#YouAreNotAlone: Jamelia and Janet Street-Porter speak out about their experiences of domestic violence

Refuge has teamed up with ITV’s Loose Women to launch a powerful new domestic violence campaign.

 

On a special edition of Loose Women, panelists Jamelia and Janet relived their personal experiences of domestic violence to launch the You Are Not Alone campaign.

 

(L-R) Kaye Adams, Coleen Nolan, Sandra Horley, Jamelia, Janet Street-Porter Visibly moved, Jamelia confessed that over ten years on: “It is still the hardest thing to talk about” and said: “The thing with domestic abuse is it’s something you never get over. You can come to terms with it and forgive but the scars will always remain. For me, the best thing I could ever have done was to share my story – the best thing I could do was let other women know that they are not alone because that exactly how I felt. I felt as if no one would understand, no one would get it. I couldn’t tell anyone I felt so embarrassed.”

Asked by Kaye Adams why she didn’t tell anyone at the time about her abuse, she said: “I think there are a multitude of factors, one I was young, two, it didn’t happen until a year into the relationship and I was with him for four years and by that time I was in love and that was my reason. I absolutely loved him and I believed he loved me.”

Asked by Kaye Adams what kind of abuse Jamelia experienced, she said: “You also have to understand that this was whilst I was enjoying a career and I would be on Top Of The Pops one minute and then I would be going home and getting punched in the face. I am sorry if that’s a bit shocking but that was my reality. It is very difficult to say aloud. There are many women who have that reality who have this public life, this public performance and how embarrassing is it, I’m an intelligent, strong, woman and I know right from wrong.”

Asked by Coleen whether she was embarrassed about letting people know what she was going through, Jamelia said: “Absolutely. How can I go and say to someone that this is happening to me and I am accepting this because it is a choice.”

Agreeing with Jamelia, Janet said: “You accept it as normal and a day later they are acting like nothing has happened. That is the hallmark of abuse and what I would call psychological, extreme bullying, you would say to them the next day ‘why did you do that’ and they’d say ‘do what?’, I’ve had a lot of experience of men saying what did I do? It’s all your fault, they have got inside your head and it’s your fault because you’re difficult to live with, you’re too intelligent, you’re a workaholic.”

Asked by Kaye what Janet told herself during this period, Janet said: “You’ve chosen someone who is very difficult and they’re like a project and you’re so arrogant that you are going to change them but you can’t change them and you are absolutely entrapped by them. I was in this situation where the police were called, now looking back on it, I can’t believe it happened to me, it’s like a black period of my life and I don’t know what happened. I can’t explain it. I agree completely with Jamelia you are embarrassed to tell anyone. I left my own house at one stage, I moved out of my own house.”

Sandra Horley and JameliaJamelia commented: “The embarrassment causes you to isolate yourself and that’s a great environment for them to continue to control you. I stopped talking to my family, I stopped being around them not in a way that we were in an argument or anything just so I kept myself to him, he became my whole world, everything. For me it was whatever I can do to keep him happy, whatever I can do to stop getting hit. I was absolutely convinced that as long as I’m good I won’t get hit. That was it. It’s ridiculous now but at the time…”

On what made her leave the relationship, Jamelia said: “For me it is when my daughter was four weeks old and he hit me when I was breast feeding her and it was at that point that I realised that being in a relationship is a choice and I am choosing this and I am going to continue to choose this on behalf of my child. Do I want this to be her reality? As scared as I was, I was completely fearful of being killed and I thought I’d much rather leave and risk him killing me, than stay with him and have my daughter watch him slowly kill me anyway.

Appearing on the show, Chief Executive of Refuge, Sandra Horley CBE said: “Domestic violence has been around for centuries. One woman in three is physically abused or abused domestically it’s a major social problem. It’s a crime. Domestic violence is a choice a man makes and he alone is responsible. He’s responsible for the abuse and he’s responsible for changing his behaviour.”

 

 Photos by Ken McKay/ITV/REX