The Midsters Podcast - Friendship & Midlife

19. Strong Women, Domestic Abuse and Cultural Spillover Theory

September 19, 2022
The Midsters Podcast - Friendship & Midlife
19. Strong Women, Domestic Abuse and Cultural Spillover Theory
Show Notes Transcript

We welcome Colette Durst to the podcast this week.  Hear Colette's story of Domestic Abuse and she shares her journey from being a young mother and wife and working through law school to living in an escalating environment of domestic abuse all while claiming the corporate ladder. 

After 9/11 Colette's spouse was activated as a reservist and went over to Iraq and she felt that was the turning point in her marriage.

Learn about Cultural Spillover Theory and how that and PTSD may have played a major role to the escalating abuse that was happening. And how these things may have played a role that led to adultery, excessive drinking, personality changes, violence, reckless financial decisions, secretly purchasing weapons, and abandonment.

During this rapid escalation, Colette remained silent from telling her friends and family. As so many women remain silent out of fear and shame and they don't seek out help. While Colette did try and get help from the military, things seem to fall through the cracks and no one stepped forward to help her or her family.

Colette decided recently to write a LinkedIn Article that eluded to her domestic abuse experience of "bringing the war home".  This article really spoke to many other successful women that reached out and acknowledged they too are struggling.

Our message to our listeners is when women come together and support each other we are stronger! If you are in a Domestic Abuse situation safely reach out for help.  If you suspect a loved one could be in a Domestic Abuse situation encourage them to reach out for help.

National Domestic Violence Hotline.  1.800.799 SAFE (7233)  Text "START" to 88788  www.thehotline.org  has resources and live chat sessions available

Obsession's
Tish - White Cowboy Boots
Ellen - HBO Max series The Hacks

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Tish Woods:

Welcome back to the Midsters Podcast. I am Tish with my co host, Ellen and special guests Colette Durst. Today we're going to be talking about the crisis of domestic violence. When our guest had posted an article in LinkedIn about her personal story of domestic abuse, she had no idea what the reaction would be. When you make yourself so vulnerable. You never know how people are going to react. But Colette move bravely forward and what she found out may surprise you.

Ellen Gustafson:

That's right. And many of us may not know but one in three women and one in four men in the US will experience some form of physical violence by an intimate partner, Colette is going to share her own personal story from victim to vice president of a fortune 500 company. And we are going to dispel the myth that strong women cannot be victims of domestic abuse. But before we get to Colette story, and how her peers reacted to that LinkedIn article, let's talk about our obsessions. Tish What do you got for me this week.

Tish Woods:

So my obsession this week is white cowboy boots. So one of the big fashion trends coming up in the fall are our cowboy boots. And I just had to do it, I had to pull the trigger and get these white cowboy boots. And I wore them with this rust colored dress. And it was kind of tattered at the ends and stuff like that. And I went to a thing with a bunch of friends to here a good really good friends band. And they were playing and I got so many compliments on these white boots. Wow, these are fabulous. And you know what the reasonable and I'm going to tell you go out and purchase something fun and fabulous this fall like some white cowboy boots.

Ellen Gustafson:

Now did you wear these on your recent trip to the Big D down in Texas

Tish Woods:

I didn't have them before Dallas, I got them after Dallas. And and I wish I had them in Dallas because you you know, they embrace the cowboy hat and the cowboy boots down there. It's all a thing. But it is really a trend right now. And it's an inexpensive, so we're going to post a very inexpensive pair of boots. So it's not a huge, huge investment you have to make. And let me tell you, it's just fun. And I had such a good reaction to wearing them. So I encourage. Sounds fun. What about you, Ellen, what is your obsession this week?

Ellen Gustafson:

Well, my obsession is in a totally different direction. But I just was on a long haul flight and one of my kids recommend to the show called Hacks. I'm not sure have you heard of this show? I haven't heard of this one. I hadn't heard of it. But Jean smart back from the Designing Women in our days, the actress, she stars in it and she's won a couple Emmys and let me tell you, I bindged this show. I mean for hours on this plane ride, and it is amazing. It's an HBO Max show. And it's about a young comedian writer who's blown up her career. She has to go work for this older woman our age. Um, Deborah Vance, a legendary Las Vegas stand up comedy diva. It kind of made me think of Joan Rivers a little bit. And it's really about their relationship. It is Laugh Out Loud comedy. It's drama. It's just amazing. I can't recommend it enough. So Hacks everybody, HBO max.

Tish Woods:

Love it. I gotta check that one out. Yeah. Okay, well, Colette we are so honored to have you here to share your story. And just to let you all know, Colette is another one of our amazing Trinity College tribe that we always talk about. And I'm just excited to hear it. And again, it's a difficult topic. Okay, domestic abuse. And we've talked extensively, Colette about, you know, I think people's perception of what the face of domestic abuse looks like. And we're here kind of to dispel that myth, and to hopefully encourage women to step forward and seek out help, because strong, successful women can be suffering from domestic abuse. And Colette took a very brave step in exposing herself on this LinkedIn article, and we're gonna get into that too. But thank you, thank you for doing that. Thank you for taking that brave step and you didn't know what was going to happen and but before we kind of get started into that, I want our listeners to hear a little background. So after college, kind of what was your story, what was your journey?

Colette Durst:

Yeah, thank you. And thank you both for inviting me today. So I always wanted to become an attorney. But I came from a low income family. My mother is a widow working for the church, and she had four kids to raise. So I never thought I could be an attorney. And quite honestly, I also had people telling me I'm too nice to be an attorney. I'm too empathetic. So I decided to become a paralegal after law school. We after sorry, undergrad, and I started as a paralegal in a district attorney's office. And then when my then husband got stationed in Quantico, I got a job with a paralegal placement company. It was a temp to perm job, and an intellectual property law firm. I started to do trademark work, and I loved it. It was really interesting. I then looked at law school again, and found out you could go at night. And I did that. And it took me four and a half years, because I didn't do summers. Long, brutal, but I'm glad I did it. And I worked full time as a paralegal during the day. So working as a paralegal during the day.

Tish Woods:

Do you feel sometimes society especially tells women and minorities really, the things that they can't do that they always talk about what obstacles and stuff? And I think what I love about your story, is that despite you hearing about all these obstacles, that you still held on to that dream, and you went forward to start that career.

Colette Durst:

Yeah, that's correct. I think you're right. I think especially as a woman, you're not you know, you're you're, you're not a there's just different expectations. And I was told different things. In addition to that, I was told by somebody in the military, that that's not your job, and it's your husband, that's an attorney, you don't need to be an attorney, you should be staying home. And it is a lot of things I was told that made me feel even more like I wanted to go to law school and prove them wrong.

Ellen Gustafson:

Right. So many more challenges being put in front of you. You know, after law school, you went on to start a family. And I think many people probably thought you were living the American dream. And looking back on that time, what what was kind of the first red flag or the first concern you had Colette about domestic issues?

Colette Durst:

Yeah, no, it's interesting, because my ex husband had been a good husband. I mean, I remember when the boys were newborns, he would stay up during the night, and he would help me feed them, he would take time off of work all the time to take care of them, pick them up from school, make dinner. But when I first saw a change in him was after 911, he became obsessed with getting activated, which he did, which meant to pay cut for us, which was hard. I started a new firm. And at that time, we had a, what a half year old and a four year old. And then he became obsessed with going to Afghanistan. And when I would tell him, I was having a tough time managing a home or rental property, a new job, and little kids with him gone. He would say he told me one time, tell that to the widows of those who died on 911. And he didn't care about my concerns. And that was my first. That's the first time I realized he was changing.

Ellen Gustafson:

That must have been very difficult.

Colette Durst:

Oh, it was really, really hard. And he was gone all the time. And then then I found out he was actually really trying to deploy to Afghanistan without telling me and it was just one Sunday he was leaving to go back to Camp Lejeune and he said, I make me go into Kabul this week. As if he's gonna go to Richmond. We're living Alexandria. Yeah. Like what? No. Well, is that Afghanistan? Yeah, it was just hard. He didn't deploy. But you know, it was just they blamed me for not deploying, and it just all these things that were just very, very difficult at the time.

Tish Woods:

You know, it was such a stressful time in our nation. And, you know, we were all trying to figure out, like, what could we do to make America safer? And, you know, people were rallying around this, and I think anyone, especially in the military probably felt that extra burden, that extra pressure to protect our nation under attack. And, and I'm sure, there was very little assistance to those military people, to guide them on this dual responsibility, you know, between their job and the nation, and their families, and especially ones that had young families. So as your career was taking off, and your personal life was starting to become a little bit more unstable, did you feel pressure to hide this increasing instability and this abusive behavior that was Starting to escalate.

Colette Durst:

Oh, definitely, definitely. I felt pressure to hide. First of all just out of shock. You know, I still remember the good guy. And here's this guy that was becoming really a monster. Personally, it's how I viewed it, and then shame. And I know my mom noticed the increase in drinking. My friends saw how he was drinking more. But I never told people about the how abusive he was becoming that people saw it one time, you know, and his main spiral was in 2005. Starting in January, and one time during that time, he got so mad at our one of our sons, he put my son under our son underneath a tree during a lightning storm, major lightning storm for timeout. And my son was just crying. And I was hoping people hadn't seen that so they could help me, because I was afraid I didn't know what to do. But I didn't tell people.

Tish Woods:

He was what five years old at the time your son.

Colette Durst:

I had a five and seven year old at that time. Yeah.

Ellen Gustafson:

Does he remember that? Colette? Yeah, yeah.

Colette Durst:

Well, there he gave, he gave testimony to the Marine Corps. We, he the Marine Corps, had them draw pictures and videotape them. And so he you know, we had to do that, because I was trying to get help from the Marine Corps. So I think that's he definitely remembers it.

Tish Woods:

Do you think because the military was so focused on responding to 911, that it may have overshadowed other things like responding to those threats to you. That you were going through? Do you think it it kind of just fell through the cracks? Because there were quote unquote, bigger issues? Or do you think it was because he was a reservists that he lacked some of the more in depth support?

Colette Durst:

Yeah, I think it's a combination of both. And I think a lot of ways, it's kind of, I think you use the term was perfect storm. Because first of all, you know, we were at war two wars at one time. We had not an understanding the reservists took the brunt of the wars. So not really an understanding of how tough it is when you're a family. And you know, he was working for the federal government, he was home by five every night. And I had a job in a law firm and all of a sudden, one person's gone. And by the way, your your your salaries cut, too. So it's not like you can bring in somebody to support you. And neighbors didn't understand it. Because, you know, nobody really, it's not like a base where people were really there to help you. I remember telling somebody one day, not too long ago, that I just want somebody bringing my garbage can during that time. I have great neighbors, but it's just like they just they nobody really understood sometimes how hard it was. So I think that's it. You know, wasn't you couldn't get help, because he's a reservist. I couldn't figure out where he belonged to get the helm. I called headquarters, I called Quantico, I called Lejeune. Nobody knew where he fit. And then they finally said, well talk to his commanding officers wife, who should be able to help you. And doing that is commanding officer found out I was reaching out for help. And that created a lot of problems.

Ellen Gustafson:

Wow, that it did. Yeah. You know, the Mayo Clinic studied what can lead to abuse and we've been talking about a lot of these things, it with regards to the military, but they found that some factors that could increase a person's risk include a history of being abused or neglected themselves as a child, physical or mental illness such as depression or post traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, family crisis, you know, all sorts of marital conflicts and parenting. Were any of these other things there for you, you guys as a couple Colette?

Colette Durst:

Well, I really think PTSD played a role in what happened. I mean, he never wanted to say he had PTSD. And, you know, it's, he never was formally diagnosed with PTSD. But from what I can tell, you know, between the heavy drinking the quick to anger, the taking risks that he taken, all that added up to what appears to be PTSD. And at one point, he started beginning He started drinking several Manhattan's a night, you know, it's in a Manhattan, it's all alcohol, and type of wine or beer. He would start drinking in the morning, even his mother called me one time and said, he came to visit and she was surprised he'd have a couple of Coors lights first thing in the morning. So he definitely was somebody who didn't do that. Oh even told me he was drinking at work. He kept to stop She told me in his office

Tish Woods:

when I see do you see that drinking? Maybe Wasn't a sign that he was attempting to self medicate? Because he was feeling out of control?

Colette Durst:

Yeah, I think so i think so I think he the PTSD in a PTSD is very complicated. But one thing I think, triggered the PTSD. One was, you know, having been to Iraq, so eventually went to Iraq in 2003. But then, when he was in Iraq, he had an affair. And he broke it off when I found out about it. And then his lover in Iraq, took a military issued phone and fired four shots into the phone using a military issued weapon, one for each of us. So one for my youngest son, oldest son, one for my ex husband, and one for me. And CID investigated, and he was moved from his current job, the job he had back to his former job. And he said it was the most humilitating and humiliating day in his life. So I think the combination of things again, going back to the theme of the perfect storm, I think it all came together. And he just was self medicating, he couldn't handle it.

Tish Woods:

So I see this kind of reoccurring theme of you kept reaching out to the people in the chain of command. But you were not receiving the help for you, for your family, or even for him. Correct.

Ellen Gustafson:

Also, Colette, I know that you were keeping it all together for your kids on the homefront, and really trying to, obviously make everything seem okay for them. What a double duty you are having to do, trying to get help for your husband, your ex husband now and really keeping your kids safe and protected. And I just, my heart is just really going out to you hearing this.

Colette Durst:

Yeah, no, it was really hard. And I was having a lot of stomach issues from the stress. And yeah, it was really hard. And he then became so fixated at one point and going back to Iraq to save the troops kept forgetting to save the troops. So some irrational ways of thinking started happening. And he said he wouldn't go back to Iraq, and then he's trying to get back to Iraq, without me knowing it again. So yeah, it was really a really tough time. And then the heavy drinking and heavy spending, going back to PTSD, spending a lot. And then so quick to anger all the time, it was really hard.

Tish Woods:

And then you're keeping this all hidden, and keep it all here and your your burden, the burden was on you. And you were doing it silently without that support. So now there's multiple studies that have shown that domestic violence rates are higher amongst military members than the civilian population. And this idea of Cultural Spillover Theory has been given as one of the possible reasons for these higher rates of violence.

Ellen Gustafson:

Hey, Tish, can you just share with us what is Cultural Spillover Theory, especially for our listeners, if they're not aware of it?

Tish Woods:

Sure. So Cultural Spillover Theory holds that the more society tends to legitimize the use of violence to attain its ends, and for which there is wide spread social approval for that, the greater the likelihood of illegitimate violence. So this is especially why the military needs to take these reports from spouses seriously. And when they reach out for help, because just the reaching out for help is that comes after not the first time that comes after, you know, a lot of desperation. And so, instead of ignoring them and sweeping it under the rug, Colette, do you feel that your husband's escalations had to do some with maybe this cultural spillover theory and the PTSD?

Unknown:

Yeah, definitely. And I think about it. You know, when you have a reservists that goes over to Iraq or Afghanistan or you know, another place of conflict, when they come back, then they're normally checked for PTSD as part of the process. While he was in a different group, he came back on a commercial airline with general Garner and some other people and arrived in Dulles to There's no nobody checking on him. So went from one moment from very violent world of conflict and war. And he said there was a one time there's a bomb in the ground and they had to dodge it. And this like, really heightened sense of your adrenaline's always flowing. And one minute he's back in rural Virginia, we're tall, green, and he's having to make dinner for kids and to not be checked out for PTSD is wrong. And I think and he's not given

Tish Woods:

any help to cope with any of those. Nothing need help to cope with it?

Colette Durst:

And yeah, and what really is, the worst thing I think about this is that, you know, they had to have known about the heavy drinking, and that is one obvious symptom of PTSD. And didn't do anything about it. But what they did definitely know about is one day, he just lost it. And he dropped off our son's at a neighbor's house, they were five and seven and said, I'm going to go to Home Depot told her, I'm going to Home Depot, I was at work. He sent me a text, I don't think he even called it you. It's I can't remember anymore. Say he dropped the kids off at Katie's house. And I told her I'm going home depot, but I'm not coming back. And they knew he abandoned his family. He was a lieutenant colonel at that time. And that should have been something right between the affair the heavy drinking, the the the other stuff that reported to the Marine Corps. That should have been enough. But no, they didn't do anything.

Ellen Gustafson:

And, Clint, you know, I'm curious. Many, many times we hear that an abusive partner really tries to isolate the person, like from friends from family, did you experience this happening? And you know, were these sudden or gradual changes? And, and I know, just not being able to be truthful, and trying to hold it together, in a sense, is some isolation, right?

Colette Durst:

Yeah, I've thought a lot about that. But definitely, I think one of the things he did was he kept me so busy. So here's a guy that used to if one of our kids was sick, he would stay home take the day off, because in the military, as a reservists he had 30 days off or more, I had no time off because I billable hours and a tough job and but he always took that time off. And all of a sudden, he had no time for the kids. All of a sudden couldn't make dinner, couldn't take the kids anywhere. It was all on me. Everything was on me. So in addition to working the demanding job, I had to pick up the kids in school, take the kids in school. So I was isolated, but not in the ways that we think about traditionally think I just had no time for anything else. Right? Except keep the family together.

Ellen Gustafson:

Yeah, he wasn't like cutting you off from your girlfriends or your sister or your mom. It was more isolation by you just being worked to the bone across the board.

Colette Durst:

Exactly. Exactly.

Tish Woods:

So many times they say it takes an average woman seven times before they are able to successfully leave an abusive partner. And I know he kind of kind of figured that out for you by leaving and and I'm kind of glad he did. I think he Yeah, Favre in the in the end, but what strengths do you feel that you had really had to draw on from within yourself? To handle the whole leaving to handle all of a sudden now it is on you? Everything's on you?

Colette Durst:

Yeah, well, first of all, going back to leave, I didn't think about leaving before several times, especially there's a time where he threw me against the bed and anger when I asked him about his heavy spending. Because he had gone through he went through almost all we sold a rental property. I forgot how much we made at least 150,000. He went through all that quickly. Because buying crazy stuff like $10,000 worth of Harley gear, bought a Harley Davidson. So I was thinking of leaving several times. And I just was scared. It's a scary thing. There was one time when I was my aunt was ill in Ireland and I went to Ireland for a long weekend to take care of her. And I asked him to you know, here's a number for the dogs that are make sure the dogs are let's you know our dog out big 80 pound German Shepherd living out in the middle of day if you're not gonna take the days off two days, all I asked him to watch the kids. And he left that poor dog in a cage from 6am to 7pm. And of course he had diarrhea all over the cage. And at that time when I came home, I was like I can't I can't how could I be with this guy who won't even doesn't even take time to take care of our beloved dog.

Tish Woods:

And you said like previously he had been a dog lover. So somebody who was incensed Have to to animals. But this was just really speaking to where his mental state was at at that time

Colette Durst:

Oh, exactly. I think it's a good reflection of his mental state because he's always kind of dogs. And he would always just take the day off. Like when I was traveling, he had 30 days of vacation, he would just take the two days off, or take half days, no time and that per dog. And the next day, he left the dog in our master bedroom. Shiva was her name and beautiful shepherd. And she didn't pooped all over the master bedroom. And then he tells me while I'm in Ireland, checking in on my sick aunt, and it's my fault somehow, that she had pooped everywhere. So that was another time to leave. But you right, once once, it was a relief that he left, I have to say, but it was hard. It was hard because I had to I was like, I gotta get away from him. I gotta protect my kids. And what do I need a security system, I need a lawyer I The house was under he left the house under construction that he was managing a big hole in the backyard for walkout basement. If it wasn't for my mom, she stepped in to try to get these contractors to do the work. It was a miserable, miserable time.

Tish Woods:

So besides the drinking, and there were other symptoms for the escalated violence. So what I'm hearing from you, so there was adultery, excessive drinking, violence, reckless financial decisions. And when we had talked to you had said that you were question about several weapons that he had purchased that you were unaware of at the time. So yeah, that was really scary. Yeah. So now, so like, so during this, were you seeing this rapid escalation? Or were you just trying to like, just keep things together? And now that you look back on it, and or were you just kind of just too busy dealing with that day to day,

Colette Durst:

I saw the rapid escalation? Well, I knew something was wrong with the weapons. But I was trying to manage it all. But I've tried. And now I've learned more after I started learning more about domestic abuse, studying it and realizing, you know, what I went through and you know what it is, but the the guns were especially disconcerting, because when he walked out, and as we were left with very little money, because he had depleted our savings, as I mentioned, and he was saying he was gonna live like a month. And he so go to the Marine Corps Base to actually register my car, renew my tags. And they go, ma'am, do you still have those weapons? And I go, I don't have any weapons. They go, well, we looks here like two months ago, you registered or your husband registered a two shotguns a rifle and a nine millimeter? As like, why does he need those? So I went to my attorney. And of course, they're like, Well, you know, he's a, he's a, he's a Marine, he she's able to have guns. Why are you so worried? I think it is attorney probably told my attorney. I think she's paranoid. Who knows. I mean, that's they were always criticizing me. And I was considered being overly worried. But who buys? Like, he was like, my neighbor, my former neighbor was a doctor, medical marine medical doctor even said he was showing signs of instability. Why would he go out and buy? Like four weapons, not just one for

Tish Woods:

and not tell you? So you were aware of it until the big find you? Yeah, we're actually these weapons and you and young children in the house. So Oh, yeah. That was something that you definitely should have known.

Ellen Gustafson:

Right? Yeah that would make me think what else do I not know? And how worried I would be so I completely agree with how you were feeling at that point. Colette it's so valid, hearing those things and being surprised. Yeah. So you guys ended up getting a divorce? And he did. Did that go easy? Or did that go hard?

Colette Durst:

Oh, my God. Oh, so hard. I know. And I found out later, there's a lot of good studies on this. And actually, you know, there's so much information on this. I wish I had known at the time. It probably I would say totally, probably took nine years not the actual official divorce but between the last legal action you filed against me was 2014. So think about I filed for divorce in 2005. During that time, you use the court system, you know, we so I sold the marital house to a friend and did so without using a real estate agent to try to get some money, right because I needed money to buy another house. And he was in Iraq back in Iraq and his response I was, I was so happy you sold the house to, you know, so x and y. But I'm going to ask that all the proceeds go into escrow until I get back from Iraq, which he knew I had a contract on a house to buy in Arkansas and I couldn't buy that house without the money. Because I know money. And

Tish Woods:

and let me let me make this clear. You weren't taken all the money for just you. It was your part of the money that he held up, right?

Colette Durst:

Yeah, all was was my partner's gonna split directly in half. Even though I had to do all the work to get the house sold. I had to do everything and we're talking like begging contractors to finish this work that he couldn't do. He just couldn't do. Yeah, no, I yeah, it's just my half of the proceeds, which is very little money really. And no, he wanted to my sister reached out to his mom reached out to my then husband and begged him and he reluctantly agreed to release my half of the money. My half my money. So yeah, it's funny. But I think the worst though, to be honest, with you all the worst of it was, I did buy luckily bought the house in Arkansas, beautiful house, you know, got the boys stable, went and got them into a nice, you know, really good school. It was a wonderful Catholic school. And they, you know, it was there. They've been through a lot of trauma, obviously. And we were set up we had our German Shepherd Shiva came with us as another story having to get her to Arkansas. But um, yeah, so he comes back from Iraq. And he, his attorney calls my attorney and says about the time by this time, we're in Arkansas, right? I mean, I've been sued in three different states. But guess what he tells, my attorney calls my aunt on who's a non lawyer who's helping me at this time, because it was so bad. Because well, guess what your she does. Colette's husband, told my aunt said she bought a house in Arkansas while she was married, so he's gonna force the sale of it. And which means we'd have no place to live. And luckily, we were able to prove the only equity in the house in Arkansas was from the proceeds of the sale of marital home. But just think about that, who does that let you know, the kids will be moved again. And it's not easy to find a house that takes an 80 pound German Shepherd, if you were to rent, you know?

Ellen Gustafson:

Right? And just why wouldn't he wants to build it for his children? I think that's the part yeah, that you know, somebody who's mentally stable and mentally sound, you would think would want their children to be in a stable environment,

Colette Durst:

exactly. Not having to move again and be disrupted yet again.

Tish Woods:

So kind of I really curious, and I'm sure our listeners are to what prompted you to want to write about any of this in LinkedIn. So again, it wasn't like a article about abuse, but it was the words you use, were bringing the war home. And that was a signal to many other women of what you really meant was this domestic issue at home? And you had a lot of women reach out to you from that article, didn't you?

Colette Durst:

I did, and I don't know what inspired me with the article, I think it was because, you know, after being sued for nine years, and he tried to do his best, so I couldn't, I can't, I'm not allowed to share any documents, things like that. He you know, there's things he kept suing me and suing me. And, but I just felt like it was time to tell a bit of my story. And partly because I think, you know, my mom has been deceased now since 2013, my brother since 2014. And they're always so proud of me. And I just decided, you know, what, it's time for me to try to pay back and let people know that even if you hit obstacles in your life, but yet you're born, you know, you don't have a wealthy family, or you have you face abuse, or you face times when you don't have any money. You can overcome those challenges. It won't be easy. But the symbol I like to use as I think I put that in the article is that it's like the Phoenix, right, you may crash and burn. But you'll come out of the ashes more beautiful than you were and I truly believe that. I truly believe that. And it's

Ellen Gustafson:

just getting up, right? Yes, that one simple step that can lead to so many other really great things happening.

Colette Durst:

Definitely is getting up and getting support right like that's why this Midsters is such a great podcast, getting support of other women there's power. We, I had one Mediator tell me that I better settle the case because the judge will love my ex husband, this is here in Florida. And I said, Well, what do you mean? He goes, Well, your ex husband is a Marine Corps hero and a lawyer. And I go, what? Am I just a woman? And he didn't answer. Yeah. You just shrugged his shoulders. But I think so much of it is we are more powerful than we think we are. Because we spent so much time either being told we're not as strong as we are, or just society, not giving women credit for what we have achieved and what it takes to achieve what we achieved, that it's time to pay it forward and give people hope, give people hope.

Tish Woods:

Absolutely. I think that article gave you back your power. Yeah, I think it probably empowered a lot of other women. To me, it it changes that visual of who is a domestic abuse person, it's not the woman cowering without a job. I mean, yes, it can be. But it can also be that corporate executive as well. And the silence is what holds the healing back, I think. And I think you bravely sharing that story, I just hope it reaches some ears of somebody that is at that point that says, I've had enough. And I am strong enough. And I've tried to hold things together for my family or my kids. But I'm getting out. And they develop a plan to do that. And but I think that's what it's all about is in what you were saying. We are so powerful when we come together as women, will they support each other we are there we are incredibly powerful.

Ellen Gustafson:

And I think that vulnerability, Colette that you talked about too, when we're vulnerable, other people can come and help us and can come and support us. And I've always kind of been like, I'll put my best foot forward, which could mean not saying anything, right. And when you do let other people in and you show that vulnerability, I've I've just been surprised here at midlife by doing that. The richness that has come to me the riches right from other women support.

Colette Durst:

You know, that's right, well said, and I agree with you. And I think we all need to do that, right? Because I think so much so often we are afraid to show to show our vulnerability. And we need to show it because you know, people there's my mother used to always say ask for help, there are people will give it and I sometimes this is later in life and but I need to remember that advice or like the way you put it, you know, be it's okay to be vulnerable, and you'll get people to help you.

Tish Woods:

And I think especially for those strong women, I think in a work environment, we feel we have to be iron. And we can't show any vulnerability or any weakness or it's perceived a certain kind of way. And we need to we need to do away with that mentality. We as women need to support each other. And, you know, come together and say it's okay, it's okay to talk about these things. It's okay to get that support to move forward. You know, I think as women, we forget to do some self care.

Ellen Gustafson:

Yes, I agree with you. Tish. Let's talk about that a little bit, you know, self care to really help recover from the effects of emotional abuse. You know, in fact, many physical and sexual abuse survivors had said that it was really the emotional abuse that was the most devastating to them, and had the longest term effects. It really cuts to the core, you know, really attacking your well being and abuse victims also can suffer from PTSD, depression and anxiety. Colette, what did you do around any of these things around practicing self care?

Colette Durst:

Yeah, great question. Because for a long time, I just, yeah, things were so crazy. I just didn't, you know, I made sure I always made sure to try to run, you know, walk the dogs every day center myself when I walked the dogs. But it just wasn't constant testing tennis. Tennis was key. Yes, Tisha, no, you're a tennis player now that are pickleball tennis. Yeah, and even to this day, we tennis is how you know there are days I play doubleheaders tennis, even this heat of Florida, but that is so wonderful, but I'm getting better at other types of self care. You know, nowadays, I tried to have my breakfast while watching the sunrise and do more meditation. But I wasn't good at it back then. Because I was either or starting a new job, or raising kids around. And thank goodness, I had my mom to help me and my sister, and my brother Brian. But when I didn't have them, it was really, really hard to find any extra time. I mean, there were days I was working, I did the math one day and like, Okay, I'm working 10 hours a day minimum. I'm driving three, I like to sleep at least eight. SEC is Ms. 21. It gives me like three hours to make dinner and take a shower,

Ellen Gustafson:

and do homework, dogs. Do homework, homework with the kids. Right? A load of laundry here,

Colette Durst:

laundry here and there. I mean, a lot of times you almost like feel like you're, you know, taking conference calls while chopping vegetables. It wasn't as bad as that. But I feel like, you know, things can be pretty darn crazy. So it's more about slowing things down taking that time for self care.

Tish Woods:

And, but is it it's a testament to you that going through this, you raise two amazing sons who are very successful, very independent, successful boys,

Ellen Gustafson:

and you build excelled in your career?

Tish Woods:

Career, you have found that time to follow your special interests, like running and tennis and things like that. So I know you're you are an avid writer for LinkedIn and doing articles and kind of teaching and sharing. So I don't know you really maximize those three hours?

Colette Durst:

Well, back then I don't think that was an exception times were fine, long day, and I had nobody to pick up the kids from school. But But ya know, back then I Yeah, it was a that I didn't do as much. I don't think I've been playing any tennis back then. But I'm better about that. And tennis is good because you commit to people, right? So you can't, it's not like, you know, when you things are going hard. You're like, oh, I can go for a run. Or I could just sit on the couch and veg tennis like oh my god. I told three other people, I'll be on the court, I have to be there. So it's great

Tish Woods:

color. What is one piece of advice that you would give a woman who finds herself in a similar situation of domestic abuse? What would you give her? What piece of message would you give her to give her the courage to take that first step?

Colette Durst:

Gosh, there's so many things I've like to tell somebody but I think to talk about one advice, one piece of advice to take the first steps, we're not talking about a plan. It's just the first step, I would say the biggest advice would be really contact your local domestic abuse support group. Because here in South Florida, I've done work with Abda aid to victims of domestic abuse. And they have experts, they have people in their phone lines, they actually have a shelter where they take dogs and a lot of women don't leave abusers I think about that with what my ex did then husband did to my German Shepherd, like, Would you leave a dog with somebody like that? Like? Yeah, so I think that's really my piece of advice. Because that one spot can give them all the advice they need, they can hook them up with a good lawyer that that knows about domestic abuse, I can't tell you about how many lawyers had no clue, especially emotional abuse, oh my gosh, there's no scars. It doesn't matter that you have these deep, you know, hidden scars. They wanted to see real scars, they'll hook you up with people who have expertise in finances to help you find a way to have enough money to escape. They'll give you a place to stay in. That would be my one piece of advice. There's so many great groups out there all over the country.

Ellen Gustafson:

And you know, Colette, we will put links in our show notes to all of the organizations you just mentioned, as well as the National Domestic Violence Hotline, as well. So if anyone know someone who's going through this kind of situation, or is going through it themselves, they'll have some resources in our show notes. I can't thank you enough for sharing your story with us. And I know that this is really going to help a lot of people.

Colette Durst:

Well, I hope so because i hope i i made a lot of mistakes, you know, with like, it was hard and but in the end you know, thankfully, like you all said things worked out but quite often that could have gone the other way and I want to help people as much as I can. And maybe more you know, as you know, we all think about what we want to do in retirement. I'd love to help women even more once that time comes some.

Ellen Gustafson:

Amazing

Tish Woods:

Colette, thank you so much. You're welcome taking those brave steps and doing that article and being here with us today. Thank you so much.

Ellen Gustafson:

Thank you. Till next Midsters till next week