TV

MAFS expert Mel Schilling speaks out about the 'painful' and 'hate-filled' bullying she endured

The relationship coach is taking a stand against the avalanche of hate she was subjected to while the show was on air.

Married at First Sight Australia expert Mel Schilling has taken to Instagram to reveal the extent of the bullying she faced over a heated encounter with Bronson Norrish on the show.
The relationship coach made headlines in February when she cautioned Bronson over his use of language towards his on-screen wife Ines. The exchange, which you can watch in the player above, sparked outrage amongst many fans who felt like there was a clear double standard going on.
Many were on the side of Bronson, who after weeks of being treated poorly by his new wife finally snapped, using the c-word to describe her. Mel made sure he knew in no uncertain terms that his choice of language was unacceptable.
"When you use language like that in relation to a woman, how do you expect her to respond to you? A tip from me to you: Don't use language like that if you want any chance of a relationship with a woman," she told him.
But it didn't sit well with some viewers, and a petition calling for her to be sacked garnered 64,000 signatures in only a few days.
"Married at First Sight so called expert Mel Schilling lashes out at Bronson for using foul language," the petition read. "This so called psychologist is a biased feminist who has made it clear that she thinks it's okay for a woman to behave the way Ines does."
"Bronson has been a victim of her verbal and emotional abuse all week, and the second he decides its enough 'expert' Mel comes in and says he shouldn't be using that language. The thing is, Ines is exactly what he said, a nasty, abusive piece of work."
"Mel needs to make a formal apology or be sacked from the show. The show doesn't need one sided feminists as an 'expert.'"
Mel was forced to defend her actions, saying "I'm gender-blind in that role. Abusive or harmful behaviour is something I'm going to call out whether it's men or women doing it."
MAFS experts Mel, Dr Trisha Stratford and John Aiken were faced with a lot of poor behaviour from the show's participants.
The incident, along with the resulting petition and the headlines it made, opened the floodgates for criticism directed at her and now Mel has taken to Instagram to send a message about bullying.
"Earlier this year I had a small taste of bullying myself. It was intense, hate-filled, personal and painful," she revealed.
Thankful that it only lasted one week, she says "it really made me think about people, especially kids who experience this type of abuse day-in-day-out, and the impact it has on self esteem. Personal abuse like bullying has the power to tear down every fibre of strength and resilience - and it must stop."
The 48-year-old's post was made in support of anti-bullying group Bully Zero. Accompanied by pictures of her and her four-year-old daughter Madison wearing the charity's anti-bullying t-shirts, she also touched on how the suicide of her cousin had impacted her life, saying she had experienced first-hand how suicide "shatters families and communities."

Quoting Australia's sobering male-heavy suicide statistics, she urged people to reach out "if you are being bullied, if you are confused about any feelings, if you have pain you can't explain or if you just feel wrong."
It's not an easy position the experts place themselves in, and fellow relationship adviser John Aiken has also spoken out about the criticism he faces, even revealing he seeks psychological help of his own to deal with the issues the show raises.
"It's tough enough having to play bad cop with all these big personalities on the show, but then people stop me on the street to have a go at me and they're outraged on social media," he revealed to Woman's Day earlier this year.
"I'm not there to be liked, but I have to be thick-skinned and not take things too personally. I don't go out as much as I used to and I'm more cautious about meeting new people, so it's changed the way I socialise."
John, 48, credits the show's off-camera psychologists with helping him deal with the drama and confesses he takes a holiday "on an island in the middle of nowhere just to gather myself" at the end of each exhausting season.
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