“The real story is what happened next.” So said a longtime member of the Women’s Success Network (WSN) who spoke at their recent event entitled “Strong Women/Safe Women.” The meeting was held on February 3 at the Highland Country Club in Attleboro, and the speaker (name withheld for obvious reasons) was sharing the very personal account of her experiences in an abusive relationship. The story she related, however, was a story that was less about victimization and more about resolve, resilience, and the power of a helping hand.
The turning point for her came, she said, when she confided in a neighbor and was met with concern and support. She successfully left her husband, taking her children with her, and was ultimately able to build a healthy, safe, and successful life for them all.
Her success, not the abuse, was the defining feature of her life.
WSN Chairperson Michelle Raymond (pictured right) added her insights on the issue of domestic abuse from her perspective as an attorney who practices family law.”When people tell us things,” she said, “we need to be aware of what they’re really saying— it’s important for us as professionals and as friends to listen.” She also noted that there are now far more resources available to survivors of abuse than in previous times, both within and outside the court system.
Groups like New Hope, an Attleboro-based organization, offer assistance such as emergency shelter, help in obtaining restraining orders, counseling, and more.
Following the discussion, Dena Paolino of Striking Beauties, a new women’s boxing gym in Attleboro, treated the attendees to a very different demonstration of female power. Dena, an attorney and entrepreneur, became interested in boxing as a way of de-stressing at the end of the day. She established Striking Beauties in 2009 in an effort to make boxing more accessible to women.
She currently has members that range in age from six to sixty. Boxing, she said, not only develops physical strength, but builds self-confidence as well.
“It’s not about violence; it’s a skill,” she said. “It’s a very technical sport, and it’s the number-one calorieburning exercise.” Dena and Jaime (the Hurricane) Clampitt, a Striking Beauties instructor and competitive boxer, gave a demonstration of boxing technique. Several WSN members joined in, exhibiting impressive spirit and enjoying themselves immensely.
Strong Women/Safe Women was a fitting theme for an organization such as the Women’s Success Network, which was established 25 years ago for the purpose of helping women to help women, both personally and professionally. As the speaker said, “We are all stronger than we realize, and as women we are here to support each other.” For more information on the Women’s Success Network, visit www.wsinc.org.For information on New Hope, call 1-800-323- HOPE (1-800-323-4673), or visit www.New-hope.org.
This article originally appeared in the Bellingham Bulletin March 2010 newspaper.