Vegas, New York, Dubai, Asia, Hawaii, Australia, Morocco, Mexico… The globe-trotting singer-songwriter Izabelle never thought that one day she’d find herself in a toxic relationship tainted by episodes of conjugal violence. This artist freed herself by writing the song Bipolar Love.
By Frédéric Lebeuf
Now this talented young woman wants to help other victims of violent relationships to get out, especially by listening to the engaged lyrics of her album Version 2.0.
Originally from the Eastern Townships, she fell in love with a man while on a music tour abroad. “I found him a bit too protective at first,” she remembers. “I thought that maybe he was just trying to take good care of me. The violence in our relationship installed itself gradually, sneakily.”
It took two years for her to realize how she was being controlled and manipulated: “My first impression of him was that I should beware… I ended up doubting my own instincts. I convinced myself his temper tantrums were isolated cases, signs of fatigue or passing bad moods.”
Izabelle slipped into a cycle of conjugal violence. She became a shadow of her former self so as to not provoke her abuser. She was scared to leave him. “He controlled everything. I couldn’t imagine his reaction if I quit.”
During his tantrums, she developed a defensive reflex: she would detach herself emotionally. “I saw the scene as if I was a spectator. It was as if it wasn’t happening to me. I took refuge inside my own head, waiting for my aggressor to calm down. That was the best way to stop feeding his hate.” She thinks that’s how she survived.
After years spent abroad working on several big productions, the novelty of life on the road eventually wore off. She missed Quebec. She wanted to go home to write songs for her first album. Her partner found a job in the United States. She used her new U.S. base to go visit her family in Quebec.
The distance helped her step back and re-evaluate her life.
“I realized I’d changed a lot. I hated myself for staying with him. I couldn’t understand why I tolerated this toxic relationship. I tended to offer a lot of excuses for his violent behavior.”
One night she could stay silent no longer, and confided in two friends. “From that moment on, I couldn’t go back. I’d talked to someone about it. They were going to ask me a lot of questions. That was the point of no return.”
This songstress felt a need to write about her story in order to free her spirit. She had always figured that conjugal violence only affected weak, vulnerable, easily influenced and manipulated people. “I am a strong, independent woman who doesn’t let anyone tread on my feet. I could never believe I’d allowed myself to be abused for so long.”
She finally reconnected herself with her own vulnerability and wrote her first album.
“You can’t stay on the surface when you write. Conjugal violence is like a roller coaster ride. Highs of happiness, and lows of misery.”
This duality inspired the image behind the song Bipolar Love. When it came out in 2019, this song stayed in the top 10 of NIKY Radio (a division of iHeartRADIO) for 25 weeks.
The song’s lyrics are addressed directly at her abuser. She’d never had the chance to tell him what was in her heart. At first she’d written the words for her own healing, never intending to reveal them to the public.
“I used this experience to get stronger. I have a deep need to raise awareness” she says, visibly moved. “It’s a big sign of confidence when fans tell me their personal stories. I’d love for them to find the courage to get by and get out, like I did.”
Facts about Domestic Violence
By Frédéric Lebeuf
- Until 1968, a woman who was the victim of domestic violence could not ask for a divorce because of the abuse she was suffering.
- It was only in 1983 that the federal Law on Sexual Offences recognized conjugal rape. From then on, a wife could testify against her husband.
- After a difficult battle by several groups to change the law, in 2006 the Civil Code gave women the right to terminate a lease without penalty.
- Each year, the 43 women’s shelters that are members of the Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence shelter nearly 2,800 women and over 2,200 children. They answer 84,000 requests annually for help from victims, friends of victims, professionals and other organizations.
- Conjugal violence accounts for 30% of all crimes against the person reported in Quebec each year.