early in a relationship. It’s gradual. By the time a woman clearly sees what is happening, she is in deep. Often, she’s lost control of her finances, has children and pets who are threatened, and may have quit or lost her job as a result of the relationship mess. When she tries to leave, her abuser goes ballistic, and she has very valid reasons to be afraid for herself, her children, her family and friends, and her pets. Did you happen to notice what happened in San Bernardino recently? She left. She is dead as is one child, while another child is in serious condition in the hospital. Women who leave are 70% more likely to be killed by their abuser than those who stay. Domestic violence laws are garbage in many jurisdictions. And to make maters worse, the abused are often judged for BEING ABUSED. Educate yorself. You too Ankhel. Ignorance feeds this problem.

    • Crumpet says:

      Wow. That’s some powerful president we have there. Marriages breaking up…. Perhaps the cancer rate will rise as well.

      I’m so glad she is getting out. I hope she seeks therapy for herself and the girls. My ex is a real manipulator – creepy as all get out, manipulators are.

      • doofus says:

        I think you mis-interpreted what Shelley meant. she wasn’t blaming Baby Fists for the marriage breaking up, just for people not being as focused on Mel B’s divorce because of the sh*tshow that we have going on in DC.

      • Otaku Fairy says:

        @Crumpet: Actually, I think I’ve heard a few stories about marriages and relationships being ended because women found out that their boyfriends or husbands voted Trump. I call that self-respect.

    • LAK says:

      For all his shortcomings, Simon is an extraordinarily good friend to his girlfriends, platonic or otherwise. He helps them and stands by them if their situations become messy.

    • Craven says:

      Mel says that Eddie isnt an engaged dad but she does try to encourage him to be. In her reality show, there was an episode in which Eddies assistant called at the last minute to invite Angel to attend a Shrek red carpet premiere. The episode is about Mel trying to get to the red carpet with the kids in time for Eddie to walk the carpet with Angel. They didnt make it in time but they did take photos.

  3. Aiobhan Targaryen says:

    Not to make this too much about Simon because that is not what the key point should be about any stories like this but, I like how supportive Simon is to the people he cares about. This does not excuse his horrible behavior while on American Idol, but I like the fact that he is not a horrible jerk all around.

    I have not been posting in threads about Mel B. for two reasons 1) I don’t know what to say but type useless words of support to a woman who will never read or hear them 2) I watched my mother go through an abusive relationship with my father and it brings up feelings I would rather forget. This is a real situation that you cannot snark at, question, belittle or try to undermine without real consequences to anyone who reads this site. Not to say that the other posts that I regularly go into are not “serious” but there are just some things that should not be argued over and this is one of them for me.

    • holly hobby says:

      I think if he likes you he will support you. When Fantasia had trouble paying her mortgage a few years ago, he paid it for her.

      Yeah I side eyed him knocking up his friend’s wife but other than that he is a stand up guy.

  4. Clare says:

    What is the chance of him having visitation with Angel, since he is not the biological or adoptive father? I feel like this is a minefield,d because obviously not being biologically or legally related does not mean one can’t be a true father etc…can someone shed light on this in terms of the law/precedent?

    • Digital Unicorn (aKa Betti) says:

      Am not sure but I have read a couple of reports that he was abusive to the children as well. I think it was her former hairdresser who made those claims. Demanding shared custody of Angel means more money and room for manipulating Mel. This guy will not go away and he will continue to bully her and her family for as long as he can get away with it.

      I want to know what his deal with the former nanny is, who is also involved In this scam. From the receipts Mel has released they’ve both been in it to scam as much money from her as possible.

    • Nicole says:

      I read this on TMZ: in CA there is apparently a law that allows stepparents visitation if they have a meaningful relationship with the child. However I assume the abuse allegations will block this. Considering chances are the older children probably saw him hit her at least once right? I would think that a judge would interview the children before allowing visitations. ALso not in his favor is the fact that he already kidnapped the kids with that nanny once and went out of the country. This all looks bad to a court.

    • Crumpet says:


  5. rosalee says:

    The situation with Mel B tends to bring back unwelcome memories for many women who have experienced physical or emotional abuse. After more than 30 years and thousands of dollars of therapy I still get that tight sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I read stories similar to mine.

  6. Veronica says:

    My sister was a very abusive relationship for awhile, and I’d occasionally hear people asking, “Why did she stay with them?” I eventually came to the realization that the only reply that gave people insight into the reality was: “If he treated her that badly when she did what he wanted, how much do you think she feared what he would do if she didn’t?”

    That forces them to stop thinking of it as a relationship and see it for what it really is: a violent criminal and a victim. People don’t like to really think about the reality that a hefty amount of abuse victims undergo fatal attacks *after* they leave.

    • Zapp Brannigan says:

      “If he treated her that badly when she did what he wanted, how much do you think she feared what he would do if she didn’t?”

      This sentence just put a knot of anxiety into my stomach, it needs to be heard by anyone with questions as to why someone stays.

      I hope your sister has a happier life now.

    • Capepopsie says:

      Exactly! This is the answer to ” Why didn’t She leave earlier”.
      People just don’t understand the constant fear someone like her is living in. It’s not that simple. There are SO many aspects you don’t even know about unless you’ve been there yourself.

  7. Doodle says:

    I dated a guy who was emotionally abusive for 15 months. At the 3 month mark I tried – seriously tried – to break up with him, and he just would not go away. By that time he had done so much gaslighting that I didn’t know up from down, and was questioning every thought I had. He wasn’t a smart guy, but could twist things so that what seemed logical when he wasn’t around was completely illogical the moment he started talking.

    It pisses me off to no end when people ask “why didn’t she leave?” I didn’t have kids. I didn’t share a home with him. We lived in different cities. And the guy WOULD NOT LET ME BREAK UP WITH HIM. It wasn’t until he basically held me hostage in his apartment for three hours by hiding my clothing, forcing me to hide naked in his bedroom while his parents hung out in the kitchen, and forcing me to almost lose my job… and then stand behind my car so I couldn’t drive to work unless I wanted to drive over him, that he realized he messed up big enough and I could point a finger and say that, right there – that’s why I’m breaking up with you. And the break up finally stuck. Only 15 months, and not being physically abused, but it took me years to get over the damage that guy did to me. So if I hear victim blaming I’m pretty much ready to scream.

    Not to make this about me… but OMG this is a subject that drives me absolutely f-ing nuts. DO NOT blame the victim. Unless you’ve been through it you have no idea how upside down your world is, and how difficult it is to get out. And even when you’re out, you’re not out.

    • Capepopsie says:

      + 1000 ❤

    • doofus says:

      doodle, I’m so sorry that that a-hole did that to you, but so happy you got out. stay strong.

    • TheOtherOne says:

      Agreed. Doodle, you are loved! You are beautiful! You are strong!

    • eggyweggs says:

      I had a similar experience that lasted about as long, Doodle. I’m happy you got out, happy I got out. You’re a strong person; I know you will continue to take back your power from this turdburglar. <3

      • Doodle says:

        Thanks girls! That was over fifteen years ago, I’m over it now. I’m married to a great guy and have fabulous kids. But I still get really angry when I hear people victim shame, it conjures up all those memories really fast.

        Eggy, I’m so glad you got out. We are strong! The experience makes us more empathetic and fighters for other women.

    • SilverUnicorn says:


      Been there too. Hugs ❤❤

  8. minx says:

    Every picture I see of them–she looks fearful and upset, and he looks evil and mean.

  9. serena says:

    Thank you to keep covering this story, it is disturbing but I think it’s something we all shoul read and know about. I doub it, since he doesn’t seem very involved with her life, but will Eddie Murphie have something to say about Belafonte seeking visitation rights with Angel?

  10. Adrien says:

    They say don’t judge a book by its cover but the first time I saw Stephen I knew he is a bad person. He isn’t ugly but he looks like a movie villain. I hope he gets nothing and I hope that Mel has a solid prenup.

  11. Who ARE These People? says:

    I’ll comment too so you know that we care.

    Simon’s role underscores how valuable men – friends, relatives, colleagues – can be in helping women survive and flee abusive situations. They offer a healthier model of a male relationship, much-needed validation when self-esteem has been shattered, and maybe a sense of protection (real or perceived) that can help the woman cross over to a safe place. Men, please step up.

  12. QQ says:

    I think this is just so painful and ugly to read, to see old pics of her recontextualized IDK I always click with great apprehension of what else will come out TBH so That’s the hesitation to me but we need to speak of these things, so the Monsters have no corner to turn for cover, we need to empower women to discuss this fairly common awful issue and acknowledge that this ain’t got no type

    NOW THEN THAT SAID: AMAZING for Simon to get involved and help BUT im not about to give a man the credit for this woman’s INCREDIBLY Brave escape with her life and her girls, while still looking her absolute best after a painful loss, no ALL Credit To Melanie Janine Brown Herself

  13. Tinkerbell says:

    When we were younger one of my sister’s was involved with a crappy abusive guy. It was shocking to see her not get out of it. I felt like my sassy sister changed before my eyes. He then started to threaten family members. Finally, my step-brother got involved. The crappy abusive guy realized he would suffer serious consequences if he kept it up.

  14. jugil1 says:

    She is so brave to finally get out. Yes, if Simon was a resource of support for Mel, kudos to him. But SHE is the one that made the decision to leave. She is stronger than she knows. I hope she & her kids have a strong support system & know they have countless unknown others that have their backs.

    I stayed in a marriage for far too long (emotional abuse -not physical) for fear of leaving. It’s the hardest thing to do, to make the decision to leave. But looking back now, 8 years later, it’s the BEST decision I ever made. I know Mel will feel the same someday……hopefully soon.

  15. BJ says:

    Yesterday a man went to a school and killed his estranged wife,himself and an innocent child,This is why some women don’t leave they are afraid they will be killed.That teacher’s relative said she was in fear,but she never went to the police.

    • Brittney B says:

      Exactly. Toxic masculinity takes lives every day… when will our society start treating it as a serious threat?

      (I guess our society just picked a leader who embodies it, so I’m pretty hopeless at this point.)

  16. Disco Dancer says:

    I too was with a verbally abusive guy some years ago and now that I think back to it- even sexually abusive. I don’t like to think about the sexual experiences much as I mentally don’t want to face the fact that what is an intimate moment between a couple, was not exactly a positive experience for me at that time. When I think about, why I who is a strong person and others see me as strong, would be so weak to be in a relationship with this asshole for 18months. All I can say in my defense is that I was young and didn’t have as much experiences with romantic relationship and was still upset about the after-effects of a breakup from my first love about a year or so earlier.

    Thankfully, I’m in a happy and respectful relationship now and I thank my lucky stars often that I didn’t end up marrying that abusive ex boyfriend! Don’t know how long it would’ve taken me and any kid/s and pet/s to leave that situation with our physical safety intact.

    That bastard has married and I have heard that he beats his wife and that his mother now has to live with them, so that she can guard against any violent confrontation between her son and his wife.

  17. Jeanette says:

    Mel B is usually a really muscular toned lady, and in some of her latest and pre Madison pictures she looked scarily skinny! Not shaming her, but I think its sometimes telling when a woman’s figure changes from healthy/muscular to just plain can literally see the stress playing out.

    • Suki says:

      Yes, normally it’s the stress of the relationship. I know when I’m stressed, I completely lose my appetite.

  18. Delilah says:

    It was very therapeutic to read this being someone who learned she is in an abusive relationship. Before he puts his hands on you you are reduced by his constant gas lighting techniques created to make you doubt your own perceptions. You can stare at a white wall and your abuser will make you think you’re crazy for not clearly agreeing the wall is actually gray. And there is no one to contradict both your perceptions and you can’t rationalize the benefit in the abuser trying to convince you of a blatant lie. It’s crazy. You don’t know you’re being manipulated because this person purports to love you and it doesn’t make sense that they have mal intent toward you. I am learning b/c I have been abused most of my life I have a blind spot when it comes to abuse b/c it’a my normal.