A domestic abuse charity has denounced a comment made by Love Island's Jonny Mitchell as "possessive and controlling," warning that such "banter" could easily slip into an abusive relationship.
Polly Neate, CEO of Women's Aid, called Mitchell out for his actions towards fellow contestant and former flame Tyla Carr, which suggested he believed he "owns" her. The charity took particular issue with his remark that new islander Theo Campbell would have to prise Tyla "from [his] cold dead hands" (catch the episode on ITV Player here if you missed it).
Neate said of Mitchell's comment: “When Jonny said that new arrival Theo would have to prise Tyla ‘from my cold dead hands’ it was not romantic. It did not demonstrate just how much he liked her. It was possessive and controlling.
“What can be all too easily passed off as banter, actually carries the underlying sentiment that this man believes he owns this woman,” she added.
Neate said she believed it was her duty to highlight the comment to help others identify abusive behaviour in their own relationships. “All of us have a duty to call out this sort of behaviour and challenge these sexist remarks when we hear them."
She added: “The fact that Tyla says she was left wanting to run away from a controlling relationship in the past, shows just how easy this sort of behaviour, if unchecked, can slip into a controlling and abusive relationship.”
Jonny and Tyla struggled to maintain their romance after latecomer (and Team GB 400m runner) Theo Campbell arrived in the villa. After the most recent recoupling, in which Theo picked Tyla, the pair had to be separated during a row. Jonny and Tyla finally decided to call it quits in last night's episode (Monday 10th July).
Mitchell's remark came after he overheard Campbell telling Carr: "[Jonny] is on you 24/7. To me that shows how insecure he is at the moment and to not even let you out of his grasp or out of his sight, and he’s losing his head.”
In the same episode, Campbell warned Carr that Mitchell's behaviour could have escalated even further in the outside world. “If he can lose his head that easily, imagine like you go to a club or something and you’re getting a photo with another boy and that, he’s gonna lose his s*** with you […] He’s not gonna be any different outside.”
Domestic abuse, as defined by Women's Aid, may entail coercive control ("a pattern of intimidation, degradation, isolation and control with the use or threat of physical or sexual violence"), psychological and/or emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, harassment, stalking and online or digital abuse.
If you're experiencing domestic abuse, visit the Women's Aid website or call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247.