Name: Natalie Blundell
Family info: Single Mother, 4 children: Spencer (34, White Plains), Lilly (31, Boston), Tessa (23, home) and Ruby (14, home).
Pets: We have 3 dogs: Doc, Max and fostering Archie. I have been fostering for 2 years. 6 Chickens (had up to 14!)
Name and description of your Business:
I’ve worked in finance for 27 years (at the same company - Tocqueville Asset Management) but founded two women’s support groups: Karuna Support Center which ran 2017-2023 and WeSpoke in 2021. I work to advocate and serve the larger community of women separating and divorcing.
Before working on this, what was your career?
Even though I’ve had a full-time job since I was 18, I’ve always had side jobs and “moonlighting” careers. I did bookkeeping initially, then got into sports management (organizing bike races and triathlons) and then turned more towards volunteerism and activism.
How did you get started with WeSpoke?
When getting divorced in 2016, I had the support of another Rye mom who was going through something similar and her friendship and understanding made things easier to navigate. I realized there’s no support for women who need other women to help get them through this difficult journey, someone that's been through it or going through it. That launched Karuna Support, an underground network of women supporting women. From there, I often heard about how terrible the family court system was, and how badly women were being treated in court and losing everything, including custody of their children, so I founded WeSpoke to specifically support women going through the abusive court system and predatory divorce industry.
I held a support meeting in my home, modeled after AA and Alanon, and had 4 women come, share and connect. It grew to over 300 women, usually with 10 women attending each meeting.
I chose to start WeSpoke in 2021, as I was appalled at what I was hearing from the women at Karuna. The injustice and clear discrimination and misogyny was too wrong to ignore. No one would believe what is happening inside the family courts.
What is the mission of WeSpoke?
WeSpoke is a peer-to-peer women's community who believe the family and matrimonial court systems are corrupt, unjust and structured to isolate and wear down women financially, emotionally and physically until they have nothing left. Our mission is to bring women together to gain support, heal and draw on our collective power. We are stronger together, than battling this journey alone.
What kind of work are you doing?
I was on the Steering Committee for the past 2 years for the Int'l Coercive Control Conference, where we hosted over 30 speakers from around the world at a 3-day virtual conference to understand and raise awareness of coercive control. I’m also trained as a Domestic Abuse Counselor and volunteered on a DV Hotline for a year. I’m also trained in Strangulation and Lethal Assessment, which helps identify a woman’s risk of lethality. I’m currently working on a podcast and documentary on the family court system as well as launching a new organization based in feminist values and will be exploring a matriarchal society.
Recently, you testified at a Senate Hearing. What did you say? What was the experience like?
It was utterly nerve wracking as I usually take a back-end producer type role, rather than spokesperson role. I had two incredible women from WeSpoke collaborate with me on the testimony so I felt I was speaking on behalf of all women, not just a couple of cases. I spoke about what is really happening inside NY’s family courts and how predatory they are. I alluded to the collusion and corruption that takes place, which is only to be expected when there is no oversight, transparency or accountability. I provided a recommendation list of what our Senators could do to help change the system. (You can also watch the testimony at the Senate Hearing here, at the 4 hr 26 mins mark):
What are you learning in the process of working on this?
I am learning that there is no equality for women and we have no rights in the eyes of the law or constitution, that women are paying a very high price ever since “no-fault divorce” was enacted, and that no woman or child is safe or protected if she enters the family court system.
What are the positive outcomes you've had?
We are stronger together and no woman should be fighting this alone. I’ve built a sisterhood which has so many nurturing benefits.
What is the biggest challenge you've faced?
By far the biggest challenge is the herculean goal of wanting to change the system. There are so many legislative hurdles and push back from father’s rights groups. It's also been challenging to be in a space of traumatized women who are subject to institutional abuse, and still try to give them hope.
What is your best advice for a woman who might be considering a divorce?
If you or a woman you know is considering divorce, please have them connect with the women at WeSpoke. It's free. They will need to be fully informed before moving forward, especially if abuse is involved. Divorce attorneys will not protect you, and are often the people causing the most harm. If they can avoid the family courts altogether, that would be best.
I’d like other moms to know that as women we are all gifted with ancestral wisdom, but live in a patriarchal world that diminishes or mocks that gift. Embrace and honor your intuition.
Do you have advice regarding reinventing yourself?
We are always being given spiritual “invitations” to follow our calling. It may not be the life we planned or trained for, and we may try to suppress these messages, but be willing to say “yes” and then trust the unfolding.
“When women support each other, incredible things happen. Connect with your sisters and relish in your authentic self.” - Natalie Blundell
A few fun facts about you:
What are your favorite books?
Favorite books: Feminism For Women (Bindel) and The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible (Eisenstein).
What are some alternative careers you would have liked to have?
Acting and production!
Connect with Natalie at www.wespoke.org