UN picOne in three women worldwide have experienced domestic violence.

The UN designated November 25 as the day to Orange Your Neighborhood and unite to end violence against women,    kicking off a 16 day campaign of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence leading up to December 10 Human Rights Day.

Violence against women occurs in every country across all racial, religious and social- economic strata. The implications of such a complex issue cannot be addressed in a single blog post, but I wanted to take a closer look at one facet. Does the fact that American women now are able to compete in sport make them better equipped to combat abuse?

I asked my friend Kathy Pooler, who recently barnstormed the country promoting her KathyPoolermemoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse, speaking out for awareness and understanding of domestic violence. How do good girls from loving families, like Kathy, get trapped by bad men? Kathy came of age before the passage of Title IX, and though naturally athletic, never had the opportunity to participate in competitive sport.

My question to Kathy is “do you think if they had competitive team sports when you were growing up that it would have made a difference in the choices you made for partners?”

“Absolutely! I could have benefited from playing competitive sports because I watched my daughter develop life skills from playing sports. I lived vicariously through her as I watched her steal a ball and dribble down the court for the game winning basket. She overcame challenges working within a team and gained confidence in her ability to take charge of her life. She’s a team player and can play with the big boys in every aspect of her life. I love it!

I remember playing basketball in gym in 1962. I loved the swish of the net when I nailed a basket and that little act alone filled me with confidence. Unfortunately in the 60s, girls were deemed unfit for a full court game. I often wonder how my life may have turned out had I been allowed to play on “real” basketball team. Would I have been more assertive in choosing a partner who was right for me? Would I have had more confidence in making the right life decisions? Yes, I do think playing a competitive sport would have prepared me to take charge of my life sooner.

In my memoir, I show how I eventually tap into my inner strength to find freedom from abuse and live the life I want and deserve. I can’t change what happened but I can say that finding my inner strength, which I discovered had been there all along, was like nailing that game winning basket.

Sport teaches lessons of confidence and empowerment, of how to be a team player and learn to take defeat gracefully and embrace victory. Competitive sport provides a toughening process that will render athletes the capability to navigate their life’s path with a strong sense of who they are, their strengths, their position on the “team” and their contributions to the overall game.”

Kathy was the product of a time period when a woman’s number one goal was to marry, in spite of that she courageously escaped those constraints not once, but twice. Yet throughout her dysfunctional marriage and the ensuing divorce, her fighting spirit prevailed as she completes a master’s degree and worked outside the home while raising small children.

As I read her memoir, I found myself cheering her on every step of the way and rejoicing when she triumphed in the end. I highly recommend Ever Faithful to His Lead to all women and can’t wait to read her sequel Hope Matters: A Memoir of Faith coming out in 2015.

Ever faithfullKathy, a retired family nurse practitioner, inspires others through her writing on her blog. Her book Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse, is available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.

Thanks Kathy for sharing your thoughts.

In support of women and the UN initiative, I will be wearing orange today. How about you? Have you taken steps to Orange Your Neighborhood? Has participation in team sport raised your self-esteem?