Sunday, May 22, 2011


Remember Sugar Ray Robinson at his young, handsome, fabulous best? The Olympic boxer, the charming young man. We wondered at all his problems. He fathered a baby at 17, had infidelity/domestic issues in his first marriage, abused alcohol and cocaine, semi-retired when young.

His soon-to-be-published autobiography tells us why. He grew up in a home where domestic violence and substance abuse were present. He saw his mother stab his father in the back, literally.

Flashbacks of the sexual abuse of an Olympic boxing coach haunted him and his relationships until he went into therapy. Four years of therapy.

Some of the kids at the DV shelter have been sexually abused. All of them have been exposed to at least one controlling, violent parent figure. Everything staff and volunteers do is related to the goal of helping women and kids who have been emotionally or physically battered to recover.

The shelter cannot provide the therapy Sugar Ray received, but its counseling groups for adults and children can help extract their damaging belief of worthlessness and push them toward finding themselves again.

Sugar Ray has a more successful marriage this time. He has owned up to his alcoholism. Most important, he has revealed his sexual victimization publicly in order to help others.

That makes him a hero, just like every woman and child who breaks away from their abuser's lies. Builds a new life. Scales every mountain in sight until they have a safe niche--and the same annoying but not life-threatening problems as everyone else.

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