Channel 4’s First Dates may disguise itself as an hour of lighthearted entertainment each week, but the show has introduced us to many incredible people, who have taught us a number of invaluable life lessons during their time on the show.
There was Raymon, the 90-year-old gentleman who reminded us to reach out to the elderly and spend time with them whenever we can. Julie emotionally opened up about witnessing her husband’s murder – and implored viewers to stop taking loved ones for granted. And 37-year-old Annie revealed that she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, but wasn’t about to let it stop her quest to find love.
But, when Bonnie stepped into the First Dates restaurant, it seems many were too busy laughing over her fake tan confession and request for “beef steak” to pick up on what she had to say.
The 29-year-old hairdresser introduced herself to viewers with a smile, revealing that she hails from Slough (although she prefers to refer to herself as a “Windsor” local), and went on to explain that she has a knack for picking out unsuitable partners, lightheartedly comparing her dating life to a game of Pokemon Go.
“I always pick bad boys [by mistake],” she said, with a winning smile. “I’m looking for a rare one – but everyone wants a Pikachu.”
It seemed as if she might have found that in 30-year-old Perry. The semi-professional boxer let slip that he was very happy to be paired up with “special” Bonnie, who soon caused him to choke on his own laughter when she gave him her best impression of The Little Mermaid’s Sebastian.
But things soon took a turn for the serious when Perry mentioned his “psycho ex” – and prompted Bonnie to open up about her own.
“I pick the wrong type,” she said. “My ex-boyfriend – he started off so nice. But when we split up he didn’t take that very well.”
Bonnie went on to reveal that she had been violently assaulted by her former partner, much to Perry’s shock.
“I went around his house to pick up my stuff and that’s when he attacked me,” she said.
“He literally shattered my elbow and broke my arm in three places.”
Bonnie continued: “You don’t expect that to happen to you. Some people can change and they’re not who you think they are. And because he pulled the wool over my eyes so much, I didn’t have my guard up.”
Perry, overwhelmed by Bonnie’s tale, asked her how her ex reacted when he realised what he had done to her.
“He didn’t have much remorse,” she said. “It changed me as a person, big time. It knocked my confidence loads and affects my trust in people. I don’t really bother going on dates.”
Bonnie, refusing to let emotion overcome her, finished by admitting: “I’m left with a scar – and not just a physical scar, but it’s affected me emotionally – and my trust in people.
“It took me a really long time to get over it.”
Bonnie – who is mother to six-year-old son London – went on to tell Perry that she wants to be married in five years, to which he joked “just tell me the date”.
Channel 4 later confirmed that the date had been a success, and that the pair had gone on to enjoy the rest of their evening at a karaoke bar.
While Bonnie’s honesty and openness was a staunch reminder that anyone can be a victim of abuse - and one would hope that her appearance on the show could instill others with the confidence to speak up about their own experiences of abuse – her story seemed to have little impact on viewers. In fact, of all the tweets posted about Bonnie and Perry’s date, only a handful of them referred to her tale of domestic violence.
Instead, viewers focused on her physical appearance, her child’s unusual name and her confusion over the menu.
“Bonnie must have been having a fake tan when they gave out brains,” wrote one.
Another added: “Nobody can surely be as dopey as Bonnie naturally. She must have taken lessons.”
“Beef steak?” quizzed yet another. “Oh Bonnie, how do you put your pants on in the morning?”
Though violent crime generally has been falling since the mid-Nineties and continues to fall against men, violent crime against women has been rising since 2009.
One in four women will be a victim of specifically domestic abuse in her lifetime, it has a higher rate of repeat victimisation than any other crime, and, on average, a woman is assaulted 35 times before her first call to the police.
Refuge says: “Domestic violence is a problem for society, not individuals. It will only end when social attitudes change and we all take responsibility for speaking out against it.”
It can be difficult for many people trapped in toxic and abusive relationships to spot the warning signs.
These can include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Your partner constantly criticises, humiliates or belittles you
- Your partner checks up on you or follows you
- Your partner tries to keep you from seeing your friends or family
- Your partner has prevented you or made it hard for you to continue studying or going to work
- Your partner unjustly accuses you of flirting or having affairs with others
- Your partner has forced you to do something that you really did not want to do
- Your partner has deliberately destroyed any of your possessions
- You have changed your behaviour because you are afraid of what your partner might do or say to you
- Your partner controls your finances
- Your partner talks down to you
- Your partner has strong opinions on what you should wear and your appearance
- Your partner has tried to prevent you from leaving your house
- Your partner has forced you or harassed you into performing a sexual act
- Your partner has threatened to reveal or publish private information
- Your partner threatens to hurt him or herself if you leave them
- Your partner witholds medication from you
- Your partner makes you feel guilty all the time
- Your partner blames you for their bad moods and outbursts
- You are afraid of your partner
Images: Channel 4