Class helps women fight back

November 13, 2017 11:43 PM

A group of women and girls gathered at Williamson Sports Center at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs spent the day Sunday learning how to fight back, in case they ever have to.

“I was attacked in my home,” Donna Palomba said. “While I was sleeping in my bed. My children were sleeping down the hall and my husband was away.”

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The attacked happened in 1993 at Palomba's Waterbury, Connecticut home. 

Eleven years later John Regan was arrested for raping her at gunpoint.

Her non-profit, Jane Doe No More, spreads awareness about sexual assault.

“We are helping people to understand about the crime so that we can break the stigmas,” Palomba said. 

Palomba's organization and Connecticut-based martial arts school, East Coast Training Systems provide free ‘Escape Alive’ self -defense classes for women. 

Saturday’s class at Skidmore College was for mothers and daughters. 

Instructor, Tracy DiGiovancarlo, survived a sexual assault at 12 years old. 

“I didn't fight back,” DiGiovancarlo said. “How did I not kick scream or run you now. So after that it was more of my way of fighting back.”

“Just having a young daughter who walks back and forth to school and does things on her own now I just thought it would be important to come out and do this,” Yvette Dorr said.  

“This can happen to anyone and it's just good to be prepared,” Yvette’s daughter, Skyler, said. 

“Instructors insist, it's not just about learning how to defend yourself, it's also about building confidence so if you need to you have the courage to use these moves.

Regan served a 12-year sentence in Clinton Correctional for raping Palomba, assaulting a co-worker and trying to kidnap a 17-year-old Saratoga Springs high school track star.

His release date was set for last month but he is still being held under civil confinement because New York's Attorney General believes he suffers from a mental abnormality.

Palomba hopes he remains in custody.

In the meantime, she is focused on her mission. 

“We want to empower women,” Palomba said. “And the girls and give everyone a fighting chance.”


WNYT Staff

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