It's been a tough couple of weeks for Married At First Sight NZ bride Vicky Fuller.
She's had to watch herself fall apart on national TV under the pressure of trying to make a marriage work with a man who's never had a girlfriend, and at the same time deal with some unexpectedly confrontational behaviour from some of her cast mates.
In hindsight she says, "I wish I'd stuck up for myself more instead of just letting it happen."
"I just kind of shut down a bit. I was thinking, 'Are you really thinking those things, why did you talk to me like this?'"
For anyone who's out of the loop Vicky found herself in the firing line of both Ray and James (AKA Jimmy) after she became caught up in a falling-out between gay couple, Ray and Jono.
Ray seemed "to have a bone to pick" with Vicky. Meanwhile Jimmy declared "war" on her because she inadvertently upset his wife, Carmen, in defending Jono.
Jimmy's behaviour came as even more of a shock to Vicky because she had had a relationship with him prior to filming and had considered him "a mate".
But then just as we thought things couldn't get any worse for Vicky her husband, Stefaan Nes, turned on her. Ray and James had pulled him aside to ask him if he had "anything to get off his chest" - the next minute he's revealing he doesn't think Vicky is on the show "for the right reasons" and that if she'd "left the show tomorrow" he'd feel "nothing".
Vicky is still clearly shaken as she unpacks what happened over the phone.
"It was a very uncomfortable part of the experiment and that all happened in a short time.
"Watching it back, it was very stressful - and it all stemmed from supporting Jonathan. By doing that I think I made myself a little bit of a target."
She felt Ray and James' treatment of her was "just really uncalled for".
"I wanted a deeper understanding of why they were doing this, why they felt the need to talk to me the way Jimmy spoke to me, and the aggression he showed towards me.
"I appreciate and love that Jimmy was supporting his wife but he really went about it in the wrong way."
She says she'd initially been excited to discover that Jimmy was on the same show as her.
"But obviously that didn't turn out to be as good of an experience."
What upset Vicky even more, though, was that everything exploded at a point where she and Stefaan were finally starting to develop a connection.
"It wasn't perfect from the start and so for us we had to put a lot of effort into the relationship... Then for him to say those things I was so upset because I thought we were on the same page.
"I tried hard to take it on board as best I could but it was challenging."
Vicky has fallen back on the support of family and friends since the show wrapped. She says her parents, in particular, were "appalled seeing these nasty and uncomfortable exchanges and very upset at how they made me feel".
"But they were very proud with how I responded to, and handled the situation," she says.
Vicky is a primary school teacher and says her teaching community has also been hugely supportive.
She had applied for the show with high hopes.
"I'd been travelling for about a year and a half and prior to that had a few flings but nothing ever developed. When I was travelling I thought I'd meet the man of my life and it was going to be amazing but it never happened, and after a couple of years of being properly single with no serious connection I just felt sad. I had no one to share life's moments with.
"Towards the end of my time travelling a close friend sent me the link to apply for Married at First Sight and I was like if experts are involved then maybe they'll find me my perfect match."
The closer she got to meeting her husband, the more excited she became, she says.
One of the biggest things she has learned about herself from being on MAFS is that she is patient.
"There were times when it wasn't easy but I knew that as soon as we started talking about everything [and Stefaan revealed that he'd never had a relationship]. That was fine; I took that on board and tried not to think about it too much.
"The whole point of the experiment was to get to know another human being, it would be ridiculous if I'd left because there was no immediate connection."
She is also proud of taking up Jono's corner in his ongoing dramas with Ray.
"I tried to stick to my morals and values as much as I could and I was proud of sticking up for Jono even though it wasn't part of my relationship. But it's a social experiment so you can't just drop who you are as a person. I'm quite protective and supportive when I need to be."
She can't say she hasn't come out of the show a little battle scarred.
But she also knows she is stronger than she looks.
As a child Vicky was diagnosed with scholiosis and had to undergo major surgery at the age of 14 to have her spine corrected. She now has two titanium rods that will remain permanently in her back as well as a prominent scar down her spine.
"It's a scar that I'm proud of," she says with a smile. "Sometimes you forget about it and then someone sees it and I'm happy to tell them about it."
When Vicky was first diagnosed the curve in her spine was at a 45 degree angle.
"The normal curve in the back is up to 20 degrees. I had regular checks for about a year to monitor it because at that point it wasn't causing me too much pain.
"But by the time I was 14 it had increased to 55 degrees and was only getting worse. They realised that if they didn't operate now it could permanently damage my heart and lungs. All of my ribs on one side were squashed and on other side they were quite spread apart, which was quite painful. In my bikini you could see clearly that I was not symmetrical.
"At the age of 13 and 14 you don't think about it too much, you don't have that understanding of the bigger picture. But my dad is a doctor and my mum, a nurse, so they knew the implications. I could feel their sense of worry, I remember my mum crying."
Fortunately, the surgery was a success and after a year Vicky was able to return to playing sport - something she had always loved as a child. She went on to play representative hockey and cricket.
"One of the great things, which we joke about, is I always have great posture," Vicky laughs. "My legs also got really strong because you lose a bit of flexibility in your spine."
She doesn't set the metal detectors off at the airport, though - something that disappointed her, she jokes.
While, of all the MAFS cast members Vicky probably copped the most flack, she says she has no regrets about taking part in the show.
"I met some great people and I had some tough experiences but also some amazing ones. In Stefaan I found some beautiful traits.
"He's a lovely, sweet, genuine, kind guy and those things are very attractive. He makes me laugh all the time.
"I wouldn't do it again. I've been there, done that and ticked the box now. But I wouldn't tell anyone else they shouldn't do it. You never know what you might find."
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