Spice Girl Melanie Brown stars in a shockingly powerful video highlighting the horror of domestic abuse for British composer Fabio D’Andrea’s new album 24. ‘Love Should Not Hurt (A Flat Minor)’ is released today ( Friday 14th May) here. Fabio D’Andrea’s video is made in collaboration with Women’s Aid Patron Melanie Brown and The Greatest Showman choreographer Ashley Wallen.
In the video Melanie performs a deeply moving choreographed piece that tells the story of the trauma experienced by a woman whose seemingly perfect relationship is in fact a living nightmare of violence, control and fear.
Inspired by the impact of lockdown on women living with abusive partner, the increase in homicides during the first weeks of the pandemic, and the real life stories of the many women she has come into contact with since writing about her own ten-year abusive marriage – in the Sunday Times best-selling book, Brutally Honest – Melanie was determined to highlight this issue to mark her continued commitment to Women’s Aid.
In keeping with the sense of isolation and fear of speaking out that are present in so many abusive relationships, no words are spoken in the video which is told solely through the medium of dance and music.
Melanie says: “This video is very real. Violence and abuse happens everywhere. And this performance represents the stories and the experiences of those women I have met, spoken to or heard about. It touches all of us.”
A short-film director in addition to acclaimed musician, Fabio directs this compelling piece. Fabio is using his art to shine a powerful light on pertinent social issues. The neo-classical pianist’s “24” album – the first ever classical video album consists of 24 original piano pieces by Fabio (one in every key), each accompanied by a video starring an actor or celebrity. He recently worked with Russell Tovey to highlight issues around fame and mental health.
Melanie’s routine was choreographed by Fabio’s collaborator, the renowned Ashley Wallen who has worked with Kylie Minogue and Mariah Carey. Wallen also choreographed The Greatest Showman, starring Hugh Jackman.
In recent months, actors Evan Rachel Wood, Christina Ricci and singer FKA Twigs have both spoken publicly about their experiences of abuse in a relationship. The video not only highlights violence but the tyranny of coercive control which in so many cases result in women being completely isolated from friends and family and left unable to access their own bank accounts.
Melanie’s own gruelling story of coercive control was previously highlighted in her memoir Brutally Honest. Despite being at the height of her fame with prime time shows from X Factor in the UK and America’s Got Talent in the US, she was experiencing severe trauma within her marriage. Melanie attempted suicide and continued to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome even in the years after her split from her former husband in 2017. Since the publication of her book, Melanie has become a vociferous campaigner for Women’s Aid and was invited to No 10 Downing Street to launch a report for the charity on economic abuse, with advisors for then Prime Minister Theresa May MP.
Last month, the World Health Organization reported that an estimated 641 million women had faced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner over the course of their lifetime. Another 95 million were subjected to sexual violence from a non-partner, meaning that 1 in 3 women face such treatment at least once in their lives. Over the past year, women around the world have had to stay at home with their potential abusers, with many feeling unable to seek help during lockdown.
Domestic abuse exists in every section of society and on average, one woman is killed every four days in the UK by a current or previous partner. Without the services provided by Women’s Aid, many more women could be at risk.
Melanie said, “I”m so incredibly proud to be part of this project which means so much to me because this is a collaboration of three things that are so important in my life. Music, dance and a way to highlight the ever increasing issue of violence towards women.
It seems strange to say I am proud of showing something so brutal and disturbing but it is my mission to raise awareness of something so many women go through every day, every week, every month of their lives.
I have had my own experiences of abusive relationships but as Patron of Women’s Aid I have spoken to so many other women, listened to what they have gone through and I know how very real the danger is to so many women out there and I’m not going to stop breaking the silence and then shame around this subject because it’s too much and we have to stand up and do something.
This performance represents the stories and the experiences of those women I have met, spoken to or heard about.
My heart breaks for every single woman and child who suffers from some form of domestic abuse. I want this to count for all victims of abuse. I want to help raise awareness, raise money and do anything I can to put a stop to this epidemic.”
Every member of the cast and crew working on the video had experience of knowing someone affected by domestic abuse, including one of Fabio’s producers whose assistant, Laureline Garcia-Bertaux, was murdered by her boyfriend two years ago. Fabio said,
“So much can be communicated via the arts that cannot be in other ways. We all hope this video can connect with as many people as possible.
Domestic violence exists in every section of society but we rarely hear about it. This music and this video aims to change that.
This video performance represents the stories and the experiences of many, many women. It is very real, very raw.
Violence and abuse happens everywhere. Everyone involved in this project and the production of this project had their own experiences so this was hugely emotional for everyone.
It’s heartbreaking in so many ways but we hope this video can be used as a force for good.”
Teresa Parker, Head of Communications for Women’s Aid, said:
“This video and classical song release is a powerful, emotional portrayal of domestic abuse, based on the many conversations that Melanie has had with survivors since becoming Patron of Women’s Aid two years ago. I’d like to thank Melanie, Fabio and everyone involved in this project for the passion and dedication that went into creating this video, I know that it will raise invaluable awareness of domestic abuse worldwide. The story told in the video is the reason why we desperately need domestic abuse services for women and children, survivors are very often running for their lives at the point when they try to access help.
Specialist services, such as those run by Women’s Aid nationally and the local services run by our members all around the country, truly help to save lives. We are asking everyone to share this important video, to help us raise awareness, and if you can consider donating to Women’s Aid or your local domestic abuse service to make sure that women fleeing abuse, like the woman that Melanie is playing in the video, are able to access the help and support that they urgently need. “