Marie Baillargeon is a state certified community Advocate for women and children of Domestic Violence. She is a volunteer for NEWS (Napa Emergency Women's Services), serves on the Board of Directors for the University of San Francisco Alumni Association and Scholarship Program, and the Founder of Baillargeon Connect, a Media and Public/Community Relations company. She is a regular contributor of her time and resources to nonprofit agencies and individuals who seek change for the better in the world. As the single parent of two young children, Ms Baillargeon is raising them as healthy, happy, and contributing citizens of our future.Event video by: http://repertoireproductions.com/
My story today reflects my experience emerging from a most challenging time of my life and an extremely personal one, but one that needs to be shared. The experience launched what I call the three I’s of intuition, intellect and inspiration. But we need to go back a bit to understand the development of my three I’s and where I come from and why it began.
Beginning with my Korean mother and her positively powerful influences on me as a mother and as a woman. I called her my pillar of strength and matriarch. Respect for her was undeniable. She was a woman of loyalty and honor. She raised all six of us while my father faithfully served our country in the Air Force. And while his career took him to far away places she grounded our family in the heart of the Midwest. This Midwestern town boasted a mere population of 700, and my four older brothers and younger sister added to this number.
There was the Air Force and then there was a force of another kind; my mother. She wasn’t just a beautiful face. She had tremendous wisdom, courage, tenacity and self-sufficiency truly set her apart. She was a powerful, one-woman show, and while I knew her well as my mother, I wanted to learn more about her so I conducted an oral history project with her, and I was struck by her personal story and one in particular during the Korean War. And it was life saving.
So the woman had insight and courage to protect. The loaded rifle was pointed at her chest and she knew who and what stood primed outside that door, as well as their intent to kill. And without a word, she was the one who got up, walked across the room and unlatched the door. She stood eye-to-eye with the enemy and saved the lives of those in the room, including her own in that single moment, using her intuition.
If my mother were alive today, her humble nature would not appreciate my sharing her story, however her dignity and belief in humanity would understand. As is cultural she was extremely private and as her daughter so am I. However, I experienced a paradigm shift. I’m less private in my maturing years and less of a Mona Lisa holding that silent smile. I remain discretionary, but more willing to open up and share where I find it necessary – especially for powerful purpose and cause. I learned that opening up and sharing with others when in need, is also humanity.
During my marriage, because I was too private and too proud to share with those close to me and ask for help, this led to an oppressive and internal silence and propagated a breeding ground for abuse. I’m referring to domestic violence.
So today is kind of like my coming out and while many may not have suspected it. In the sub-culture of domestic violence, it is simply called ‘DV’. It is the most under-reported crime in the United States. Why? Because of the shame victims feel or absolute fear inflicted upon them, or the reoccurring words ‘no one will believe you.’
DV is all about power and control. The persistent focus of an abuser. DV is so much more than the physical abuse of pushing, slapping or punching. And while the physical attacks are part of the arsenal used to gain dominance over their victims, DV also includes emotional trauma and verbal abuse. Emotional drama and trauma of deception, manipulation, degradation, humiliation, isolation and fear.
Ironically, the verbal and emotional attacks are actually how the abuser feels about themselves – it is known as ‘projection.’ Regardless, the emotional and verbal attacks eventually wear down and tear down even the most successful, intelligent and independent human beings. I have learned that most of the public and our leaders are undereducated on the behaviors and stigmas surrounding Domestic Violence, societal and judicial treatment of victims, psychology of the abusers, and subsequent failure to protect victims or hold perpetrators accountable.
This lack of both a fundamental education and proactive leadership leads to that percentage of most under-reported crime, especially in white-collar demographics. Regardless the experience and survival of DV does not define me or my children. Nor do I have any regrets, because in the end I have two perfect reasons to smile and be most proud. I’m honored to be raising my two beautiful children, my hope for the future and our next generation of happy, healthy, contributing members of our society.
I nurture their innate strengths. My twelve year old son, so centered, calm, patient and introspective, and proud as he carries on the Korean tradition as a black belt. My seven year old daughter named for wisdom after my mother. So out of the gate, fearless, independent and eager. Both my children carry characteristics of my mother and I and already exhibiting their three I’s. I continue to advocate diligently to ensure their well-being and safety to end the DV cycle. And it began by simply telling someone.
So whether as a mother, woman, friend or advocate, I would be remiss to not share what I’ve learned to educate and empower others. DV is not just about the journey, it is about the results of being alive, taking back your power and connecting the dots of intuition, intellect and inspiration.
Intuition is defined as instinct or innate behavior. Everyone has the power of intuition. You have it. Use it. Don’t ignore it. We can apply intuition in all chapters of our lives. It’s that feeling in the pit of your stomach, in your gut. We’ve all said it at one point of our lives – ‘I had that gut feeling’ – well that’s where it starts. And then it travels upward through your heart and soul and lands in your head, connecting with your intellect.
In my chapter of DV, I followed my intuition for nearly a year avoiding my pursuers advances. His advantage was having consistent access to me – he was a new colleague. But as is with abusive personalities, he disrespected my boundaries. He was persistent and convincing. And I eventually believed his history and stories.
Intuition however can also be interrupted when you may be vulnerable. That is, your core instincts are altered. For example, at the same time my abuser entered my life, I was grieving the loss of my brother. DV abusers have a cascade of methods to manipulate themselves into your life and attach. Experiences of intuition are two fold depending on whether or not intuition is used, extreme results are either tragic or triumphant. Intuition is innate. A natural component of your sense of self. Trusting your intuition is trusting yourself.
Intellect is defined as the power of knowing as distinguished from the power to feel and to will. The capacity for knowledge, for rationale or intelligent thought – especially when highly developed. So intellect is information, education and then how to apply this knowledge. We exercise our intellect every day, giving our brain a good work out and keeping it strong. DV is in need of an intellectual call to action. A fundamental education on the warning signs is critical and can help women to evaluate when entering personal relationships. Or we, as community members and citizens, can be proactive in helping other women and children trapped in the cycle.
It is important to understand the motives and actions of the perpetrators, their target to seek dominance and control. Stats reveal that perpetrators learn the cycle as children. Research also conveys that 65% of all abusers also abuse children. And recent studies are delving into the undeniable effects of DV on children. Five in seven children are exposed to the physical and emotional wrath of DV. So let’s exercise our intellect and review the warning signs:
Number one – a push for quick involvement. They come on very strong claiming they’ve never felt like anyone has ever loved them like this before, and they pressure the woman for an exclusive commitment almost immediately.
Two – jealousy. Excessively possessive. Calls constantly or visits unexpectedly. Prevents you from going to work because you might meet someone.
Three – controlling. Interrogates you intensely – especially if you’re late. Who have you talked to? Where have you been? Keeps all the money. Insists that you ask permission to go anywhere or do anything.
Four – unrealistic expectations. Expects you to be the perfect woman and meet his every need.
Five – isolation. Tries to cut you off from family and friends – your supporters and say that they’re causing trouble. They will deprive you of a phone or a car, or even prevent you from holding a job.
Six – blames others for problems or mistakes. It’s always someone else’s fault if anything goes wrong.
Seven – makes everyone else responsible for his feelings. Abuser says ‘you make me angry’ instead of ‘I am angry’ or ‘you’re hurting me by not doing what I’m telling you.’ Less obvious and manipulative ‘you make me happy.’
Eight – hypersensitivity. Is easily insulted claiming that his feelings are hurt when he’s really mad. And he’ll rant about the injustice of things that are really just a part of life.
Nine – cruelty to animals and children. Kills or punishes animals and then expects children to do things that are far beyond their ability or may tease them until they cry.
Ten – playful use of force during sex. Enjoys throwing you down or holding you against your will.
Eleven – verbal abuse. Constantly criticizes. Says you’re stupid, says hurtful things, degrades, and then they also can work at sleep deprivation, keeping you awake with relentless verbal abuse.
Twelve – rigid sex rules. Expects you to serve, obey and remain at home.
Thirteen – sudden mood swings. Switches from sweet loving to explosively violent in minutes.
Fourteen – past battering. There’s a history. Admits hitting women in the past but says they made him do it or they brought the situation on.
Fifteen- threats of violence. They make statements like ‘I’ll break your neck’, ‘I’ll kill you’, ‘I’ll get you’. And they dismiss it as a joke saying ‘everybody talks that way.’
You should know that when I originally read this Dear Abbey article it was 1999 within two years of my marriage and my intellect immediately connected with these experiences, but I would also add two other warning signs:
Number sixteen – connection between alcoholism and DV. Abusers have a history of self-medicating. Their substance abuse – usually alcohol – protects their own psychology to remain in denial of their disease, and subsequently deny DV incidents, behaviors and avoid accountability.
Seventeen – white-collar abusers. They’ve been around, but under the radar. It does not matter their level of education, title or where they come from. These perpetrators are less obvious, masking their dysfunction behind professional and respectful titles and careers. They can be highly public figures or leaders. This makes them even more dangerous as they will do anything to conceal or project the abuse. They can convince many and talk their way out with you, community, friends, family, law-enforcement. I liken them to the Houdinis of domestic violence.
Last months video-gone-viral of Judge William Adams, a Texas family law judge, is a prime example. As a judge, he is a highly educated community member, but hypocritically has a powerful position of ruling on family law, including DV cases. His daughter exposed him physically abusing her and also linked him as a drinker. Abusers can be high-functioning, and maintain it for pockets of time publicly, however as presented in this case and others they struggle in their own internal and daily war of addiction, anger and violence. This leads to projection of their deep-seated insecurities and lack of self-respect that manifest in attacks toward their victims behind closed doors.
Systematically, the rages are then followed by the honeymoon stage. The I’m sorry, it won’t happen again, I love you, here are flowers, I’ll change. But it’s just another cycle to get the victims back. It’s short lived. And in the end, unless the abuser hits rock bottom or gets professional help and is held accountable, they are set free to repeat the cycle with you or in their next relationships. There is a pattern.
So using your intellect is also to understand that you cannot change your abuser. It’s up to them to want to make change and then get the help. There is much help available for them. So no matter how supportive, calm, loving and patient you are, these points and your intellect indicate your relationship is or has escalated in the cycle of domestic violence and you are not crazy as they project. They are projecting their own internal chaos, anger and confusion. And when I help women, I remind them, you cannot rationalize with an irrational person. So capitalize on your intellect. Remove yourself and your loved ones. Go to a shelter, tell a friend. Your silence enables the abuse. Others may close the door on you. Those are just enablers. Keep moving forward.
Your second “I” is your intellect. This is your knowledge, your voice of reason and knowledge is power. Your intellect is powerful.
So inspiration is defined as one that moves the intellect or emotions or prompts actions or divine influence or guidance directed on the mind and soul of man, or woman. Inspiration is your third “I”. It comes from within yourself, connected to your heart and soul. Life is about timing. And so is inspiration. It manifests in any number of ways. It can come from profound and unselfish love, like the love I have for my children and the legacy of my mother. It can be conceived in our darkest moments and launched in the depths of our challenges. It can come from appreciation from all the positives in our life. Inspiration emerges while embracing your strengths. It is your spirit to move forward; to proactively create change for whatever your reason. Inspiration has everything to do with you and how it can set you free. Our power of intuition, intellect and inspiration are there all along, so connect with it, use it. It’s within each of us to lead, renew and nourish, everyday or when needed the most.
U.S. Vice President Spiro Agnew questions the civic ethics that underlie television news coverage. Harking back to the broadcast of President Nixon's "Silent Majority" address, he lambasts the networks for their instant commentaries and "querulous criticism."0 people like this