Melanie Brown, of the Spice Girls, was given the accolade in the New Year Honours for services to charitable causes and vulnerable women, following her work with domestic violence charity Women’s Aid.
Speaking to Steph McGovern, the 46-year-old popstar, described being awarded the honour as “still a little bit shocking and very overwhelming, it’s a big deal”.
In an exclusive interview on Steph’s Packed Lunch on Channel 4, filmed at Leeds Dock, Mel said: "I’m standing up something I truly believe in, that I’ve experienced myself, so to be awarded for that… I’m really proud of it. If I can shed light on it and help in anyway, I’m not going to stop.”
Dedicating the award to victims of domestic abuse, Mel said: “But it’s not about what I’ve done, I’m the voice for all those other women, and men, that have ever suffered an abusive relationship. This is for all them lot that don’t have the platform that I have to speak up about it.”
She added: “When I was speaking about it way back in 2017, it was something people didn’t talk about, it was considered icky and taboo and dark and shameful. When I brought my book out there was only one publisher willing to publish it.
"That’s how undercover it was. It was like the taboo, dirty topic to talk about…. Now we can talk about it and it’s a huge epidemic, we need to get behind and support charities like Women’s Aid.”
Earlier this week, Mel visited her late father’s grave to share the news of the award with him.
Mel said: "He gave me the strength to leave my marriage.
"On his death bed I promised him I would leave then three weeks later when I got back to LA… I left.
"I know he would be so proud of me and wouldn’t actually be able to believe Mel B, mixed-race kid from a council estate in Leeds has done that and achieved this.”
Telling Steph about receiving the letter informing her about the MBE, Mel said: "The letter arrived at mum’s house in chauffer driven car… My mum calls me and goes ‘there’s a letter here from your majesty, what have you done?’
"I rushed home and my hands were shaking… My went ‘open it open it, oh my God you’re in trouble…’
“I opened it up and I had to read it again and again because it wasn’t sinking in… It was really overwhelming, it wasn’t anything to do with being a Spice Girl… It was all to do with my shedding the light on the taboo topic, domestic violence.
"Just to be acknowledged and awarded for that, to be able to be a voice and help women through traumatic experiences, and men too… it’s a lot.”
Speaking about changes in the law to extend the time victims can report domestic abuse to police from six months to two years, Mel described the lasting impact her experiences have had on her.
She said: “When you leave an abusive relationship it can take you years to get over it. I’m six years out and I still get PTSD and flashbacks and if a door slams, I can still jump and I get nervous.
"Especially if you’ve experienced coercive control, it really gets your soul, it destroys your personality, your confidence. So to say you’ve only got two years from when the incident happened to report it, before it was only six months, two years is not long enough.
"But it’s a start and at least it’s heading in the right direction. Some women may never get over it.”
Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United. With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.