THE MOTHER of a woman feared missing in Tunisia said she is “no longer my daughter” after deciding to stay with the man she went there to divorce.

Melissa Everest’s family grew frantic after she missed her flight home on July 14 and did not make contact, but over the weekend she called to say she was safe and would be staying with her Tunisian husband of 11 months, 23-year-old Adem Brina Harrabi.

Yesterday her mother Maria Everest, 63, told the Argus: “As far as I’m concerned Melissa is not my daughter any more, I’m sorry.

"All she needed to do was call us and tell us she was okay. Why didn’t she make that call?”

Maria, who lives in Sompting, added: “She had disgraced this family. She can do what she wants with her life as long as she leaves us alone to rebuild our lives.”

Melissa denied her mother’s claims that Mr Harrabi was only with her to get a UK visa.

She said “We’re going to stay together and stay married.

“I can’t take my kids out of education I won’t do that, therefore Adem’s going to have to leave his family and come to the UK, as much as he doesn’t to do that.

“We will appeal for a visa - because I’m insisting.”

Melissa said she would return home soon, saying her husband’s family were saving up the money for a flight after her bank card was registered stolen.

She told The Argus that she had “nothing to say” to her mother, after hearing that Maria tore up Melissa’s son’s passport after overhearing a phone conversation in which Melissa discussed bringing the boys on a holiday to Tunisia.

She said of members of her family: “They’ve all been lying to me, making him out to be a bad person when they’re the ones stabbing me in the back.”

She told the Argus that her first call to her sons Ethan, 16, and Nico, 12, actually took place “several days ago”, raising the prospect that some family members had heard from Melissa while others were appealing to the press concerned for her safety.

Melissa said that the photograph of her and Adem which the Argus published on Saturday, which sources reported had been taken on Thursday, was actually more than a year old.


Opinion by Ericka Waller - Columnist of the Year

SO LOCAL lass Melissa is safe and well, partying it up in Tunisia, while her family are at home, looking after her children, worried sick about her welfare.

The 40-year-old flew out to divorce 23-year-old Adem Brins Harrabi, but they ended reconciling instead and seem to be enjoying a second honeymoon, no doubt thanks to her credit card.

Melissa met Adem on holiday in 2014. He told her she was special, beautiful. She believed him, no doubt feeling like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis.

So, she started sending him over money. Then his family started making requests too, and it all started to go wrong, as anyone could have predicted. As the relationship crumbled Melissa, her family said, confessed that her new husband had shoved her.

Since reconciling she has apparently changed her story however, claiming she only said it to make an excuse for separating. “Adem would never hurt me,” she said.

Oh but my darling he will.

This is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that lust makes people lose all logic. Shirley Valentine made the whole thing seem so romantic, when really it is far from it.

So what makes a dedicated mother, sister, daughter and friend abandon all sense and rationality to flee abroad and act like a teenager?

The dangerous mix of being a lonely single parent on the wrong side of 40, and a handsome young man calling you attractive of course.

I’m not being flippant. Attention is a powerful head-turner, I know. I took my eight-week-old miniature dachshund to a car boot sale on Sunday morning and everyone was all over me. It went straight to my head. Luckily, it was the dog people were lusting after, not me.

Lust addles the brain, replacing reason with irrationality, sense with sensations. It comes in a pretty package, but if lust were a drug it would be heroin, addictive, and often dirty. People often end up losing everything for a cheap fix.

It’s easy to read Melissa’s story and despair of her terrible lack of judgement but she is under the influence of a powerful elixir.

As her sister says: “This is so unlike her. I think she has been manipulated, or coerced, or held against her will. Her boys are all she has and she is all they have. She would never have just left them without telling them she is OK.”

In the film, bored housewife Valentine runs away and rediscovers the joy of life.

But this is not film, and Melissa and Adem are not going to live happily ever after.

Shirley did not have two struggling sons back at home, desperately searching the internet for news of their mother and finding the photos of her in a nightclub and the slurs against her.

How must they feel?

It’s possible they will interpret Melissa’s actions as their fault. This inevitably doomed dalliance has changed their lives forever. They have been thrust into the spotlight alongside her, as ‘the boys whose mother ran off and left for a fling’.

And try as they might, Melissa’s family cannot protect them. They are taking shifts looking after the boys, but they are struggling to cope.

And when she comes home to lick her wounds, which inevitably she must, instead of being sympathetic and helping her to get back on her feet, she will be scorned. While on one hand she deserves this, it will not help her family, who have already been put through hell.

I say stick to chocolate, chick-lit, sausage dog puppies, and films with Ryan Gosling in. Far safer.