Where is the line drawn between miscommunication and abuse? Celebrity Big Brother is seemingly undecided while the public remains divided.
Headlines have flooded media outlets this week branding Roxanne Pallett a ‘manipulative liar’ who dramatised an affectionate play-fight with Ryan Thomas into a ‘boxer like’ fight where he ‘repeatedly punched his fists into her ribs’.
Roxanne, 35, asked to speak to producers, saying in the diary room: ‘‘I’m just a little bit in shock. I went from being upset to angry now because a boy has punched me repeatedly, unprovoked, completely deliberate. He actually punched me like a boxer would punch a bag. ‘We weren’t play-fighting. It wasn’t banter, it wasn’t a joke. There was no exchange. I can’t believe you’re letting somebody stay that’s done that. It’s not okay.’ Ryan received a formal warning for the incident, but interestingly was not removed from the house though CBB did tell another housemate they had ‘investigated’ the incident.
Unlike the housemates the public has the advantage of being able to replay the scene and even slow-down the contact. Eagle eyed viewers commented that Roxanne actually holds the other side of her body to where he swings, while many others even claim that Ryan doesn’t seem to make contact at all.
Housemates of Big Brother were then told two very different accounts of the incident by Ryan and Roxanne. With seemingly the entire population siding with Ryan, many viewers even taking to Twitter to admit that the following scenes in the next episode left them in tears. Ryan was visibility upset and confused by the accusations and furiously denied the behaviour before apologising for any unintentional pain inflicted on his former co-star.
When he was talking about what happened, the soap star broke down and admitted that he felt, “Really, really really bad. I just don’t get it.”
Then he said, “My life is in tatters,” after the punching incident.
However, he did admit that he had a lot of support from his friends and family and just wanted to be back with them.
He said that they have “got my back” and added all he wants is to “see them all”.
Later on, in the live feed, Ryan screamed out: “F***ing get me out of here now!”
He continued: “I feel emotionally absolutely battered. It came from nowhere, absolutely nowhere.”
On Saturday night the CBB house even played the shouting crowds outside chanting to “Get Roxy OUT!” ultimately making Ryan break down in tears.
Roxanne’s a known, compulsive liar. Ryan wouldn’t harm a fly. Horrible, attention seeking little liar. Goes from being upset & in pain to dancing & drinking – to going bed, crying she can’t sleep in the same room as Ryan, to worrying about being nominated?You be the judge #CBB
— Danny Miller (@DannyBMiller) August 30, 2018
It isn’t only avid-viewers of the series that have shared their opinion on the alleged assault, former chief crown prosecutor Nazir Afzal tweeted: “I don’t engage with #CBB but I can’t let what just happened pass. ‘What #Roxanne did in alleging domestic violence (which we saw for ourselves) & persuading producers to warn #Ryan set back immense work done by DV charities in raising awareness. ‘She clearly has issues & needs help.”
Can’t believe cbb aren’t doing anything about @ryanjamesthomas assaulting Roxanne any man that lays a hand on a women should be in prison fucking disgusting how he’s getting away with it he punched her in the stomach it’s just wrong #CBBUK #ryanthomas
— Richard Clarke (@dickie890304) August 31, 2018
— The Sun (@TheSun) September 1, 2018
However, not all domestic violence charities are siding with the public, instead some are aiming to educate viewers on why Roxanne may have felt threatened following Ryan’s actions.
Women’s Aid have backed Roxanne, saying that if you have suffered abuse in the past, unintentional incidents can be scary and trigger PTSD.
Sian Hawkins, Head of Campaigns and Public Affairs at Women’s Aid, told The Sun Online: “Play fighting may not seem serious but if you have been in an abusive relationship it can seem frightening and even trigger memories of the abuse.
“Domestic abuse means you don’t feel safe in your home environment, and as a woman who has previously spoken about being in a violent and abusive relationship, Roxanne clearly did not feel comfortable going to sleep in the same room as someone who had physically hurt her, even if that was not his intention.
“An estimated 1.2 million women experienced domestic abuse last year alone; while you might not think you know someone who has experienced domestic abuse, it is highly likely that you do.
“That’s why it is so important for us to show understanding and empathy for someone who is clearly upset by certain behaviours rather than blaming them for overreacting.
— Big Brother UK (@bbuk) September 4, 2018
“For any survivors out there, you are not alone. Women’s Aid is always here to listen to you, believe you and support you.”
In a previous interview the actress has opened up about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her ex-boyfriend, sharing how he would pull her hair and hit her resulting in a neighbour calling the police.
“After a row he threw my phone and it smashed. I remember being on my hands and knees trying to piece the sim card and battery etc back together. He then kicked and stamped on it while it was in my hands and my knuckles and fingers were throbbing in pain,” she said.
However, not many share the view of Women’s Aid and many have been quick to doubt her previous accusations against he ex-boyfriend after numerous stars have come forward claiming she also accused them of similar behaviour. Many members of the public who have commented on the footage have taken to Twitter to slate the actress because of her day job and old acquaintances coming out of the wood work.
— jordan (@Coeyy11) September 1, 2018
— Perez (@ThePerezHilton) September 1, 2018
After the house turned on the actress and she heard for herself the public’s chants she has made the controversial decision to leave the house.
It seems the public and celebrities, including the CBB house (due to their refusal to formally and forcefully evict the housemate) have ruled that Ryan’s actions were without malice but instead fuelled by affection. The real question now is:
Is this an actress hiding from her own scripted story seeking extra Okay magazine features or a troubled women threatened by a PTSD trigger?