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Artist statement
Gwendolyn C Skaggs

I was born in the middle of America in the middle class of a carpenter and an artist/activist/homemaker. After coming into my own skin I left my roots. I desired unfamiliar landscapes and notions and made myself at home in Southern California, Chicago, and Baltimore. In 2001 I made my way to New York. I have studied architectural technology, violin making, restoration, and repair, and art preservation (amongst many other things). In December of 2016 life took me to Kenosha Wisconsin, where I became an active participant in bringing the racial disparities and anti-racism to the forefront of daily life, through conversations and holding those who perpetuate racism accountable. #silenceisviolence. In 2019 I moved back to New York where I find home in Brooklyn.

In 2020 I had a life altering experience, one that left me keenly and painfully aware of the struggles and challenges that surround and exist within domestic violence, also identified as intimate partner violence. My life was hijacked by a highly manipulative, controlling, violent man: A Mirror of Dread. I was forced to learn about coercive control, narcissistic abuse; sociopathy, psychopathy and narcissistic personality disorder. This awareness reshaped my lens once again, seeing clearly the injustices towards women, gender based violence, cultural violence, misogyny, bigotry, let alone intersectionality and a judicial system that entangles both victim and those accused of crimes in its grip, the strength based on class, race, and a system not educated on the factors that contribute to domestic violence, the dynamics of the cycle of abuse, and coercive control.
Links here: @I'M FREE TO BE provides a comprehensive understanding of issues regarding domestic violence.

The section OOP (Order Of Peace), is the beginning stages of journaling the release of trauma. The drawings are free of critical thinking. Only after I return to them later, with new insight, do I look at them subjectively. Sometimes reworking them, if ever so slightly, or not. Enhancing a once subconscious thought, bringing it to significance. I allow and invite the mediums influence on the pages that precede, and follow, the current entry. I akin this to working with both history and the future, coming to terms, and finding peace.

My artwork tip-toes around the fragility of balancing opposing forces; politics and religion, desire and indifference, instinct and reason, fine art and handiwork. I am not prolific, and work on the demands of my heart and mind with the mindset of the carpenter, craftsman, activist, and fine artist.

I am the founder of SUGAR, established in 2009 and bugartnyc, established in 2019. Based in installation art SUGAR thrives on the dialogue created between a group of artworks by various artists, creating the space and environment to stimulate a notion outside of the individual artworks intent, producing a work of art in and of itself. #conceptualart

I share the truth to save my life, ensure my safety, advocating for myself and others of violence and coercive control. The perpetrator is violent and dangerous. Know the 🚩🚩🚩 I was granted a 5 year Order Of Protection against the man who abused me: A Mirror of Dread is an artwork rooted in my experience. ACCOUNTABILITY IS NOT REVENGE, IT IS PREVENTION

A victim of violence must be educated on the abuse in order to know who and what their abuser is, so they, the victim, can secure their safety and ensure their wellbeing, and begin the healing journey. Victims must seek CPTSD and PTSD recovery. They do not simply "move on". They must rewire and unfold the trauma that the brain and body endured and accommodated for survival. The impact is life altering. Unpacking and sorting this physiology is not linear, there are many high peaks and very low valleys. It takes professionals who deal in Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Coercive Control, Narcissistic/Sociopathic/Psychopathic Abuse recovery, Trauma Recovery for the victim to rebuild their life, find a new "normal". Intimate Partner Violence is an assault on the victims entire being. It should be seen as the crime that it is, as well as establishing coercive control as violence. Recovering from IPV takes time, no matter the time span of the abuse.

Because even if domestic violence isn’t happening to you, or near you—or by you—it affects everyone in some way because it affects society. But that also means that everyone has the power to help stop it. Not just in the moment, but in all the moments we perpetuate the silences, misunderstandings, or societal norms that keep it going. When we stop domestic violence, we enable all women, men, and children to fully participate in society and be their best selves. That’s why it’s up to all of us to drive the culture change that will make domestic violence unacceptable.

How Narcissists Use DARVO to Escape Accountability
DARVO is an acronym for Deny, Attack, Reverse, Victim and Offender. It is a defense mechanism used by manipulators to evade accountability for the abuse they inflict on others. It is a blame-shifting tactic used for gaslighting in the context of emotional abuse.

The DARVO tactic serves many purposes.
DARVO is a smokescreen used by narcissists, psychopaths or other manipulators to conceal the truth of their behavior.
DARVO enables the narcissist, psychopath or other manipulator to control how others perceive the target and the conflict.
DARVO often stuns the targeted person into confusion and silence.

Know the red flags of coercive control, a narcissist, sociopath, psychopath:
Knowledge Is Power

In case it isn't clear why we must highlight coercive control: Coercive control is the foundation of most domestic abuse AND the cause of most femicide and filicide. Laws are slowing being established to include coercive control as domestic abuse. If you or anyone you know is experiencing intimate partner violence there is help. The National Domestic Violence Hotline recognizes narcissistic abuse and trauma and is available 24/7 in more than 200 languages. Call 1-800-799-7233 to talk with an advocate.

Important articles:
Coercive control
Post-Separation Control

Concerning behaviors:
"Homicide detectives and criminologists identified a group of behaviors displayed by almost all the killers in the weeks, months and years before every intimate partner murder.

Research findings reveal that far from being random or unpredictable, intimate partner homicides are now recognised as the most predictable type of murder and are therefore the most preventable.

Coercive control is a form of intimate terrorism and must be criminalized. Jess Hill

In 2015, the UK parliament made coercive and controlling behaviors a crime in an effort to protect the lives of victims and their children.

The Home Office gave police and prosecutors in Britain a checklist of the specific behaviors that were criminalized to make clear what behaviors were recognized as crimes.

The list is not exhaustive but it provides clear guidance about the most common types of behavior that are harmful and that can lead to a risk of homicide.

Most victims are not aware they are being coercively controlled because, especially at first, the behavior is presented as caring, protective and loving, and often does not include physical injury.

The behaviors are all employed strategically by offenders to reduce the victim’s individual freedom, deprive them of basic needs, demean them, surveil their movements and associates, threaten harm and cause actual harm.

Coercive behaviors may appear benign to friends and even police, but the victim will understand the subliminal message. For example, Hannah Clarke’s killer indicated he was about to murder her when he wrote a text message a few days before the murders that said: “I’m finishing your game, I don’t want to play anymore.”

The exact definition of coercive control in Queensland law is yet to be determined and will need to take into account cultural differences between here and the UK. But the list of behaviors identified by the UK Home Office is (I've made items that match my abuse bold):

- isolating a person from their friends and family;
- depriving them of their basic needs;
- monitoring their time;
- monitoring a person via online communication tools or using spyware;
- taking control over aspects of their everyday life, such as where they can go, who they can see, what they can wear and when they can sleep;
- depriving them of access to support services, such as specialist support or medical services;
- repeatedly putting them down by statements such as telling them they are worthless;
- enforcing rules and activities that humiliate, degrade or dehumanize the victim;
- forcing the victim to take part in criminal activity such as shoplifting, neglect or abuse of children to encourage self-blame and prevent disclosure to authorities;
- financial abuse including control of finances, such as only allowing a person a punitive allowance;
- threats to hurt or kill;
- threats to a child;
- threats to reveal or publish private information (eg threatening to “out” someone);
- assault;
- criminal damage (such as destruction of household goods);
- rape;
- preventing a person from having access to transport or from working.

The dozens of victims of coercive control who I have interviewed in the past two years have been shocked to realize that they were not alone in experiencing the same group of harmful behaviors.

Almost all these victims experienced almost all of the above behaviors, indicating they were suffering a very high level of coercion and control."

Control tactics, such as using the legal system to repeatedly drag women through expensive litigation in the Family Court or launching a defamation lawsuit, or smear campaign, in a brazen attempt to silence or discredit their partner's words, and preserve their own reputation, is rife. Abusers are highly adept at reversing the victim and aggressor roles.

Narcissistic Abuse: Turns out, narcissists are more likely to post revenge porn online.

"Lead researcher Dr. Afroditi Pina from the University's School of Psychology and her colleagues suggest revenge porn perpetrators have a distinct personality profile that makes them more likely to commit the heinous crime. The research team found a positive correlation between the greater likelihood to engage in revenge porn and displaying higher levels of the "Dark Triad" psychological characteristics. The "Dark Triad" focuses on three personality traits: narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy; "dark" eludes to the person possessing these traits as having malevolent qualities. Impulsivity and lack of empathy were the most strongly tied to the likelihood someone would commit the crime.

People with these personality traits are also more likely to want to stay friends after a breakup, but for personal gain. Specifically, those who scored high for narcissism were more likely to choose "practicality and the chance of hooking up" as reasons for prolonging a former romantic relationship. Unsurprisingly, these people have trouble letting go, and seek revenge to further exert their power and control over their victims."

Holding an abuser accountable can be dangerous

A must read:Dr. Jane Monckton-Smith, The author and professor of public protection on the red flags of coercive control and how courts should change to give abuse victims an equal voice.

(The items in bold apply to my experience)
The 8 Stages of Homicide — how it plays out.

"To conduct her study, Dr Jane Monckton Smith looked at all cases on the Counting Dead Women website where the woman had had a relationship with the perpetrator - as well as several extra cases such as those of male victims killed by their male partners.

The eight steps she discovered in almost all of the 372 killings she studied were (The steps that match my abuser are in bold):

In her studies Dr. Jane Monckton-Smith found a pattern among 372 killings she studied. All 372 were linked to the following 8 stages:
- The perpetrator had a previous history of stalking or abuse.
- The relationship immediately followed a whirlwind romance (also known as love-bombing) — The abuser wants to draw you in quickly before you realize what they’re really about.
- The perpetrator quickly established a dominance dynamic to maintain control over their partner.
- A trigger event occurred: something prompted the perpetrator to feel a loss of control. The victim might have ended the relationship, begun a new one, or the perpetrator got into financial difficulty. - The perpetrator feels ownership of the victim and cannot accept that they have moved on or that they are not in control.
- Escalation: Control tactics increase notably as things escalate. At this stage, the perpetrator may begin to stalk the victim or threaten suicide as means of manipulating them back into the relationship.
- A change in approach: The perpetrator now decides to move on from previous attempts at winning back the victim. They have now mentally progressed to thoughts of either revenge or killing their former partner.
- Planning: They begin to plot ways of getting the victim alone. They are now purchasing weapons and other paraphernalia to carry out their crimes.
- Homicide: The victim is murdered by their partner. Children and pets may also be killed too. The perpetrator feels entitled to take the victim’s life. The victim is seen as nothing more than a possession. The perpetrator could also take their own life, too."

Knowledge Is Power