The real reasons Mel B. filed for divorce

When Melanie "Mel B." Brown filed for divorce from Stephen Belafonte after almost a decade together, the world was pretty shocked — especially considering that just weeks before the divorce filing went public, she'd posted a mushy Instagram about him. What gives? Well, it turns out, a lot, including allegations of cheating, abuse, family estrangement … and even killing a duck. Seriously.

Her ex has a checkered past

Belafonte has a colorful history, to put it euphemistically. The Daily Mail reported that in 1994, Belafonte was charged with burglary and theft in New Jersey, later getting the charges reduced to a conviction of receiving stolen property.

The Sun reported that in 1997, Belafonte's marriage to Nancy Carmell was annulled after she fled to her native Honolulu, Hawaii, from Los Angeles.

In 2000, he was accused of assaulting two men in a road rage incident. The charge was reduced to vandalism, and he was forced to pay for damages to the men's vehicle.

The Daily Mail reported that in 2003, Belafonte pleaded no contest to battering his then-common-law wife, Nicole Contreras, in a drunken rage. He later rescinded his confession, claiming that he was "confused" at the time, but the conviction stuck.

In 2007, two years after marrying Brown, he admitted to once bludgeoning a duck to death with a brick outside of his New Jersey home when he was a teenager. The Sun reports that he fled to Los Angeles and never paid his court fine for the incident.

In 2010, Belafonte allegedly got into a brawl with three men at a London hotel, The Daily Mail reported. Brown said Belafonte was defending her from the men, one of whom was hospitalized after the fight. No charges were filed.

He was accused of domestic violence against her

In December 2014, allegations that Belafonte was abusive toward Brown were rampant after the "Wannabe" singer was hospitalized for severe stomach pains, then photographed with bruises. A source told The Sun at the time, "Mel's marriage has reached crisis point — in fact it's on life support. She has told friends it is over with Stephen … Mel hasn't spoken to Stephen once since her admission to hospital last week and as it stands she doesn't want to see him. He didn't come to the hospital at all. It's a very sad state of affairs given she could have died. Everyone around her is encouraging her to stay strong and to leave him for good this time because they don't believe their relationship is healthy."

The source added, "Things have been very rocky over the last few weeks but Mel had been trying to put it all to one side … Last week everything escalated and there were a number of very big rows before Mel ended up in hospital."

Brown's own mother, Andrea, tweeted allegations that Belafonte physically abused the former Spice Girl, writing (via Radar Online), "Little good news 4 me lost half a stone in 1 week+ will never suffer a vile abusive 3am call from Stephan Belafonti [sic] again!!….On average It takes 30 beatings 4 a woman to leave abusive man how sad more should b done 4 these victims!!"

Belafonte denied laying a hand on Brown, and an insider told The Sun, "The scratches on her body were due to the hospital care … Obviously she was looking very fragile and weak because of the huge emotional stress she's been experiencing, partly because of the situation with Stephen. She was advised against appearing on the [X Factor] final on Sunday but Mel is a true professional and didn't want to let the show down. But it was obvious to everyone just how much she was suffering and she was crying at certain points during the show."

He may have been after her money

A source told The Sun that Belafonte nearly cleaned Brown out while she was hospitalized in December 2014 — which he was able to do because he controlled not just the couple's finances, but also Brown's individual accounts. She was so distraught that insiders said she even looked to Simon Cowell for help.

"When she left hospital she was all over the place. But she was clear she wanted to end her marriage. But because he controlled her finances, she had no money. She didn't even know what her own bank details were — all she had was a credit card. So she turned to her colleagues and friends, including Simon."

The source added, "Stephen controlled everything when it came to Mel. He was the manager, and her accountant, her lawyer, all of them had been chosen by him. She was due to receive a final part of her X Factor fee. Unfortunately the company who paid that money — and it was a large amount — had been too efficient, and it had already been paid. And by the time Mel's friends managed to get hold of the account details, it wasn't there."

A source also told Metro, "Money was at the center of many rows."

Unfortunately for him, they had a pretty firm prenup in place that should ensure he won't get much of her $60 million fortune.

He was allegedly controlling

In addition to controlling Brown's finances, sources close to the songbird allege that Belafonte wanted to control every other aspect of her life as well. "Mel has wanted to divorce Stephen for two years — the marriage was totally toxic and she knew it. It was very sad because she simply didn't have the strength to leave," an insider told The Sun. "They would split up for a period, but something kept drawing her back."

As for her frequent social media posts gushing over her man, including one as recently as Feb. 6, 2017 (despite listing their date of separation on her divorce filing as Dec. 28, 2016), a Brown bud said, "Stephen was all about control. There were times he'd take over her social media accounts to post messages about himself as if Mel had said them."

Belafonte's brother, Jeremiah Stansbury, told The Sun that Belafonte even tried controlling what Brown ate. "At one point he insisted that the whole family should only have sushi with half the rice as he thought that was healthier. Steve would also guard the fridge and monitor what was in it. It was his way of controlling things. But it caused really nasty arguments with Mel," he said. "If she wanted to order pizza he would tell her, 'No, we're having sushi,' and they would start shouting and swearing at each other."

She was concerned about his temper and alleged violent tendencies

Stansbury, told The Sun that Brown was concerned that Belafonte kept a gun in his home. "In America keeping guns is normal but I remember one of the maids telling me that Mel was confused about why he needs one. She seemed to be a bit nervous about it."

Stansbury also said that Belafonte was violent toward Brown's Labrador retriever, Lord. "I saw him punch Lord in the ribs full force with all of his strength," Stansbury said. "The dog collapsed and had no breath and was crying. He was standing there laughing. It made me feel ill. This was in July 2008 and Mel was not there to intervene. Steve loves to hurt animals."

They argued constantly

A source told Radar Online that while the couple's arguments never became physical, they did get verbally brutal — and they were frequent enough for Brown to temporarily move out in December 2014 after she was hospitalized. "[They] are taking a time-out from the marriage," the source said. "They love hard and fight hard. However, those fights are only verbal, and Stephen has never laid a hand on Mel, and would never hit her."

An insider also told Metro that many of their fights were public. "Mel was incredibly open about their fights and arguments in front of staff on America's Got Talent and other shows. She'd have screaming matches with him on the phone or even at the studio. It was so bizarre, as they didn't appear to show any love, care or even respect at times. He would make rude statements about her body and having sex with her. It is a surprise they stayed together so long."

He hated her family (and vice versa)

Sources claim Brown was estranged from her parents and sister during her relationship with and marriage to Belafonte.

In February 2017, Brown's sister, Danielle, tweeted (via The Sun), "Just 2 put the record strait [sic]! I've Not seen my sister for 8 years,there is no family reunion planned, it is what it is … I will never ever take my children away from there [sic] grandparents or family and no man can ever dictate what I do." The outlet also reported that Danielle once tweeted to Brown, "Enough is Enough we need a PRIVATE family meeting.you me mum and dad No Film crew no cameras and NO STEPHEN,R THE KIDS SAFE?"

In 2011, Brown's mother, Andrea, reportedly said (via The Mirror), "I only found out [Brown] was pregnant because of Twitter and I found out on Twitter that she'd had the baby too." She also said in 2012, "Half of my family is missing to me. Every day I pine for Mel [and grandchildren] Phoenix and Angel."

The Mirror also reported that Brown's family was kept in the dark about her hospitalization in 2014. Danielle reportedly tweeted a series of furious, fearful messages directed at Belafonte at the time. "This is ridiculous and cruel !!! Evil ! How can NO one tell me and my family where my sister is and what is going on?????" she wrote, adding, "Just a simple call to say she gonna be ok is all it takes … STOP @stephenthinks1 with your evil lies!! You told me and my mum yesterday she is fine and not in hospital @SimonCowell just doing press!"

Even Belafonte's own brother slammed him for allegedly isolating Brown from her family and friends. "When they met she was still in touch with her family. She had her best friend as her assistant too. Since then everybody has fallen out," he told The Sun. "Stephen told Mel her mum didn't believe in her dreams and not to talk to her. Now she will see that you can't cut your mum off, you can't cut your sister off. These people are going to be there for you."

Brown's estrangement from her family likely ended with the passing of her father in early March 2017, when both she and sister Danielle were at his side. A source told The Sun, "Her father's death and being back with her mum and sister gave her the strength to make the divorce legal." An insider echoed the sentiment to Metro, saying, "Martin's passing provided a moment of complete clarity for Mel. For the first time in a decade, she decided to put blood before water."

He may have cheated

Though the couple were very open about their sex life, Belafonte was accused of fooling around behind Brown's back. In February 2017, a source close to the couple told Star (via Gossip Cop) that Belafonte was holding hands with another woman at a New York City steakhouse while Brown performed in Chicago on Broadway. "Mel was furious when she found out. Of course, Stephen denied any wrongdoing, but they've been down this road before — and Mel simply doesn't trust him anymore."

Stansbury asserted to The Sun that Belafonte often flirted with the couple's nanny, and that while working as a chauffeur for the pair, that Belafonte would often ask him to drive him around to philander with other women. "Steve asked me to I drop him off in at a club and I drove the car around while I waited for him. When I went to pick him up he had these two 20-year-old girls with him that he had convinced he was a famous movie producer," he said. "He told me to drive and we dropped one of the girls off. But the other girl stayed and he told me to drive to the apartment he kept away from Mel's house and went inside with her. Later I dropped the girl off and he went back home and got into bed with Melanie."

His alleged physical abuse made her fear for her safety

Brown alleged in a restraining order filed on Monday, April 3, 2017, that Belafonte's abuse was so severe that Brown and her three children are terrified for their own safety around him. TMZ reports that Brown's restraining order requires Belafonte to not just stay away from Brown and her children, but to get out of their family home.

According to Brown's statements in the filing, the alleged abuse has gone on for almost a decade and follows a distinct pattern: Whenever she had any degree of success, Belafonte would allegedly "beat [her] down to let me know he was in charge."

She accused Belafonte of allegedly choking her the night of her Dancing With The Stars finale in November 2007. She claimed that in July 2012 when she was scheduled to film a segment of X Factor with Usher that Belafonte got so jealous that he allegedly punched her in the face with a closed fist and split her lip. Brown claimed that a month later in August 2012, a day after she performed the Olympic closing ceremonies, that Belafonte punched her and pushed her down into the carpet, causing her to have rug burns and scabs on her skin — and that he subsequently allegedly forced her to tweet that her injuries were from running in high heels.

Belafonte denied all the allegations.

He allegedly tried to blackmail her

In Brown's restraining order, obtained by TMZ, she claims that Belafonte has numerous sex tapes of her, as well as of the couple together with other women, and that he allegedly frequently threatened to release the tapes to destroy her career. What's even worse? Brown claims that many of the videos were recorded without her knowledge nor consent. Brown alleges that Belafonte would coerce her into having threesomes and that if she refused, he'd threaten to release the tapes. Belafonte insists the allegations are false.

He allegedly had an affair with their nanny

Brown claimed that Belafonte wanted to have a three-way relationship with the couple's nanny, and that he even got the nanny pregnant. Belafonte allegedly "forced" the nanny to get an abortion and paid her $300,000 of Brown's money for "alleged nanny services."

Her marriage may have made her suicidal

Brown claimed in her restraining order that in 2014, she was "overcome with emotional and physical exhaustion" and took an entire bottle of aspirin. When she attempted to call 999 (the British version of 911), she alleges that Belafonte blocked her from doing so, threw her in their bedroom and locked her in, telling her, "Die, b***h!" She claimed in her filing that she tried to leave Belafonte numerous times, and that each time he "threatened [her] with violence and threatened to destroy [her] life in every possible way … destroy [her] career and take [her] kids from me."