Before Melanie “Mel B” Brown filed her divorce from estranged husband Stephen Belafonte amidst allegations he beat, threatened and exploited her throughout their nearly 10-year marriage, the couple’s relationship played out on reality TV.
In 2010, Mel B and Belafonte starred in the docu-series Mel B: It’s a Scary World — where they let the cameras in on their family life as they prepped Mel B’s solo career comeback.
The show only ran for one season on the Style Network, and though the 10-episodes showed plenty of romance between the two, there were tense times — many during their weekly sessions with their family therapist, Dr. Sophy.
Their “intimacy in the bedroom” was a hot topic of discussion early on, as the former Spice Girl told her doctor. “Because we’re so busy, I need to have time to feel ultra sexy with him. I can’t just go, ‘Here we go.’ I’m not holding out — I don’t have time for romance. It’s kind of hard juggling everything at once and romance sometimes takes a back seat.”
Belafonte remained persistent though, telling a horrified Mel B: “You have to remember, I’m like Rick James. It’s like I’m a super freak. I need to have certain sex. It’s kind of like taking my food and water away from me.”
When it’s suggested the two communicate more, he says: “We talk so much, sometimes my ears want to fall off.”
In the same episode, Belafonte is seen trying to romance the former Spice Girl as she talks on the phone. When she denies his advance, he storms off — calling her “boring.”
“A big, needy, bald baby,” she responds.
The couple attempt to have a date night later on — but she spends the majority of their dinner on the phone. Though she apologizes, he tells her, “I don’t really care. It’s ignoring, babe” — adding that it won’t be too hard to ignore her.
In a later episode, Mel B asks Belafonte if she still takes his breath away.
“You take my everything away,” he says. “You take my dignity, my self-respect. But you’re my everything, you know that.”
He then gets mad at Mel B when she attempts to set up two friends. “[You] put your nose in everybody’s business,” he says. “You’re actually pissing me off.”
While their tiffs remained light on-screen, off-screen was a different story.
In documents related to her temporary restraining order, Brown details the years of their troubled relationship, with the first alleged incident occurring five months into their marriage.
Brown claimed that before a TV appearance following her Dancing with the Stars finale in November 2007, Belafonte choked and slammed her against the floor while she got ready at home. She said he would abuse her whenever she saw career success in any way, noting that “when something good would happen for me, he would beat me down to let me know that he was in charge.”
In July 2012, Belafonte allegedly accused Brown of flirting with R&B singer Usher while she taped X Factor. Brown claimed Belafonte “flew into a rage,” punching her in the face and splitting her lip.
To cover up the injury when she returned to set, Brown says she told people who questioned her that she’d had an allergic reaction to shellfish. The crew then had a doctor give her an unnecessary steroid injection intended to treat an allergic reaction.
The couple’s marriage came under fire in late 2014 after the star was hospitalized for two days, then appeared three days later on the finale of the U.K. version of X Factor with what appeared to be bruises.
X Factor producer Simon Cowell attempted to procure legal and financial advice for Brown at the time, a source tells PEOPLE.
Brown tried to leave Belafonte several times, she said in the documents. But he allegedly threatened to destroy her career by releasing sex tapes and take her children.
“I have lived the past decade in fear that [Belafonte] would release intimate videos of me that would embarrass me and damage my reputation and my career,” she claims in the filing. “Once [he] made the threat of releasing videos, it became impossible to say no to him, giving him complete control.”
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In divorce papers filed on March 20, Brown listed their date of separation as Dec. 28.