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Candidate Set Sights on Battling Abuse

Peekskill's Kathleen Talbot's eyes weren't always focused on a seat on the Common Council. The Democratic candidate used to help abused and addicted women see the path toward a better future.

“There's just so much on the line for these women,” said Talbot. The victims of domestic abuse often feel trapped in their home lives where the only shelter and security they have is tethered to violence, she said. “Wouldn't it be lovely if a few words of encouragement could fix that,” Talbot mused.

Talbot become a New York State Licensed Clinical Social Worker after receiving her Masters in Social Work at Fordham University in 2005. Prior to that, she enjoyed a successful career as a graphic artist before the economic downturn took its toll on the advertising and marketing industry.

“I always wanted to finish my degree and I thought this would be a career I would do well at,” Talbot said. She landed a position at the Bronx Women's Center and worked her way up the ladder to director.

In the years that followed Talbot witnessed the trials and tribulations of desperate women in even more desperate situations. The center focused heavily on substance abuse, but also addressed domestic violence and abuse as well. “Not all of the women were physically abused, but they were all addicted to something,” recalled Talbot.

Many of the women came from broken homes and abusive upbringings, she said, factors that would push them to self-medicate their emotional pain with drugs and alcohol. Some would fall into relationships that perpetuated the cycle of violence. For Talbot, one of the most difficult things was watching helplessly as a woman fell for the “honeymoon” phase following an incident where the abusive partner promises it will never happen again.

Talbot said she was bolstered through those moments by the success stories, those women who rose above the challenges. Some got their lives together and moved forward in a positive direction. Others found their way to college and beyond.

Talbot has since parted ways with the center. Cut backs resulted in a severe staff reduction as the grants and state funding were no longer available. She hopes that other paths to educating the public and breaking the cycle of violence open up and women in need of help will still have somewhere to go.

Talbot pointed out that not every client was from a poor family. There were women from Chappaqua and other communities as well.

“Whether it's in the Bronx or in Peekskill, there is still a lot of education and work to do," she said. "One thing I know is that domestic violence happens up and down the economic ladder.”

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