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There Are Two Victims In The CBB 'Assault' Drama - And We Must Be Kind To Both Of Them

There Are Two Victims In The CBB 'Assault' Drama - And We Must Be Kind To Both Of Them

CBB's Roxanne Pallett has apologised to Ryan Thomas for claiming he 'abused' her, but there’s more to the story than meets the eye.

Kathy Miller

Kathy Miller

Whether you are an avid fan of the Channel 5 show or not, you will no doubt be aware of the recent scandal that has rocked this year's series of Celebrity Big Brother.

Indeed, Roxanne Pallett's claims that fellow soap star Ryan Thomas "punched [her] repeatedly, unprovoked and completely deliberately" have dominated headlines, panel shows and our social media feeds for the past few days - primarily because viewers, thanks to the surveillance-style nature of the reality show, witnessed the incident firsthand.

They watched Thomas playfully jab the air around Pallett's ribs. They saw the Emmerdale actress seemingly laugh off the incident as a joke. And they, too, were there when Pallett demanded to speak to producers in the Diary Room, where she tearfully informed them that Thomas had physically assaulted her.

"I went from being upset to being angry, because a boy has punched me repeatedly, unprovoked," she said. "And we weren't play fighting, there was no banter, it wasn't a joke," she claimed.

Thomas was issued with a formal warning over the incident, while Pallet begged to sleep in a separate room because she no longer felt "safe" in the shared bedroom. To many viewers, this was more than just an "overreaction" - it was a calculated move, purposefully carried out in order to shake Thomas.

Likewise, a number of Pallett's former colleagues came forward to criticise their "bullying" co-star, darkly implying that she had made "false allegations" of violence against male co-stars before.

"What about all the other accusations you've made along the years?" tweeted Charley Webb, who plays Debbie Dingle in the ITV soap. "If those cameras hadn't have been there, [Ryan] would be finished. End of."

Thankfully, though, those cameras were there. And, after a few incredibly tense days, and 11,000 Ofcom complaints, Thomas was left sobbing in relief as he heard CBB audience members chanting the words "get Roxy out" - indicating that his version of events hadn't just been noted by the public, but believed.

The situation was very different for Pallett, however. Just hours after Ben Jardine's eviction, the actress begged to be allowed to leave the Big Producers were all too happy to oblige, ushering the actress out the back door under the cover of darkness.


She did not have to face the baying crowds, she did not have to sit through an interview with Emma Willis, she did not pass 'Go', and she reportedly did not collect her £75,000 fee. Instead, all of her personal social media accounts were promptly deactivated, and the public celebrated her hasty exit with unbridled glee, sharing a slew of "ding dong, the witch is dead" memes on social media.

In short, Thomas has been held up as the wronged party: he is a victim, in need of our support. Pallett, on the other hand, has been painted as a monstrous liar: a cruel and vindictive woman, who has undermined the words of thousands of domestic violence victims in crying "wolf" for the sake of a TV show's popularity contest.

Indeed, during her appearance on Channel 5's debut Jeremy Vine show (her first interview since leaving Big Brother. this weekend), Pallett even fed into this narrative herself, insisting she owed Thomas an apology...

"I massively apologise to Ryan, his friends and fans and every single person who watched that," she said.

"[It was] an overreaction to what wasn't a malicious act.

"I was sensitive and emotional and mistook what was playful - I apologise for it, I shouldn't have questioned his motivation."

Case closed? Hardly: we're sure you don't need us to tell you that things are never that simple.

Firstly, it is important to note that, during an interview with This Morning in 2008, Pallett revealed that she had been in an abusive relationship with an ex.

Discussing an Emmerdale storyline that saw character Jo Sugden experience domestic violence, Pallett explained: "have been living this storyline since Christmas and you're researching it and it brings it all back to you and it's devastating.

"I can't even watch these scenes back without it choking me up. I was in an abusive relationship. It's hard for me because it's so close to home. It brings it all back to you."

Secondly, we need to remember that the physical scars of an abusive relationship fade far more quickly than the psychological ones. In fact, recent studies of female survivors in domestic violence shelters found that 88 percent of women were living with PTSD.

The symptoms of PTSD can include:

  • Intrusive memories of the abuse
  • Loss of interest in other people and the outside world
  • Insomnia
  • Agitation
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Depression
  • Overwhelming feelings of sadness, fear, despair, guilt or self-hatred
  • Physical pain that migrates throughout the body
  • An inability to imagine a positive future

Most pertinent, however, is the fact that victims of abuse will often experience feelings of intense distress when remembering the trauma - and, if you watch the encounter between Thomas and Pallett back, it isn't too much of a leap to suggest that this is exactly what happened to the Emmerdale actress: her body immediately tenses, her face becomes devoid of expression, and she quickly remarks that Thomas has hurt her ("ow, that bloody hurt"). The soapstar then removes herself from the situation and Thomas' grip, before - under the guise of speaking to herself - processing the events that just occurred.

Yes, Thomas' actions were playful. Yes, his intention was to demonstrate affection. And yes, the Coronation Street actor has since been pushed to breaking point in the house - when he absolutely did not deserve to be. However, we need to remember - and believe - that, in that fleeting moment, Pallett perceived Thomas as a threat... and that she reacted instinctively and accordingly. Unlike Jardine, who often sparred playfully in the house with Pallett, the actress has never seen Thomas as a friend. If multiple reports are to be believed, in fact, the duo had a troubled relationship prior to entering the house: her ex is one of his best friends, for starters. And context, as we know already from the #MeToo movement, really is everything: a play fight with a close friend presumably feels very different to a play fight with a man you barely know. With a man who is bigger than you. With a man whom you reportedly have "bad blood" with.

Is it too far fetched to suggest that a play fight, under those circumstances, would feel... well, would feel frightening? Especially to someone who has been violently assaulted by a man in the past?

As a representative for Women's Aid notes: "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.

They add: "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. For any survivors out there, you are not alone. Women's Aid is always here to listen to you, believe you and support you."

Pallett is not the wicked witch of this story: not really. In this instance, yes, she has behaved in a manner which could be described as abusive - but that does not undo the fact that she still bears the scars of an abused woman.

"I have been a victim of domestic abuse," Pallett reminds us. "I've worked with Women's Aid because of my own experience and perhaps they were right, my reaction was a tell-tale sign I had been in a situation like that. I would be horrified if people thought I had discredited and undermined abuse.

"After it happened, my mind ran away with me and everything in that house becomes so heightened - a look, a comment an action, your insecurities and sensitivity - in the moment it felt worse than it was."In branding Pallett a bully on social media, we ourselves become bullies. In failing to forgive her behaviour - as Thomas himself has already done, being the kind-hearted gentleman he is - we are showing ourselves incapable of compassion.
Channel 5

And, in dismissing Pallett as a Machiavellian monster with a game plan, we are undoing all the good work achieved by the #IBelieveHer campaign earlier this year. Instead, we feed-into this dangerous narrative that the burden of proof is on the victim: that false allegations are common and that innocent people suffer as the result of being wrongfully accused.

Yes, Thomas is undeniably a victim here: his emotional distress was difficult to watch, his torment clear for everyone to see. But Pallett is a victim, too - and she is every bit as deserving of our sympathy as her CBB co-star is. Just because her wounds are older, after all, does not mean that they have yet healed.

If you are worried about your relationship or that of a friend or family member, you can contact the Freephone 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women's Aid and Refuge, on 0808 2000 247 or visit

Words by: Rosanna Woods

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Topics: Celebrity Big Brother, Ryan Thomas, Celebrity News, TV News, CBB, TV Entertainment, Celebrity Entertainment