NEWPA holds ‘Break the Cycle’ domestic violence awareness event at Crow’s Nest in NH

Samantha Barrett, Erica Testa and Lida Mullendore

Testa and Barrett split top two prizes in 16-entrant 9-ball tournament

The ‘cycle’ that the New England Women’s Pool Alliance (NEWPA) set out to raise awareness of on Sunday, August 15 is a pattern of behavior recognized by professional domestic violence counselors, support personnel and the victims of such violence. It begins in a relationship where tensions build and an abuser demonstrates more and more anger and violent behavior. An ‘explosion’ occurs, which results in some form of violence. The victim is in pain, fearful, desperate and humiliated, all at once. The abuser minimizes what’s been done or denies it completely, while the victim will often blame herself. A ‘honeymoon’ period occurs, during which the abuser apologizes, declares love and assures the victim that it won’t happen again. Hopeful and loved, life goes on until the tension starts to rebuild toward yet another ‘explosion’ occurs and the cycle is renewed.

Women in such situations are sometimes unable to identify the pattern, understand its significance or break the cycle in a way that frees them to live more productive and certainly less high-anxiety lives. Events like this recent one, hosted by the NEWPA, are not necessarily designed to address victims or abusers directly (although that might happen), but more as a means of raising awareness so that those in attendance, while perhaps neither victim nor abuser, can be made aware of the ‘cycle’ and potentially recognize it in the lives and behavior of people with whom they are close and be in a better position to help. Victims and abusers are often reluctant to seek professional help in these hyper-personal situations, but might take some measure of comfort or advice in speaking to a family member or personal friend.

And the more people who understand the ‘cycle’ of domestic violence, the more likely it will be that victims and abusers will find avenues, through close personal support, potentially leading to professional help to ‘break that cycle.’

So the NEWPA, with its roots in the world of competitive pool, organized a 9-ball tournament and in addition to running that tournament, offered professional information and advice to all of those in attendance.

“Ann Mason was the main sponsor of this event, adding $200,” said NEWPA representative Katie Fiorilla. “She also arranged for a representative of Haven (NH’s largest violence prevention and support services agency) to speak to the players about resources in the area and distribute pamphlets with further, more detailed information about the agency and its efforts to ‘Break the Cycle.”

“Master Billiards also added $100,” said Fiorilla. “We also wanted to thank Marc Dionne and Jenn Berghelli from the New England 9-Ball Series for all their support. They handled all the registrations and payments, allowed us to use their CompuSport bracket and Jenn even made flyers and posted the player list for us.”

Originally scheduled to be hosted by House of Billiards in Hampton Falls, NH, a change in ownership, seven days prior to the event, led to something of a scramble to find a new venue.

“We were very fortunate that at the last minute, Cochise Kasabian-Judd (Crow’s Nest, Plaistow, NH) agreed to host the event,” said Fiorilla. “She also put out a very nice coffee service, with juice, muffins and bagels and we can’t thank her staff enough.”

So, after some early morning refreshment and a presentation on ‘breaking the cycle’ of domestic violence from the folks at Haven, it was time to play some pool. The $300-added event drew a planned 16 entrants to Crow’s Nest.

It was won, technically by Erica Testa, who went undefeated into the hot seat. The woman she’d defeated to gain that seat (Samantha Barrett) came back from the semifinals and they decided to split the top two prizes.

Testa’s path to the winners’ circle went through Melissa Curtin and Stacy Hamel to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal versus Michelle Haddock. Barrett, in the meantime, got by Jessie Wilmott and Ann Ngeth to pick up Lida Mullendore in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Barrett and Testa apparently really wanted to play against each other in the hot seat match and proceeded to shut out both of their opponents to make sure that happened. Testa then claimed the hot seat 5-2 over Barrett, in what proved to be the winner-determining match of the event.

On the loss side, Mullendore drew Hamel, who’d defeated Wilmott and Linda George, both 4-2 to reach her. Haddock picked up Kim Chappelle, who’d recently eliminated Danielle Walker 4-1 and Ngeth 4-2.

Haddock and Mullendore got right back to work, handing Chappelle and Hamel, respectively, their second loss. Mullendore then downed Haddock 4-2 in the quarterfinals, before losing to Barrett in the semifinals by the same score.

Testa and Barrett agreed to the split. The final four standing went home a little richer and everybody presumably went home a little wiser about the ways and means of breaking the cycle of domestic violence.