Mel B’s eldest daughter has admitted her stepfather Stephen Belafonte called her by her name while married to her mother.
Phoenix Brown said he would call her “ugly and retarded” and was “petrified” when he argued with his mother.
The 23-year-old spoke with the Daily Mail about the abuse she saw her mother endure and how Belafonte verbally abused her. Additionally, Brown opened up about how her life changed after her mother married the film producer following the birth of her sister, Angel, a daughter Mel B. had with actor Eddie Murphy.
“I had to stay in my room with the door closed. I wasn’t allowed to go in the fridge, but I had 30 minutes to pack my lunch box for school,” Brown said. “A lot of times in the morning he would take it out and eat my sandwiches, laugh at me and tell me to go to school.”
Brown also shared that Belafonte, unrelated to legendary actor Harry Belafonte, would call him names and how Belafonte had his dog put down.
“He used to tell me that I was ugly and retarded all the time. I had this beautiful Labrador named Lordy that we had since I was born. I loved it,” Brown said. “He made fun of me and told me I was ugly and retarded. Stephen picked it up one day and threw it across the garden into the pool – Lordy was old. He was terrified. I couldn’t speak. A few weeks later I came home from school and Stephen told me he had him put down.
Brown revealed that she had been silent about these things for so long and how her mother would have terrible arguments with Belafonte and leave her feeling useless.
“I’ve kept quiet about so many things,” Brown said. “My mother worked all the time, earning money for him – for the family. I knew she was having a terrible time; she kind of shrunk. They would have these awful fights in their room; I would stand outside petrified, feeling useless.
Brown shared that she grew up caring for her sisters, Angel and Madison, Stephen’s daughter and Melanie’s mother.
“But life went on. I took care of my sisters,” Brown said. “I also tried to take care of my mother, but I was a kid. It was a big secret. We were supposed to be a happy family. You go on and shut down your emotions. That’s how we do it.”
Brown now visits schools and shares her story with students about living with abuse.
“I can see in some kids’ eyes that they know exactly what I’m talking about,” Brown said. “You need to know it’s not your fault, and life can get better. Getting involved in Women’s Aid has helped me a lot. I wanted to have something to say. I now feel that I know who I am. I want to make my family proud, to have an impact.
Brown is now a contestant on ITV’s upcoming sports show, The Games, which will follow several celebrities indulging in a wide range of sports.
The 2022 Games kick off Monday at 9 p.m. on ITV.