‘Not the person I’m portrayed as’: Why Seann Walsh’s public ‘apology’ is very problematic
There are very few people who know how to issue a statement or public apology in a time of crisis and come out the other side. This week, Rebecca Humphries chose to take control of a narrative that she didn’t ask to be involved in; a very public betrayal by her now ex-boyfriend, comedian Seann Walsh who was caught passionately kissing his Strictly Come Dancing partner Katya Jones, despite the fact that both were in relationships. But yet, she was called the “psycho” for calling her partner out for his inappropriate behaviour before it was made public; gaslighted by someone who was clearly masking deep-seated insecurities. But far worse is that this person was Walsh, Rebecca’s then-boyfriend. Gaslighting – manipulating someone by psychological means into doubting their own sanity – is a tool that is often used by abusers to silence their partners.
Humphries did the right thing; she eloquently found the words from a place of strength – so much so, that we didn’t want to even talk about Walsh. But tonight, he made his first public ‘apology’ on national TV, and it left a lot to be desired, to put it mildly. Beware the man who calls you “a psycho/nuts/mental” person “countless” times in a relationship and the one who uses his own words of supposed remorse to attempt to twist the blame on his girlfriend.
Twisting the narrative
Throughout the highly awkward 3-minute segment aired on BBC’s It Takes Two, Walsh wasn’t successfully emphatic when it came to attempting to apologise for the hurt he had caused those around him – never once mentioning Rebecca Humphries by name, the woman who was directly affected by his actions.
Instead, he turned it on her, “I’d rather not have to speak about this publically,” was his response when asked to comment on her statement – the implication being that it was Humphries who had caused the furore of media attention, that it was worse to have to comment on it at all, worse then the mistake made initially.
“I’m not perfect, far from it. Our relationship wasn’t perfect. That doesn’t mean I wanted it to end the way it finally did, and I’m very sorry for that,” he continued. But even hinting at the status of the relationship within the apology is problematic; it indicates a shifting of blame that is eerily reminiscent of Johnny Depp-like words in the latest issue of GQ. It was, however, this statement that separated Walsh (quite literally) from Humphries’ carefully chosen and empowering words:
“I feel it’s also important for me to say that the people that know me the most, that love me, they know that I am not the person I’m being portrayed as. I’m still sorry for what I did, but it’s very important for me to get that out there.”
The strength of Rebecca’s words lies in her ability to acknowledge her ex’s vulnerabilities. Yes, to give some credit, he did acknowledge his mistake; he said sorry, that he’d caused hurt but he didn’t extend her the same courtesy – instead, he chose to end his ‘apology’ deflecting his actions on his former girlfriend; a thinly-veiled attempt to dismiss her words. The media coverage that deems Walsh “stricken” and “fighting back tears” – he looked close to neither during the short TV segment – also does this.
Humphries can do little more now – she has used her rousing voice in the best way, and she took the cat.
Something good at least came of a bad situation.