According to Chris, Bronson Norrish's ex-girlfriend blamed him for her deteriorating mental health, however, the producers knew the groom wasn’t solely to blame. In spite of this, after they were unable to reach an agreement with Vanessa, MAFS showrunners had no choice but to scrap hours of footage of the married couple and go back to the drawing board.
“She told producers she wanted to paint me in a bad light because I apparently gaslighted and manipulated her. But they said back to her, ‘We can’t paint a picture of a guy that hasn’t done anything wrong. He has been the most respectful, honest and gentle person throughout the whole process.’ She never showed signs she was struggling in front of me yet made it out like it was my fault because I wasn’t showing her affection.”
Meanwhile, the dad-of-two says he was battling his own demons, revealing the arduous filming schedule coupled with the intense animosity he felt towards his TV wife eventually took a serious toll on his mental health.
“I was broken. I had lost 9 kilograms and was smoking my heart out. I was in such a bad place,” he said through tears. “Vanessa did the best thing possible by finally ending it. I needed to go home. If I was there any longer, I don’t know what I could’ve been capable of doing to myself.”
Despite Chris saying she was over exaggerating her struggles, Vanessa has spoken extensively about her mental health, revealing during a radio interview on Hit FM’s Get Up With Krysti & Bodge that she found the process equally as difficult.
“I tend to suffer in silence, so I didn’t tell anyone anything until it got to the absolute boiling point for me,” she said. “Chris and his words absolutely destroyed me.”
While they've both been trying to navigate their way through the drama that's swamped them since leaving the experiment, Chris has no ill will towards Nine or his ex-wife.
“I don’t hold grudges towards the network and Vanessa. The show had extensive medical support available. But the end was just so toxic. I have been through some really tough stuff with my kids and even my sister said during filming that she’s never seen me that bad. I would never do it again.”
Interestingly, returning Married At First Sight star, Elizabeth Sobinoff, recently rejected accusations the network doesn't adequately look after the show’s contestants.
“It annoys me when you hear these people say there is no mental health support from the network. I just go, ‘really?’ because that is not my experience. People do weird things for weird reasons,” she told WHO exclusively.
WHO Online also reached out to Nine Network for comment. They responded with an official statement addressing how they help contestants who are struggling.
“Nine takes its obligations in respect to the health and wellbeing of the participants of this program extremely seriously. All participants have access to the show psychologist during filming, during broadcast and once the program has ended," the statement read.
"Nine has arranged an additional service for participants should they like or need further individual and confidential psychological support. This service gives participants access to psychologists who have been specifically engaged to support those involved in the program in relation to their experiences. This service is a dedicated helpline from which participants can also arrange face to face sessions and is an ongoing service available to them all after the series has ended.”
Call Lifeline on 131 114, visit www.lifeline.org.au/get-help/get-help-home, or call beyondblue on 1300 224 636. If you would like to talk to someone about mental health call Headspace on 1800 650 890. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.
If you or someone you know is affected by sexual assault or family violence, call the 1800RESPECT hotline or visit www.1800respect.org.au/. You can also call the Domestic Violence Hotline on 1800 656 463.