Former reality romance show contestant Aimee Collins says women are not safe on reality television programmes about romance and dating. Photo / MediaWorks
A reality show “bride” controversially paired with a man charged with domestic violence has slammed television networks for putting women in danger and perpetrating toxic masculinity through “despicable” dating programmes.
Married At First Sight entrant Aimee Collins is calling on networks to ditch dating and romance shows entirely, saying she believes they do nothing but create unhealthy and damaging attitudes towards women.
Her comments came after the Herald revealed Wayde Moore, a contestant on soon-to-air FBoy Island NZ, took advantage of a woman’s drunkenness to get her into bed then covered her mouth and nose to keep her quiet when she called for help.
Moore is one of 20 men vying for the attention of three women who must decide if they are “nice guys” or “Fboys” – a term for men who never intend a sexual encounter to involve a relationship or act as if entitled to sexual encounters.
It emerged last week that the 26-year-old appeared in court last year charged with suffocating a woman he admitted to police he lured to his home because she was drunk and he hoped to have sex with her.
Collins told the Herald she was “shocked” when she learned about Moore, but not surprised.
“I can’t believe this is still happening,” she said.
“In a way, I’ve moved past the MAFS incident but seeing this happen makes my blood boil.
Collins has not spoken publicly in three years about reality television but said she could not keep silent after the story broke at the weekend.
“It is disgusting, it’s just gross.
“My motivation in speaking out is to support other women out there who have been victims in these kinds of situations – but also to expose the fact that in these kinds of reality shows they [television networks] are not keeping women safe at all.”
Collins believed it was “savage exploitation” of the contestants
In 2019 Collins was selected as a bride on the “experiment” show that matches couples who marry without meeting or knowing anything about each other.
Collins was paired with Christchurch-raised Chris Mansfield but decided to leave the show soon after filming their “wedding” and travelling to Fiji for their “honeymoon”.
It then emerged Mansfield had been charged with domestic violence in the USA and had been before the courts in New Zealand for another assault.
For legal reasons Collins cannot speak specifically about her own experience on MAFS with Mansfield.
But at the time friends told the Herald that she raised concerns with producers about his behaviour early into the process.
“She said he was constantly wanting to hold hands and touch her and she had to sit him down and say ‘can we slow it down’ … she’d only just met him and she was uncomfortable,” one friend said.
“She was really concerned … she doesn’t cry very easily and she was ringing me bawling her eyes out.”
The friend said Collins had told her in multiple phone calls that she “felt unsafe” and that she had told producers Mansfield’s behaviour was “irrational and disrespectful”.
Mansfield was removed from the show entirely after his ex Candace Casady revealed allegations of domestic violence.
Casady claimed he “almost killed me a couple of times [through] strangling” before he was arrested on a domestic violence charge on May 4, 2009.
Mansfield pleaded not guilty and was released on bail – but the Herald understands that he was taken into custody by US immigration services and sent home to New Zealand.
MediaWorks said they were not aware of the allegations against Mansfield until they emerged in the media.
They were also unaware that in February 2009 Mansfield was granted diversion in the Christchurch District Court on a charge of assault.
The network said Ministry of Justice criminal conviction histories were checked for contestants – but that only showed New Zealand offending and matters where diversion is granted are not listed.
Collins is now in a healthy and happy relationship and has a young child.
She is currently working as a student nurse and hoped to focus her career in women-centred healthcare, saying after MAFS she had become “more focused on how I can give back or advocate for women in New Zealand”.
She urged people to “stay away” from any dating or romance show.
“As a mother to a little girl I feel more than ever it is my duty now to speak out and against this, and to warn others against going on any shows involving dating antics,” she said.
“Those shows are for pure entertainment – not in favour of the cast.
“I believe they incite toxic behaviour towards women…these shows encourage and promote our already shocking stats of binge drinking and toxic behaviour.
“I think they are just despicable and it’s just gross.”
Collins reached out to the woman who went to police about Moore and was supporting her.
She said in her view he never should have been accepted on to the show, regardless of the outcome at court.
She said it had “retraumatised” the woman and “she should never have been put in that position” in the name of “entertainment”.
“These TV networks have a lot to answer for… they shouldn’t be promoting stuff like this.”
The woman at the centre of Moore’s criminal case, who has name suppression, told the Herald on Sunday that TVNZ should drop the show because she believes it glorifies behaviour that puts women at risk.
She said at the least Moore should be dropped from the show and all its marketing material.
She believed it didn’t promote “the changes we need to make” but rather promoted negative sexual activity.
The woman complained to TVNZ on Tuesday and on Friday received a message saying someone would be “having a call with you in a few days” which, she said, included the words “looking forward to chatting”.
“I’m not looking forward to chatting,” she said. “It’s not a ‘chat’ – it’s a serious situation.”
Moore told the Herald he did not mention the case to Warner Bros because he had not been convicted.
His criminal record check produced a clean slate.
“It was something that was dealt with and was over. I thought there was no need to mention it to Warner Bros or to anyone.”
A spokeswoman for TVNZ said the broadcaster and Warner Bros International Television Production “take allegations of this nature extremely seriously”.
She said Warner Bros had carried out the psychological assessments and Ministry of Justice checks TVNZ required for contestants on shows like FBoy Island NZ. She said casting processes were now being reviewed.
“We are working with WBITVP to ensure that their casting processes are as robust as possible, and will be reviewing these allegations over the coming days.”
SEXUAL ABUSE – DO YOU NEED HELP?
If you’re in danger now:
• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you.
• Run outside and head for where there are other people.
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.
• Take the children with you.
• Don’t stop to get anything else.
• If you are being abused, remember it’s not your fault. Violence is never okay
Where to go for help or more information:
• Shine, free national helpline 9am-11pm every day – 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• Women’s Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 – 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and middle eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• It’s Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz