Thursday, January 5, 2017

Hope House helped woman gain courage to leave abuser

Featured Article | Max Londberg | LS Journal | October 5, 2016

To outsiders, a Lee’s Summit woman may have been envied for what appeared to be a healthy, even affluent marital life.
She lived in a large home overlooking water, and her husband, who made considerably more money, often treated her to vacations and encouraged her to spend lavishly.
But far from nurturing his wife, the husband was brandishing their financial means as a way to maintain a sense of dominance and control.
“By encouraging me to spend money, he knew I would assume that I could never get out of the relationship,” the woman said.
She said she was told every week by her husband: “Don’t ever think you could leave; you could never make it on your own.”
The woman wished to remain anonymous for this story. Over the years, she has told few people of the more than three decades she spent in an abusive relationship, “if nothing else out of fear of it getting back to him.”
She spoke from Hope House of Lee’s Summit, a domestic violence abuse shelter. This month is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the shelter and others across the country are raising funds to combat the many forms of domestic abuse.
For the woman and staff at Hope House, combating the problem is a 24/7/365 endeavor.
“It’s really difficult to talk about,” the woman said.
Today, she looks for signs of abuse in other women, and when she finds it, she encourages the victim to open up to her.
“I use the word ‘abuse’ a lot because they don’t recognize it as abuse,” she said.
As a child, the woman was raised in what she called an “abusive-type setting,” and her husband showed signs of abusiveness even before they were married.
“We tend to go into relationships because they’re familiar, not because they’re healthy,” she said.
For many years, she blamed herself for the toxic treatment she was subjected to. What begins as invective tends to escalate, she said, into other damaging forms of mistreatment. Her husband, seeking control, threatened her often, told her she could not survive without him and his income.
One in four women will be a victim of domestic violence at some point in her lifetime, and financial abuse is commonly wielded in an attempt to deter women from leaving.
Abusers, said Hope House CEO Mary Anne Metheny, are desperate to retain control in a relationship, and the attempts to subjugate their partners is borne of that need for superiority.
At the worst of times, the Lee’s Summit woman endured death threats.
“There were threats of physical harm: ‘Don’t you ever try to leave me. I’ll kill you if you leave me,’” her husband told her.
Finally, about 10 years ago, the woman discovered Hope House, which led her to a book about abuse. She credits “ The Verbally Abusive Relationship,” by Patricia Evans, for providing the perspective needed to fully recognize her plight and gain the courage to leave.
Hope House helped. The shelter works with women and sometimes men to develop a unique plan for leaving an abusive relationship safely.
“The most dangerous time is when (a victim) leaves,” Metheny said.
Death threats are not uncommon. Metheny said that domestic violence murders often occur in the period after abusers learn their victims are or are trying to leave.
“The reason for that is power and control — they don’t have it anymore,” Metheny said. “They have to increase their efforts to get it back.”
She added that combating domestic violence requires reshaping how we think about it. Today, too much of the onus is placed on the victim.
She doesn’t answer when people ask her why victims don’t just leave. “That’s not the question to ask. The question to ask is, ‘Why is he abusing her?’ And, ‘Why doesn’t he leave instead of her?’”
Finances and fear are the two main reasons women stay, Metheny said.
Hope House offers a range of services in Lee’s Summit and Independence, including 122 beds in its two emergency shelters, support groups, hotel placements, counseling services and others.
For the Lee’s Summit survivor, Hope House helped to liberate her.
“I am 10,000 percent happier than I was. People don’t have to live that way, but sometimes they can’t see a way out,” she said.
To Metheny, helping people find a way out is the goal of Hope House.
“Our goal is to empower people and really help them find their voice again,” Metheny said.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Physical Abuse vs. Fiscal Abuse

Most of the news about domestic violence focuses on physical abuse. But, not too many think of the hidden abuses that survivors and families face.

In some cases, fiscal – or financial – abuse can be just as debilitating for a domestic violence victim as physical abuse. The question, “why doesn’t she just leave” is often asked, and one of the answers to that question is finances.
·         Where will the survivor turn with no money?
·         If kids are involved, how will she provide for them if she does not have a job?
·         How can she apply for any mortgage or lease with damaged credit due to the abuser’s economic abuse?
These are questions that come up in 98 percent of abusive relationships. Economic abuse can take on different forms. It could be the abuser’s complete control over the finances, forcing the victim to ask for even a little money or as drastic as intentionally destroying the victim’s credit through credit charges or false claims.
In an article in Forbes Magazine earlier this year, a survivor describes her domestic violence relationship. While she was put on bedrest during her pregnancy, she quickly realized how much her husband was controlling the family finances. Spending more time at home, she started seeing credit card bills and eviction notices in the mail.
When she was able to go back to work, her husband went as far as calling her employer to find out exactly how much she was making. Things got progressively worse and escalated physically. In the end, she left him, but realized she had no economic knowledge. She applied for a job at a bank “on a whim” she says. Now, she is divorced, doing better financially and has a decent savings account.
Stories like this are not unlike those we hear from the survivors and families we help.
Just recently one survivor told Hope House supporters of a time when her husband became physically abusive after finding her secret stash of money she was slowly accumulating in a safe place so she could afford to leave with her children.
The stress of worrying about finances greatly restricts the victim from being able to escape. It destroys self-esteem because the survivor cannot provide for herself or children. And, it could even ruin the survivor’s financial future if her credit has been seriously damaged.
The economic impact of domestic violence is staggering. According to several studies, domestic violence costs the U.S., $8 billion annually in medical costs ($5.8 billion) and lost productivity ($2.5 billion).
The National Network to End Domestic Violence includes a list of examples of financial abuse on its website. Some include:
-          Not allowing the victim access to bank accounts
-          Withholding funds for the victim or children to obtain basic needs such as food and medicine
-          Stealing the victim’s identity, property or inheritance
-          Withholding money or giving “an allowance”
-          Filing false insurance claims
To view the full list, click here.
Tips to consider if you or someone you know is in a financially-abusive relationship:
-          Start acquiring all financial information for you and your family, including: birth certificates, bank statements, and other personal documents. Keep them with a friend or somewhere safe outside of the home
-          Get a copy of your credit report. You are able to get one credit report free of charge annually. Check with the three main credit entities (Equifax, Experian, Trans Union) for details
-          Find ways to earn a little cash on the side and have someone keep it safe for you
-          Work on your budget if you were to leave and plan accordingly
And lastly, if you have more questions, contact our hotline at 816-461-HOPE (4673).

If you would like to support survivors and families of domestic and financial abuse, check out the Purple Purse Challenge fundraising page at

Monday, September 14, 2015

Hope & All That Jazz 2015 attendees: ‘This was the best Jazz ever’

The deep red cloth was strewn from the ceiling. The white orchids in gold bowl centerpieces sat gracefully on the tables. The silent auction items were placed strategically on the display tables. The mouth-watering smell of the steak medallions and risotto filled the air. The festive music and laughs could be heard through the hall to the main lobby.
The 26th Annual Hope and All That Jazz was said to be the best Jazz ever.
“I’m just worried now how we top this in 2016,” said Stefanie Shanks, Hope House special events manager. “I’m ecstatic that the guests had such a great time. The music was great. Everyone loved the auction and bidding through their phones. The live auction was exciting. I couldn’t be more thrilled that everyone had a great time.”
The evening began with cocktails and appetizers during the silent auction period. The auction featured items such as sports memorabilia, artwork, food and wine, trips, a frame with two autographed photos of the legendary B.B. King, a grill master’s barbecue set, and much more. Attendees were able to walk around, having a great time visiting with friends rather than hovering over silent auction paper bid sheets.
“This year, we did mobile bidding,” said Shanks. “This allowed participants to go wherever they wanted during the silent auction, because all they needed was their smart phone. We received so much feedback about this, and we’ll definitely be doing it again next year.”
Once the silent auction was over, guests entered the ballroom, where dinner was served. The options for the evening were steak medallions with seafood cake and roasted tomato and peppers, or vegetarian risotto cake with spaghetti squash. Dessert consisted of a chocolate truffle mousse terrine with passion fruit crème brulee.
After dinner, the evening’s emcee, Kris Ketz of KMBC-TV9, welcomed everyone to the 26th annual benefit and turned it over to Hope and All That Jazz 2015 Chair Peter deSilva of UMB.
“Domestic violence of any kind is a stain on this and every other community in America,” said deSilva. “As a society it should be a top priority to eradicate domestic violence in all of its ugly forms. Given that we will unfortunately not likely eradicate domestic violence completely, the next best thing to do is to fully support those affected by it.”
DeSilva was then joined on stage by Hope House CEO MaryAnne Metheny, who introduced former Independence Mayor Barbara Potts. Metheny then awarded the Blue Springs Police Department with the annual Barbara Potts Award.
“The Blue Springs Police Department understands the seriousness of the crime of domestic violence and has contributed to the change in culture in how victims are treated and abusers are held accountable,” said Metheny. “In 2011, they agreed to participate in the Lethality Assessment Program, which provides a more comprehensive approach to how domestic violence incidents are handled on the scene.”
Once the award was presented to Blue Springs Police Chief Wayne McCoy and Domestic Violence Det. Anda Offenbacker, the evening’s keynote speaker provided her remarks on her own personal domestic violence relationship.
“I was very young – in my teens as a matter of fact – when I became a mother and got married,” said CiCi Rojas, president and CEO of the Central Exchange, and former Hope House board chairperson. “I found myself with three small children and caught in a very abusive marriage, very simply because of pride and wanting to provide a home for my children with two parents.”
Worried about their disappointment, Rojas hid the abuse and shame she felt from her parents and friends. Soon, her abusive husband would discover her intentions to leave and beat her to the point of unconsciousness.
“I knew I had to escape for me and my children,” she continued. “I had to regain my confidence and my self-worth. So, I set out to change my life. There are many women and children that benefit from Hope House. But, it’s not about the shelter and services so much as it is about the aspirational benefit, the renewal of confidence and self-esteem that ignites the desire to survive and find the power to thrive.”
Her moving speech brought tears to many in the room.
“It made a huge impact on everyone in attendance,” said Shanks. “When you have a keynote presenter who can show the true emotion in her story, it makes it easier for others to understand exactly what survivors and families are going through in their own homes.”
The evening’s festivities continued with Kansas City’s famous auctioneers, the Nigro Brothers. They encouraged all to participate in the Fund-A-Need segment, where attendees raised their bid numbers to fund services offered by Hope House.
Then, it was on to the live auction that included a puppy, a trip to a winery in Oregon, a stay in sunny Florida, a mink coat, dinner with Chiefs’ Quarterback Alex Smith, a diamond necklace and more.
“The Nigro Brothers always make the live auction fun,” Shanks continued. “This year, there was a lot of excitement with the diamond necklace and the puppy. I think what made the auction great this year was the variety of items. We certainly had something for everyone in attendance.”
Once the auction ended, it was time for the real fun to begin. KOKOMO played live music while patrons danced the night away on the dance floor that was embossed with the Hope House golden sun logo. Although some turned in early, others decided to stick around and close the ballroom down – proving even more that Jazz 2015 was one for the record books.
Overall, the event raised more than $370,000 that will benefit Hope House’s general operating budget. The domestic violence agency that offers Missouri’s most comprehensive services will provide safe shelter, outreach therapy, food, court advocacy and much more to survivors and families of domestic violence.
“Without our caring community growing Jazz each year, there is no way we would be able to serve the thousands of survivors and families that we do,” Metheny said. “I remember the day of personally putting together centerpieces in a small banquet hall for 300 people. Now, having over 600 people in attendance, yet seeing so many longtime friends, I know we’ll be serving this community for much longer.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

5 ideas for helping someone you suspect is in an abusive relationship

Throughout my 22-year
5 Tips To Help Someone In A Domestic Violence Relationship
career in the domestic violence field, I’ve seen almost anything you can imagine as it pertains to abuse. Being out in the community, I hear more people asking, “What do I do if I suspect someone is being abused?” Or, “What do I do if someone comes to me looking for help?” There is a social stigma associated with domestic violence, and sometimes people feel they are helping, but - although they mean well – the advice can hinder the survivor more. Below are five ideas for helping someone you suspect is being abused or who has come to you for help:

Believe them – Often family and friends are not aware that abuse is occurring in someone’s life, which results in survivors feeling alone and isolated. They may be working hard to keep the abuse from those they care about, which can result in them feeling as if they are living two lives. They may be hiding the abuse due to fear, shame, guilt, embarrassment or a variety of other reasons. When they decide to come forward and ask for help, one of the worst things people can do is say, “Oh he wouldn’t do that.”  Not believing a person is in a domestic violence situation can be devastating for that survivor and push him/her even further into isolation and feelings of shame and embarrassment.

Listen –In many cases, domestic violence survivors have no one to talk to or turn to for support. Abusers constantly shame and isolate their victims. Abusers don’t let their partners spend time with friends or family. This alienation reinforces point one and contributes to the survivor’s feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness.

Just listening can be life saving for that person experiencing abuse. The survivor may not be looking for help, just someone to be with; someone who will listen, believe them and not judge them. In some cases, this is the survivor’s way of thinking out-loud. One thing to remember when listening is that even though you may give advice, the decision is ultimately up to the survivor as to the best course of action to take. Multiple factors  go into the decision to leave or not to leave, and ultimately it is up to the survivor to make that decision, but he/she will still need support and a listening ear - whatever the decision. Research shows that it can take a person an average of seven times to leave a relationship before they are able to leave for good. So patience may be required.

Don’t offer ultimatums – Friends want what is best for each other. It is easy to think your relationship means more to a survivor/friend who seeks advice. However, it can be an extremely difficult decision for a survivor to take that step and leave. Do not force the friend into a decision to leave. Abuse is about power and control. Most likely, for a majority of the survivor’s relationship, she/he has been powerless to the control the abuser has over them. If you push a friend into an ultimatum to leave, you are one more person who is trying to take away the survivor’s power and make the decision for him/her.

Be ready with resources – As a supporter of Hope House, you already know we serve survivors and families who suffer from domestic violence. Our hotline is an easy number to remember – 816-461-HOPE (4673). You can direct them to our website – There, we have examples of warning signs, our hotline number and a listing of all our resources so they know exactly how we can help. We also offer support to family and friends. If you feel you need support, please call our hotline and we can talk with you about your needs around your family member or friend who is experiencing domestic violence.

Additionally, you can discuss having a safety plan. If the survivor has a friend or relative they can escape to in times of great fear, talk about this with them. Ask if they have an emergency kit with clothes, money or other necessities if she/he has to escape in a hurry. Talk about avoiding rooms with items that could be used as weapons. If there are weapons in the house, know where they are and avoid them if possible. Discuss possible ways to get support at work if the abuser is harassing them at the office. How can the survivor change his/her use of technology? Some ideas include changing passwords to cell phones and email or on-line accounts, changing on-line accounts to one with only the survivor on it, getting a new cell phone or new computer, checking to see if there are monitoring devices on cell phones, on-line accounts, computers and vehicles. These are just a few ideas you can offer. You can check out our Safety Plan Tips for a more comprehensive list of items to consider in safety planning. Each situation is unique, so it is important to look at all factors and it is ok to be creative in creating solutions for safety.

Be patient – Again, do not be discouraged if nothing happens after your conversation. Fear, children, finances and many other factors can constrain the survivor’s ability to leave. You may not be aware of all the factors in the relationship, so don’t jump to any conclusions that the survivor doesn’t “really” want your help or isn’t listening. Help the survivor document, be a friend and listen, help create a safety plan and be ready to help if they decide to leave and need your help.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Lesson Learned From Clinton - Stop The Victim Blaming

With the tragic loss of Sandra Sutton (in Clinton, Missouri) due to domestic violence, there has been more discussion about domestic violence, how does it happen, why does it happen, why don’t people leave, and why don’t they call the police. There are so many questions because domestic violence is so complicated. There are no easy answers and the answers can challenge our way of thinking and shatter our vision of a peaceful and happy existence.
If someone has never experienced domestic violence or been exposed to it, the thought that someone who is supposed to love another person could hurt them in a violent way is hard to understand and wrap your arms around. The thought that someone could be kept in a box for months is something that even those of us who work in the field of domestic violence have to take a break and regroup. It takes your breath away as you imagine that horror. It made me sick to my stomach to imagine the horror she experienced. It made me cry.
That type of act is hideous and unthinkable. But yet, it happened here in our state of Missouri. This is the case we know about. Unfortunately, it is probably happening to someone else and we just don’t know it.
But why does it happen? Why does a relationship get so out of control?
That is where the difficulty in understanding comes in. There are so many reasons. But, even when you hear the reasons, it is hard to make sense of it. Even if you understand the origin and the thought process, coming to terms with such heinous acts is difficult.  How does a person get so out of control that he does something like that to his partner? Then, the even more unthinkable happens; she gets away and he hunts her down and murders her and her 17-year-old son.
How does someone do that? How does someone become so filled with hate and rage that they can do that? The answer is so simple, yet very complex – power and control. He had to have complete power over his partner, he went to unimaginable lengths to control her, and when he lost that control he committed the ultimate act of domestic violence: murder to regain that power and control. If he couldn’t control her and have complete power over her, then no one else would either, especially her. He wouldn’t allow her to make her own decisions and to live her life the way she wanted. He made sure of that when he murdered her and her son.
The important thing to remember is, it was not her fault!
She is not responsible for being murdered or kept in a box. She escaped and he tracked her down and he killed her. She is not to be blamed for this horrible act. It doesn’t matter if she called the police or didn’t call the police, or if she filed for a protection order or didn’t file for one. It was NOT her fault.
We cannot blame the victim for the things that happen to them. We must focus the attention on the perpetrator of the violence and the crime. But yet, somehow in domestic violence situations we blame the victim. We look at what she did or didn’t do and make it somehow her fault instead of looking at the perpetrator and placing the responsibility there and there alone.
If we are ever going to end domestic violence, it will be when we hold perpetrators accountable and break the cycle of violence. We must take responsibility as a society that domestic violence is allowed to happen. Whether it is a push, punch or kept locked-up in a box; it is wrong and must be stopped. We must work together to address the issue, we must shift the conversation from why didn’t she leave, why didn’t she call the police, get a protection order, to violence is not okay, and we must stop it. We must not allow our conversations to continue the abuse of the victim by blaming her, and we must all agree that violence is never the answer, violence is not okay.
If you want to learn more about domestic violence and the resources that are available and how you can help, please visit If you are in need of help please call the metro domestic violence hotline: 816-HOTLINE.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Black and Veatch engineer makes World of Difference for local domestic violence shelter

What started more than 20 years ago with the donation of two outdated appliances has blossomed into one Black and Veatch employee making a world of a difference for one local domestic violence shelter.

Brent Rupp, a project electrical engineer at Black and Veatch, has donated his time, goods and financially to Kansas City metro domestic violence shelter, Hope House.

Now, through Rupp’s dedication to helping the non-profit, Black and Veatch Building a World of Difference Foundation awarded Hope House a $5,000 grant to help alleviate the negative effects of domestic violence and inform the public about the issue.

“Hope House has always been appreciative of any help they receive,” said Rupp. “It makes it a real joy to help in anyway. So, I’m very happy to be able to present the donation to Hope House from Black and Veatch’s Building a World of Difference Foundation.”

Rupp stated that throughout his involvement with the non-profit, it is the positive attitudes of the staff and volunteers that keep him coming back to help and made him want to do more through the Black and Veatch Building a World of Difference Foundation.

“We are so grateful for supporters like Brent,” said MaryAnne Metheny, CEO of Hope House. “His volunteerism and dedication serves as encouragement for our team. The fact that he’s taken his efforts that extra mile and acquired this grant shows his commitment to the issue, and the survivors who need our services.”

Rupp has been a financial supporter of Hope House after donating the kitchen appliances. And, for the past several years, Rupp and his wife began volunteering. They have participated in Hope House’s Starlight and Chilifest fundraisers. And, his wife, Mary, volunteered her own time and encouraged their daughter’s Girl Scout Troop to donate time at the shelter as well, while Mary served as troop leader.

“When I was looking to donate the appliances, I didn’t know Hope House existed,” said Rupp. “But, my friend encouraged me to work with them, and since then, Hope House has always been a place we support. The relationship has really strengthened over the years.”

And, it strengthened despite a year on a different continent. Between 2011 and 2012, Rupp was in South Africa working on a Black and Veatch coal plant project. It did not take long for him to reach back out to Hope House upon his return. After making it back to the States, he began working with the Lee’s Summit Knights of Columbus and served as an acting spokesman for Hope House.

“It is my hope that, in addition to the help the donation will provide to Hope House and its mission, we may also raise domestic violence awareness and the role Hope House plays to combat the issue,” said Rupp. “I look forward to further involvement with Hope House and hope to build a relationship with Black & Veatch and the professionals who may not be aware of Hope House and the good they do.”

The Black and Veatch Building a World of Difference Foundation was established with the aim of providing a platform for the company and its professionals in supporting a variety of philanthropic organizations like Hope House and other programs worldwide.

“Last year, Hope House provided more than 41,000 safe nights in shelter, answered more than 5,400 domestic abuse hotline calls and provided therapy to more than 420 survivors,” Metheny said. “The foundation grant will go a long way to ensure we continue to help the survivors who have taken that courageous first step to leave an abusive relationship.”

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Top 4 Reasons to Attend Hope House's Margarita Ball 2015

Friday, April 24 from 7pm to 11pm
At Club 1000 - 1000 Broadway, KCMO 64105

Hope House’s Margarita Ball is one of KC’s premier dance parties where you can do good while having fun!

Party-goers will enjoy unlimited margaritas, cocktails and tapas, a silent auction with high-valued items, three floors of entertainment (basement is VIP area only – check sponsorship opportunities for more information). And, back by popular demand, DJ Ashton Martin will be spinning tunes and Lost Wax will be playing live music through the night.

Find out more by visiting