If you've been gaslit or cheated on Rebecca Humphries is worth listening to

Strictly star and comedian Seann Walsh’s ex-girlfriend walked away with dignity and power

Instant celebrity is a double-edged sword, even at the best of times.

The overnight fame that arrives when your partner of five years is caught publicly snogging his telly dancing partner – in an actual alley, and with all the restraint of a 16-year-old let loose from a boys’ boarding school – is the kind not even the most craven reality TV wannabe could hanker after.

So kudos to the actor and writer Rebecca Humphries, who chose not to curl up under the duvet until the tabloids decamped from her front door this week. Instead she responded with grace, power, poise, and more than a shot of clinical fury, after she found herself waking up to the worst kind of instant notoriety.

The background for the uninitiated: her partner Seann – or "Sean(n)" as she rather witheringly put it, in her statement on Twitter – Walsh, a comedian with self-proclaimed "dream curls", appeared in a video posted online with his Strictly Come Dancing partner, Katya Jones, in a clinch that suggests he does in fact actually think he is Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing. Jones is married to another Strictly dancer.


But enough about them, because, as Humphries has so powerfully demonstrated, this is not about them.

She issued a statement on Twitter that began, "My name is Rebecca Humphries and I am not a victim", and went on to note that both parties had apologised publicly, but not to her.

The statement that followed struck a blow for everyone who has ever been cheated on, gaslit, controlled, deceived, lied to or otherwise taken for a chump by someone they were supposed to have been in a loving relationship with.

She described how Walsh denied to her more than once there was anything ‘inappropriate’ going on. “He aggressively, and repeatedly, called me a psycho/nuts/mental. As he has done countless times throughout our relationship when I’ve questioned his inappropriate, hurtful behaviour,” she wrote.

It should be noted that, although Walsh and Jones have both apologised on Twitter for their actions, Walsh hasn't yet responded to Humphries's claims of inappropriate, hurtful behaviour, including her statement that he responded to her aggressively, or indulged in name-calling.

But if it’s true, what she describes is classic gaslighting behaviour.

Named after the 1938 stage play Gaslight, the term is used to denote one partner manipulating another into doubting their own sanity, by repeatedly questioning their perceptions, memory or interpretation of events.

Humphries went on to say that she was a “strong, capable person who is now free” and finished with a rallying cry for anyone who feels “worthless and trapped” to seek help: “Believe in yourself and your instincts. It’s more than lying. It’s controlling... in these situations those who hold power over you are insecure and fragile, and their need for control comes from a place of vulnerability.”

It was an expression of compassion and solidarity for people in controlling relationships, and an utter tour de force, right down to the sign-off, “I’m not sorry I took the cat though.”

Humphries has shown that finding yourself in this sort of relationship can happen to anyone, and that, with help and support, it is possible to walk away

It's easy to write this off as tittle-tattle from the set of Strictly, but sometimes a story rises out of the gossip pages and makes a difference in the real world. And Humphries's statement is one of those. It shines a rare light on the kind of controlling relationship that usually stays in the shadows; relationships in which one partner's concerns are diminished, played down, ignored or even ridiculed.

By taking control of the narrative (and the cat), Humphries has shown that finding yourself in this sort of relationship can happen to anyone, that it doesn’t automatically make you a victim, and that, with help and support, it is possible to walk away.

Unsurprisingly, her statement struck a chord on Twitter. “When I got out of a situation like this, I went & spent my savings on a beautiful ring – every time I look at it I remember my self worth. Best thing I ever did. From one redhead to another – he ain’t sh*t. #girlpower,” wrote one woman.

Another said she bought herself a Mulberry bag, “the weight of a small elephant”.

The BBC issued a statement saying that Walsh and Jones will dance on in the television show this weekend. Good for them. Because Rebecca Humphries has walked away from this with much more than the cat; she has walked away with dignity and power, and no Strictly crown can compete with that.