Good Place Akron

Pain into Power Inc:
Encouraging Women to Rise Above the Ashes of Abuse

By: Katie Sobiech

Domestic violence is often kept secret, but there is no secret about what Sharon Goodrich, Executive Director/CEO of Pain into Power is doing to uncover this darkness that occurs worldwide. Her goal is to educate and empower women who are caught in the web of domestic violence to find a way out.

Pain into Power Inc., founded in June of 2008, is a program that encourages women in violent relationships to refocus their lives; changing the direction of their future. They offer multiple opportunities for women, including a drop-in center, eight week empowerment classes, seminars and ongoing support.

“The classes and seminars offer concrete solutions that can be implemented to regain dignity by refocusing their life and energy,” Goodrich wrote in her newsletter.

Her mission is to provide services to transform and renew hope to survivors, families, communities, and to hold public memorials that honor victims lost to violence.

Acting out against Violence

From 1995 to 1997 Goodrich was Event Coordinator for Violence Awareness Day, an event that raises awareness of violence in Cuyahoga Falls. Mayor Robart spoke at one particular event, followed by others from social service agencies and poetry readings from survivors. It included a march through downtown Cuyahoga Falls and was ended with a candlelight vigil to remember those who died as a result of violence.

Goodrich, a woman with relentless passion for what she does, even traveled to the Ohio State Capital and gave a seminar on March 12th of this year. She attended the Violence against Women national event in Washington D.C. presented by the National Organization for Women as well.

With an apparent passion for justice, she also taught the St. Sach program (Stop Sexual Abuse in Children) through the YWCA Rape Crisis center in Akron from 1994 to 1997 and is now Ohio Child Welfare Trainer at the Children Service Board of Summit County

She isn’t stopping there. This past November she began filming a documentary on violence.

“I just got in my car, went on the street and talked to people, asking them about domestic violence.”

She filmed in Columbus while there to speak with one of the state representatives and plans to use the interviews of the survivors in her training with the state and in her classes.

“I use it (the video) to show women that there are other people who have been through what they are going through and that they can get out,” she explained.

Learning by Experience

What led to the formation of this non profit was the fact that Goodrich was in a domestically violent relationship herself. Because of this she is now able to steer women away from stepping into the same relationship traps and making the same mistakes that she did.

Of her relationship, she said “It started off really great. I knew him through a mutual friend so I thought this was a safe guy, but now I know the signs today that I didn’t know back then.”

Some of the signs included quick involvement, controlling behavior, overly possessive, wanting to know where she was at all times, all under the umbrella of “I’m so in love with you I cannot stand not being with you.”

“It started out seemingly innocent,” Goodrich explained, “I felt really special. I had a stack of cards from that man that would fill a store and they were full of everything a woman wants to hear.” Also “He knew my weak points and used them to his advantage to manipulate me at a later date.”

She went on to explain, “Single moms are usually very stretched, so the man will come in and support the kids and do things that make you feel like he’s a great guy.”

It wasn’t until 3-4 months into the relationship that he had what she refers to as “His first explosion.”

“He was cussing and screaming and instead of me telling myself ‘you need to get away from this person’ I stayed because I was already really enmeshed with him. Emotionally he already had those locks in and I was kind of brain washed. That’s what happens a lot today. It’s an emotional brainwashing and you start to believe the things that they tell you.”

A Step Further

Eventually the arguing led to pushing and shoving. Her boyfriend (who eventually became her husband) also had a rottweiler that would protect him during the arguments.

“The dog would attack me repeatedly,” Goodrich recalls, even having nightmares of the scenario while staying at the Battered Women’s Shelter.

The police were called 9 times during only a year and a half of their marriage.

Bittersweet Memories

While going through a chain of 5 different surgeries and other health issues, Goodrich said “He stepped in to help me and became the most loving, compassionate, caring ‘let me make you dinner’ kind of person.”

Then suddenly it would change back to “I’m the only person who cares about you. Your family doesn’t care, your kids don’t care’ and he would bad mouth my friends.”

At the time Goodrich didn’t have a car or job.

“I didn’t have any means of getting away from him really.”

She would often call 911.

“And nothing really happened. I called 911 because I wanted someone to intervene and no one ever did. So I realized the only way for it to stop was for me to get out of it.”

So she left him, but then came back – which was a repetitive pattern.

Whenever she left she says “I would get text messages, pictures, a letter; something that would draw me in.”

So she would go back, but things only got worse.

“That is where my faith came in,” she said, “I was praying. I would spend hours on the couch (after my surgery) reading the Bible, watching Christian TV shows, writing and journaling –trying to stand firm.”

The next time she left and came back her husband told her that if it happened again, someone was going to die.

Saying Goodbye

Finally one day she left for good, taking a small bag and heading to the Battered Women’s shelter where she stayed for 6 months. She then moved to the Crisis Center where her ex was spotted driving around the property so she had to be moved again. Her ex sent her money orders for $500 each, but she wasn’t falling for it. She even mailed her phone back to him.

“It was me saying ‘I don’t want to hear anything anymore’,” she said.

After sending the phone back she got a Civil Protection Order. He could not come within 500 feet of her, or send her or her family and friends messages, but even with a protection order and living in a secluded shelter she didn’t feel safe.

“I was in a shelter, totally secured but suffered from nightmares all of the time,” she said, “I would wake up punching the wall or yelling. The post traumatic stress was really strong.”

A Purpose is Born

While staying at different shelters, Goodrich recalls often seeing women go back to their husbands repeatedly.

“They would get hooked by phone calls,” she said.

She learned a lot about herself while observing their behavior.

“During this time I just started writing and journaling. I kept writing ‘why do us women keep going back? Why do we do this?’ So basically the first three weeks of the program that I teach was really born while I was in the shelter.”

During this time she also did a lot of research, finding statistics and how to educate women.

“One in three women is a victim of violence at some point in her life,” she said.

She particularly focused on statistics in Ohio, such as how many protection orders there have been, how many arrests and how many deaths and says that it is consistently going up.

“It is not going down – the statistics are rising,” she said with concern.

She also found that medical referrals due to abuse are approximately 7-8,000 a year, while the amount of psychological referrals due to abuse is three times higher than the medical referrals.

“That tells me that women are getting injured, but the psychological damage is three times higher for counseling and stress. That doesn’t even include the kind of health risks that they’re at from the stress on their bodies.”

When she left the shelter she continued to write about the topic. She eventually purchased a lap top and learned how to do power point so that she could begin helping other women.

“I started out of nowhere and God kind of gave me that vision to start.”

She started teaching classes and then moved into a building on the corner of Market and Buchtel, on the bus line, close to City Hospital and Community Health Center.

What They Offer

As mentioned before, Pain into Power Inc. offers eight week, two hour long empowerment classes at the Drop in Center where women are educated on violence awareness and given the characteristics of violence.

“I realized that I have to make sure they know because it becomes like second nature to them like ‘oh, it’s that bad?’”

She says that it’s often not that women don’t want to get out, but that they are too exhausted to try to get out.

“You are so exhausted because you are just surviving the relationship from minute to minute so you don’t have energy left to ask ‘how can I get out?’ ‘what can I do?’, ‘where can I go’? So you stay.”

The classes at the Drop in Center are open to women of all ages. Goodrich has had women from ages 19 to 65 come in. There will also be meetings in the conference room at the new Transit Center in downtown Akron once a month from 10:00-4:00. Dates through October include July 30th, August 20th, September 24th and October 23rd.

A support group is held every Wednesday from 12:00-2:00 p.m. and Goodrich provides seminars for anyone interested.

Stories of Success

Many women have been educated and helped through this program.

One woman fled her husband from Florida, leaving in the middle of the night in her pajamas and taking a bus on a ticket given to her by a friend in Akron, who she’s been living with since January. But though she escaped her husband she could not escape his calls. This is where Goodrich’s experience of what works and does not work came in.

“I told her to get rid of the phone because he kept calling and I said “as long as you keep listening to that it’s going to start wearing on you a little bit and a little bit more’.”

The man even had someone stage as a “nurse” and call her saying that he was dying of cancer.

“They are very manipulative,” Goodrich said, “That is the biggest thing - manipulation and pulling on a woman’s good, nurturing side.”

Goodrich used to minimize the violence in her relationship, but doesn’t want to see other women fall into the same trap.

“The biggest thing is sharing the things that I went through with the women and saying ‘you know what? I’ve been there. I remember whenever I felt like that and this is what I did not to go back’.”

She loves seeing the women “connect the dots” as she teaches classes, gives power points and shows movies.

“Watching this woman (who left her husband in Florida) go through the 8 weeks to the end then take all of the sayings and hold them so close to her heart was encouraging. I used a lot of Bible verses as something to hold on to. There’s one that says we are warriors, like in 2nd Timothy – you don’t have the spirit of fear, you have a sound mind. You are strong.”

This woman has not gone back to her husband since and is now planning to go to Massotherapy School at age 65.

It helps that the women also encourage each other.

You Can Help

If you are a church interested in having Goodrich come speak on this topic, she would love to do so.

“We are faith based. If we had a couple of churches that said ‘we would really like to take this under our wing and support it’ that would be great.”

“We can use donations of all kinds,” Goodrich said, including personal items, shampoo and bus passes.

“There are women who have no means of getting around,” she said.

Goodrich’s message to all women is, “If you ever need help, call me.”

If you are a woman or know a woman who is in an abusive relationship please contact Goodrich at (330)622-0613. You can also get more information at

(Address has not been disclosed for safety reasons. Goodrich will provide you with an address when you call.)