4 Stars,  Mini Reviews

Why Did You Stay?: A Memoir About Self-Worth By Rebecca Humphries

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4/5 Stars – A blazingly honest memoir of abuse, very public heartbreak, and self-(re)discovery. Inspiring, uplifting and funny

Format: Kindle
Read: January 2024

I heard about this book when Rebecca was on Jameela Jamil’s iWeigh podcast. I don’t watch Strictly Come Dancing, nor do I pay attention to Twitter, so I had no idea not the tabloid drama in 2018, and I had no idea who Seann Walsh is! I still don’t outside the context of Rebecca, but he seems too “laddy” for me and I don’t think I’d find his stand up funny if it mainly consists of girlfriend jokes. I did find Rebecca very engaging on the podcast, so I stuck her book on my Kindle watch list until one day it was magically 99p!

For those who, like me, had no idea about any of this – Rebecca’s boyfriend of 5 years is (apparently) a comedian famous enough to get on Strictly in 2018. While on the show he did the cliché thing and had an affair with his (married) dance partner, and was careless enough to get papped kissing her.. which has the added sting of taking place on Rebecca’s birthday while she was home alone crying. This photo was all over the tabloids.

Rebecca released her own statement via Twitter which launched her as a leading voice for women who are victims of gaslighting, and who have been trapped in coercive controlling relationships.

Hello there, My name is Rebecca Humphries and I am not a victim.

I wasn't sure whether to respond to events from the past week, but I feel the narrative has missed a couple of crucial elements that I would like to clear up.

It’s incredibly good of Sean(n) and Katya to apologise in the media. I have received nothing. other than the support of my family, friends, and a host of strangers on the internet who all wanted to make sure I was OK.

What I have also kindly received are many offers to sell my side of the story, but I would prefer for it to be on my own terms.

“Those pictures were taken on October 3, it was my birthday. I was alone at home when Sean texted at 10pm saying the two of them were going for one innocent drink.

We spoke, and I told him, not for the first time, that his actions over the past three weeks had led me to believe something inappropriate was going on.

He aggressively and repeatedly called me a psycho/nuts/mental. As he has done countless times throughout our relationship when I’ve questioned his inappropriate, hurtful behaviour.

But - this whole business has served to remind me that I am a strong, capable person who is now free: and no victim.

I have a voice and will use it by saying this to any woman out there who deep down feels worthless and trapped with a man they love: Believe in yourself and your instincts.

It's more than lying. It's controlling. Tell some very close friends who, if they’re anything like my wonderful network, will swoop in and take care of the logistics and of you.

It’s important also to recognise that in these situations those who hold power over you are insecure and fragile and the need for control comes from a place of vulnerability. I think it certainly does in Sean’s case.

Despite everything I hope he gets what he wants from this. I'm not sorry I took the cat, though.

Love, Rebecca

This memoir is her answer to that insidious comment: if it was so bad, why did you stay?

The narrative flips between the many past moments where she almost left but stayed, and her more recent experiences after she left that illustrates her growth towards loving herself.

It is blazingly honest and raw, and so relatable. I’ve never been in a situation like Rebecca’s but I’ve had some bad experiences, been betrayed and manipulated, and healed my share of heartbreak. I think most women will find something familiar in her story.

It is also very funny! She is a great writer and her sense of humour really carries the memoir through some darkness. In the end I found it very uplifting and inspiring, and had me so incredibly grateful that I finally met my wonderful, supportive and easy to be around partner!

I really enjoyed the subversion of romance tropes where she sets up what would happen in a rom-com, before pulling back to state that this is Real Life and that’s not how healthy people work. I really loved the bit where she talks about new romantic memories made with her platonic friends.

My only niggle with this book is that Rebecca is incredibly privileged in that she had such a supportive and available network of friends to rally around, right on her doorstep whom she could live with and have all these incredible fun experiences. At least in my own experience and the loneliness epidemic, most people do not have that these days, especially in their 30s.

I suspect this is a testament to her personality that these people stuck around despite her having pushed them away, as well as the fact she works as an actor and lives in London, an industry location that conveniently clusters like-minded creative people together (all her friends seem to be performers).

This part of her story was alien to me, so I don’t think it would necessarily be of help to those people who are lonely and isolated without anyone to lean on in their lives. At times I did feel a little envious of her having all these brilliant friends around to hang out with all the time!

That’s a tiny note though, this was a fantastic and otherwise relatable and uplifting read that I highly recommend. Rebecca is a star, and I’m glad she rose out of that bin fire of a relationship!

This one has got me feeling reflective about past relationships, perhaps I’ll share something on that topic soon.

REVIEW SUMMARY

I LIKED

  • Honest, raw and relatable for so many women who lost themselves in bad relationships.
  • Fiercely told, uplifting and inspiring.
  • Also very funny!
  • I enjoyed the subversion of romance tropes, because this is real life and not a movie!

I DIDN’T LIKE

  • Minor niggle, but she does not acknowledge how incredibly lucky & privileged she is to have had such an available support network. Not many people have that.
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