Irene Bedard's Story
Irene moved to Alaska in an attempt to flee a horrific domestic violence situation. For 17 years, she suffered abuse, both sexually and physically, at the hands of the one person she should have been able to trust implicitly, her husband. The years of abuse left not only her body, but also her spirit and mind, battered. The abuse had been so pervasive, her health began to decline, rapidly. Her doctor began tests to detect cancer, unaware of the abuse. As heinous as the physical and mental tolls were, they were not the only price my aunt had to pay.
Her abusive husband kept her under financial control, taking her earnings, and forbidding her to work in her career field, unless he specifically approved the project. This had a detrimental effect on an otherwise promising career. As I stated earlier, my aunt starred in two important productions highlighting the plight of Native Americans. She intended to use her celebrity to bring light to the rich and beautiful heritage of all Native Americans, and Alaskan Natives, in particular. However, her husband’s control and abuse made this impossible. She could not work with bruises on her skin, and his constant presence at her work sites made not only Irene, but also others in the cast and crew uneasy. This cost my aunt jobs. No one wanted to have her husband on the set, and he would not allow her to work without him being there. While the loss of income was financially devastating for my aunt, the loss of her platform to share her heritage with the world was even more so.
As in most domestic violence cases, not only did my aunt’s husband hurt her physically, and caused her to lose her career, he aliened from her from family, friends, and fans, her support system. He had to have total control over her and their child. It was because of her son, Quinn, that she did not leave. She felt she had to endure all of the abuse for his sake. If she left her abuser, he would follow her, and, she feared, use and possibly harm their son to force her to come back to him. She felt ashamed, embarrassed, humiliated, and powerless. It was only through an intervention by her family that she began to regain her spirit to defend herself, and make a better life for her son. She felt broken. But, with the love, encouragement, and support of her family, she felt there was hope for her and her son. With the help of her family, she moved to Alaska, where she could get treatment for her health, and counseling for herself and her son.
She filed for a domestic violence protective order, and for divorce.
Irene Bedard's Story
When she mustered the courage to leave the abusive situation only months ago, she fled with her son Quinn to her home state of Alaska where she had family, employment and the support to heal. The failure of her Alaskan lawyer to protect her rights opened the door for her abusive husband to file 49 motions in the Greene County, Ohio courts that forced her and her son back to Ohio where she has no employment, no money or family. Her son was returned to her abusive husband. Now she is a virtual prisoner in Ohio without money, as her husband has controlled her income, her career, and her life for 17 years.
While there are many agencies that help victims of domestic violence leave the dangerous situation, the judicial system then allows the abuser to continue to batter the victim in the courts. This “assault by lawyer” must stop. It is a travesty that Ohio courts would return her son to a person who has perpetrated domestic violence.
When Irene was forced to return to Ohio she wanted to keep this matter private, just as she had hidden the bruises, scars and broken bones from friends and family for so many years. Family members, who love her dearly, went public with her story to help draw attention to her ordeal. While Irene did not initially want this information out in the public, now that it is, she realizes that she can no longer hide the secret she has kept for so long and will be speaking out publicly when she is ready. Right now, she is focused on the courts and gaining back custody of her son.
Clearly nobody told me about this or it would've been public knowledge a lot sooner. But now people know. Let's hope this posting and others like it help. Publicity is a great tool for cutting through legal red tape and achieving justice.
Here's a thought: Since Disney is so closely associated with objectifying women as princesses, it could help Irene Bedard and other victims of domestic abuse. How about it, Disney? Care to help one of your "princesses" and undo some of the damage you've done?
For more on Bedard, see Irene Bedard's Current Projects and Irene Bedard at Flint Festival.