Shanda with her daughter Madyson on the Turtle Mountain Reservation.
Ten years ago Shanda Poitra thought that spending the rest of her life with an abusive husband was the way things had to be.
At the time she was raising three children and attending the University of North Dakota. She only signed up for an IMPACT class because she needed a gym credit.
Shanda could not have anticipated how much IMPACT changed her.
She found strength. She found her voice. She left her husband, returned to the reservation where she grew up, and began to build a new and better life for herself and her children.
Having IMPACT skills for herself was not enough for Shanda. As a member of the Turtle Mountain band of the Chippewa tribe, she wanted all the women in her community to have the opportunity to learn the skills to defend themselves. She convinced several tribe members to drive four hours to the University to experience IMPACT for themselves.
But even that wasn't enough. The need was much greater. According to the National Institute of Justice, 56% of Native women and girls experience sexual assault. Native women are murdered at rates ten times the national average.
Today, thanks to Shanda's fierce determination and excellent planning, instructors from IMPACT Boston are heading to North Dakota to teach safety and self-defense skills to more than women and girls on the reservation.
Meg Stone, IMPACT Boston, Executive director