As the ‘Curse of Strictly takes another victim, and Strictly Come Dancing’s professional dancer Katya Jones is caught on camera in a passionate kiss with her dance partner Sean(n) Walsh,his girlfriend, actor Rebecca Humphries boldly declared today that she is not a victim.
Good on her! She’s taken back her power, and she’s moving forward.
But she clearly WAS – or felt – a victim inside her relationship.
In May this year, the man I once loved intensely didn’t even ring, didn’t even message to say ‘Happy Birthday’ despite loving messages around that date and the promise of a birthday in Paris. Instead I went to the gym with a friend. I had some texted flowers the following day. Yes, a text with some flowers on.
So to hear that Rebecca was left in on her birthday alone and that Sean(n) Walsh dropped her a message late at night that he wasn’t coming home to her with a birthday card, flowers, chocolate, bottle of wine, not going home to the woman he lived with, but going out for a drink instead, breaks my heart for her.
Sean(n) and Katya clearly had help with their apologetic statements, even if it was only from each other. Rebecca didn’t want the pity of strangers. The time she needed help was when she felt trapped in a relationship with a lying, controlling man who she feels aggressively and repeatedly called her names and put her down.
It’s a T-shirt I once wore, and he’s done her a massive favour by getting caught – it’s the spark that lit her fire.
But in a slightly random way, I made the following notes:
- I’m concerned that Rebecca distances herself from the ‘victim’ tag. Victims can be strong too, usually are. We shouldn’t be ashamed of being victims or of seeking help. Being a victim helped Rebecca find her voice. Being a victim helped me find my voice, made me determined to help raise awareness of adult grooming. The more we call out perpetrators, the more will be done to stop them.
- Not feeling strong is OK too. There are things my groomer did to me that I’m not strong enough to talk about and not strong enough to push through the court system (yet). We do what we can when we’re ready. Rebecca notes the incredible support of friends. Many abusers isolate their victims, deliberately. It often happens slowly and insidiously. Please don’t believe that quieter victims don’t deserve support. Many people walking out of, or escaping from, abusive relationships has more strength than most of us can imagine.
- Look. The gaslighting and mistreatment happened to a beautiful, successful woman. Love makes us vulnerable. That’s it’s beauty – and it’s beast. Victims don’t always walk around with black eyes. The outside World was undoubtedly looking in on their relationship and thinking ‘happy, successful glamour couple who have it all’.
- I feel obliged to note that we have all, unquestioningly, accepted Rebecca’s version of events. Katya and Sean(n) have been caught hot-lipped, and admitted as much. But whilst the further accusations of mistreatment in this statement must be believed and Rebecca supported – there’s nothing worse than disbelieving a victim – we must also allow Sean(n) a voice, in a way that doesn’t diminish Rebecca. My own abuser’s accusations of me (mostly that I’ve contacted and harassed his family and professional contacts, which is rubbish) have been frustrating in the extreme and make me want to scream. Ultimately only the two of them really know what’s gone on in a clearly unhappy relationship, and even then they’ll see it differently.
- Why are ‘we’ seemingly, publicly, angrier with Sean(n) than with Katya for their betrayal? Is it because Rebecca spoke out, reclaimed her power in an incredibly powerful way, or is it because believe that, as a man, he must be the instigator of the illicit kiss?
- Women are as capable as men of abusive or wrong behaviour. Whilst I sense that, more often, women come out on the receiving end of the kind of abuse that Rebecca describes, men have particular problems reporting due to old fashioned notions of manhood and ‘not being able to control their woman’. I don’t want to see abuse of women normalised. I don’t want women portrayed as weaker. We are not.
- Before you copy Rebecca’s action as an ordinary, not in the public eye, person, learn from my mistakes – be aware that currently harassment laws are against you if you call out a perpetrator. It doesn’t matter how true anything you say in public may be, the bar for harassment is really, really low – only that the victim feels harassed. It’s frustratingly unfair, but take my word for it, leaving your abuser behind is far, far harder if you’re fighting a stressful legal battle with them.
- And on that note, be aware that abusers love to turn things around and present themselves as the victim. Let’s watch this space
Katya’s husband, Neil Jones, released an apparently naked photo onto Twitter this morning. Badly ‘shopped’, but naked nonetheless. Maybe the publicity will earn him a place on Strictly WITH a partner next season – if Rebecca has found her freedom, let’s hope he, too, get’s something back. Although Katya’s public declaration of love, so notably missing from Seann Walsh’s, may be just that thing. Sometimes we need to nearly lose something we love to realise just what we have.
Sign the petition to help make adult grooming illegal in the UK: https://www.change.org/p/creating-fake-online-profiles-for-sex-is-fraud-make-catfishing-a-crime