HOLLY WAINWRIGHT: Laura Brand, Bijou Phillips and what we want from the wives of bad men.

For Bijou Phillips, it took 11 days.

And that was 11 days too long.

On September 7, her husband, the actor Danny Masterson, was sentenced to 30 years for rape. During his trial, Phillips went to court and sat in the public gallery next to his family. Sometimes, she walked in beside him. She is the mother of his nine-year-old daughter, and they have shared a life for 12 years.

On September 18, she filed for divorce

In between those two dates, Phillips was the subject of enormous scrutiny. The headlines that insisted she was “standing by” her husband came with a heavy dose of judgement.

We entirely believed the reports from un-named sources that claimed Phillips had “no plans” to divorce him.

Clearly, she had plans.

This week, it’s depressing but true that the news cycle has given us another woman who’s being loudly urged to pick up the phone to her lawyer.

Russell Brand has been married to Laura Gallacher (now Brand) for six years. They got together in 2015, and she has been largely credited, in that time, of “taming a bad boy". 

The man named “Shagger Of The Year” by the The Sun newspaper three years in a row (yes, in the noughties there was actually a prize for that), has made no secret of his sex addiction, suggesting that he had slept with more than 1000 women during its height. 


What he did keep secret was that not all of those encounters were considered consensual, and he is now facing allegations of sexual assault from four women. In his native UK, the allegations against him are receiving wall-to-wall media coverage as more and more ex-partners and colleagues are telling their troubling stories.

Laura Brand is pregnant with their third child. She and Russell live – and sell, via their Community lifestyle retreats – a bucolic country life. Their home is an oversized thatched cottage, surrounded by farmland. Laura writes mindful parenting books with daisies on the covers.

She has said absolutely nothing about the accusations against her husband – yet – and we can only imagine what is happening inside their home as the fall-out from the Sunday Times and Channel Four joint investigation into Brand’s alleged sexual assaults rains down around them.

The internet, obviously, would like her to leave him – and quick. There are many questions about “how long she can continue to stand by him?” and urges for her to “cut him dead”.

And perhaps she will, once the dust has settled and she’s secured her children’s safety and privacy. But even if Laura Brand does, it’s unlikely to be enough to convince the culture that she isn’t somehow complicit in excusing her husband’s alleged crimes. 

It’s a particular brand of misogyny that holds women responsible for the vile actions of the men in their lives. 


A sort of willful blindness to the complexity of abuse of all kinds, and a deliberate misunderstanding of what it means to be in a complicated relationship with an abusive man. Particularly one who claims to have changed. Maybe, even, that you were the one who changed him.

It's problematic to make assumptions about what’s happening inside the Brands’ house or marriage. But it’s not unreasonable to suppose that a woman confronted with what Brand is dealing with is going through one of two processes. Either: She entirely believes her husband’s version of events. She trusts him implicitly; she is invested in his narrative that he is the victim of opportunism or conspiracy, and she wants to preserve her family with the man she deeply believes is not who these women say he is.

Or: She’s a pregnant woman coming to terms with the fact she lives with a dangerous man who lied to her, wilfully harms women and is comfortable sending a company car to the school gate to collect a teenage lover (as one of his alleged victims says that he did, often).

Either of these situations leave her spinning in a world of hellish recalibration. Any woman who’s been in a relationship with a charismatic narcissist can tell you that in the process of extricating yourself, you will question every single thing about your life, your mind, your existence.

You know him. You’ve never met these other people, the ones he says are trying to destroy him. Who’s side are you on, anyway? 


Is black, white, as he told you? Is up, down? Who are you if you are not his?

What if he’s your provider? Your protector? The person your children depend on for their home, their world? 

Bijou Phillips took 11 days to sever ties with the father of her daughter once his fate was sealed. And it was too long for us. 

But let’s be clear. 

The people responsible for the pain inflicted on the brave women telling their stories are the men who hurt them.

Not their wives. Not their partners. Not even their deluded friends who are happy to go on record to say they are a “good man”. 

We have no idea what Laura Brand is planning on doing now the alleged actions of the bad man she loves have destroyed her family. We have no idea how long it might take her to decide. And it’s completely irrelevant.

Women are not responsible for the actions of bad men. Often, they are just the ones tasked with picking up the pieces when everything implodes.

Feature image: Getty, Canva, Simon Ford/Shutterstock.

Is your world thrown into chaos when your kids are sick? We want to hear from you. For your time, you’ll go in the running to win one of four $50 gift vouchers! 

Do you have children aged under 13 years? Take this survey now to go in the running to win one of four $50 gift vouchers for your time.