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Mel B Says She'll 'Never Be Fully' Healed from Abusive Relationship But Is 'on the Right Path' (Exclusive)

The Spice Girls star recently released an expanded edition of her 2018 memoir 'Brutally Honest'

<p>Malachi Banales</p> Mel B

Malachi Banales

Mel B

Melanie “Mel B” Brown knows that healing from domestic violence isn’t always linear. It’s why she still suffers from PTSD, six years after she left her abusive husband — and why she’s recently put out an expanded version of her memoir, Brutally Honest, one that chronicles all she’s endured since readers last heard from her.

“I think it’s so important to honestly say what happens when you leave abuse, because it’s not as easy as some people may think,” Brown tells PEOPLE. “For example, my mother would say, ‘What’s wrong with you? You’re fine now. You’ve left him.’ And I’d be going, ‘Yeah, but now I’ve got to pick up the pieces and I’ve got to deal with the shame and the guilt, and I want to protect my kids.’ And I don’t want to block out what happened because I did that for a little bit, and you get PTSD.”

The Spice Girls star, 48, first released Brutally Honest in 2018, which chronicled her allegedly abusive 10-year marriage to producer Stephen Belafonte.

Over three new chapters, Brown reveals just how much she’s still affected by her trauma — but also focuses on happier moments, like the Spice Girls’ 2019 UK tour and falling in love with her fiancé Rory McPhee. She’s also included a list of signs to look out for when it comes to domestic violence.

She calls the writing of the new chapters “quite cathartic,” though reliving dark days wasn’t always easy. Brown writes that she contemplated suicide in 2020, and struggled financially after returning home to Leeds after the Spice Girls tour wrapped.

<p>Ray Burmiston/Avalon/Getty</p> The Spice Girls in 1997.

Ray Burmiston/Avalon/Getty

The Spice Girls in 1997.

“Trauma from abuse never goes. So you need to be able to recognize it, be kind to yourself and just quiet that voice, which you can do,” she says. “You have to just basically say to yourself, ‘It’s not your fault and he was the problem, not you.’ And you just have to heal yourself. And that’s going to be a lifetime, a long journey for me.”

Since publishing Brutally Honest, Brown has leaned into her work as a patron of Women’s Aid, a domestic violence survivors’ charity in the UK. She was even appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her advocacy in 2022.

<p>Malachi Banales</p>

Malachi Banales

“I got my MBE not for being a Spice Girl. I mean, Prince William was like, ‘Where’s everybody else?’ I’m like, ‘No, it’s just me!’ And he’s like, ‘Oh yeah, because of your advocating and campaigning for domestic abuse and trying to stop it and changing laws.’ He was like, ‘That’s brilliant,’” she recalls. “I just want to educate young kids [on] what a healthy relationship looks like. I want to educate the justice system and just make it a safer place and a safer world for us women and our kids.”

Brown’s three children (Phoenix, 25, Angel, 16, and Madison, 12) have been on the journey with her, and Phoenix has even begun doing similar work, going into schools and speaking with kids. The singer says that the “best thing” she does with her kids “is talk,” taking care to open up a dialogue about abuse and what it looks like.

Then there’s the support of McPhee, a hairstylist she first met years ago through her cousin. Her relationship with McPhee, a longtime family friend, blossomed during the pandemic, and he proposed in October 2022 after visiting her late father’s grave to ask his permission.

“He’s helped a lot. He’s proven to me that there are good people out there because when you come from having been with a monster, you think, ‘Well, I can’t trust myself and I certainly can’t trust anybody else,’” she says. “Your guard is completely up. But I’ve known Rory for a long time. He actually knew my dad before he passed, so there was already that built-in safety and trust and respect.”

As she looks ahead to her wedding planning (and some top-secret Spice Girls news, which she teases is coming “very soon”), Brown is able to approach her life now with a new perspective.

“I’ll never be fully there,” she says, “but I am on the right path, and I have the tools to kind of get myself through those dark times."

If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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