Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Katie Piper's Story

I found myself once again watching 20/20 on a Friday evening, this time without my daughter. The story was too graphic and painful for her, so she chose to sit this one out.

The story was of Katie Piper, a young woman in her 20s living in London. She was a model and a budding TV presenter. She was enjoying her life, her job, and the successes she was having. She met a young man, Danny, and they began dating. It was then her world fell apart.

In retrospect she saw the red flags were there immediately. He was possessive, jealous, controlling, easily angered, and wanted to move very quickly in the relationship. One evening he took her to a hotel room and brutally raped and abused her for over eight hours. She was only able to leave after she convinced him that they could still be a couple. She was so frightened by what had happened she didn’t leave her “flat” for two days and didn’t talk to anyone.

Danny bombarded her with emails and phone calls. She finally agreed to leave the flat to go to an internet cafĂ© to get an email he had sent her. What she didn’t know at the time was that Danny was on the phone with Stefan Sylvestre, giving him a description of Katie. Stefan met Katie on the street and threw a cup of sulfuric acid in her face.

Katie survived the attack, which happened March 31, 2008. She has endured countless surgeries and pain so severe that at one point she begged her mother to kill her. She endured the trial of Danny and was grateful when he was given two life prison sentences; one for arranging the attack, the other for the rape.

She had peace of mind for now that he couldn’t hurt her again, as he will serve at least 16 years. Her sentence, however, is for life. She will never be “over” the attack. She will always have scars and physical injuries that will need treatment. The fear doesn’t ever really go away.

Katie was so courageous in telling her story. Her story is horrific and the damage done to this young woman was beyond imagination. But she did survive! As did her will and her determination. She has made amazing progress in her physical recovery as well as her emotional recovery. She is an amazing young woman who has been through more than anyone should ever have to endure.

I am thankful for her telling her story, as hard as it was to watch and comprehend. She is a survivor and an inspiration for all who have been victimized by someone who was supposed to care about them. She has given me continued hope and strengthened my determination to continue the quest of ending the violence.

To read the story or watch the video:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Red Flags of Abuse

Most relationships do not start out abusive but there can be signs or what we call “red flags”. Sometimes the red flags are immediately obvious and other times it may take a while to see them.

Red flags can include a partner who:

• Insists on moving too quickly into a relationship.

• Does not honor your boundaries.

• Is excessively jealous or possessive.

• Criticizes your appearance or makes frequent put-downs.

• Does not take responsibility for their behavior and blames others for their failures or difficulties.

• Has a history of battering in other relationships.

• Blames the entire failure of an earlier relationship on their partner.

• Has a very stereotypical view of sex roles.

• Insists that you stop participating in leisure interests or spending time with your family or friends.

• Tells you how you "should feel" or tries to talk you out of your feelings.

• Seems that they may be "too good to be true".

• Makes frequent and harsh derogatory remarks about others.

• Is very impulsive and shows signs of raging out of control.

As we work with victims to create safety plans, we have to find out what tactics have been used against them and what threats exist so we can make a safety plan tailored to their situation. This helps start the healing process.

Remember, Hope House’s 24 hour hotline is 816-461-HOPE (4673). We are always available if you feel you are in an abusive relationship and you need someone to talk to or are in need of safe shelter.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Stalking Awareness Month

January 2010 marks the 7th annual National Stalking Awareness Month.

This month offers the opportunity to highlight the services that are available and to draw awareness to the issue and the impact it has on our society.

Stalking is a crime of great magnitude. More that 3 million people older than 18 are stalked annually in the United States. It is a criminal offense under the laws of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Territories and the federal government.

1 in 12 women and 1 in 45 men will be stalked in their lifetimes, and the majority of victims are stalked by someone they know.

What is Stalking?

Stalking is defined by Missouri law as purposely, repeatedly and intentionally harassing or following someone. How does this translate to behaviors? Victims are followed in their daily activities - to work, to the grocery store, to their friend’s house. They receive repeated phone calls and hang ups - some threatening, others where nothing is said. They can receive calls at work disrupting their work day and threatening their jobs.

Victims can also be confronted with their car tires being slashed, windows and doors broken in their cars and homes. What may not seem so threatening - but to a stalking victim it can be terrifying - is to have flowers or gifts delivered to their work or their home.

With the advancement of technology we are seeing stalking taking on different forms - GPS devices attached to cars, computer technology allowing the stalker to see activity and emails, tracking information from cell phones. Every aspect of life is invaded and threatened.

The Effects of Stalking

Being a victim of stalking is extremely frightening. Victims can experience, anxiety, insomnia, social dysfunction, lost work hours and productivity, and severe depression at a much higher rate than the general population. Stalking victims are forced to take drastic measures to protect themselves, such as relocating, changing their phone numbers, changing their identities, changing jobs and obtaining protection orders.

76% of women who were murdered by their intimate partner had been previously stalked by their killer, and more than half of these victims reported the stalking to the police before being murdered. 81% of women stalked by a current or former intimate partner are also physically assaulted by that partner.

Help is Available

If you are a victim of stalking or you know someone who is, there are resources available. Hope House has a 24 hour crisis hotline 816-461- HOPE (4673). Another resource is the Stalking Resource Center at that has a wealth of information for victims and those who want to get involved to help. Awareness is the first step in our efforts to stop this horrible crime.

Source: 1The Stalking Resource Center. (June 2009) Stalking Fact Sheet 2Tjaden, P., & Thoennes, N. (1998). Stalking in America: Findings from the National Violence Against Women survey. National Institute of Justice and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Research in Brief. Washington, DC: U.S. Department

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Building Hope Capital Campaign

We are so excited about the progress of our capital campaign, Building Hope, a $5,000,000 campaign for our Independence campus.

This campus consists of eight acres of beautiful property that was gifted to us in 1993 from the Community of Christ Church. When we received the property it had two existing buildings which we renovated to create the Court and Legal Services Building and the Therapy Building. We then built two new buildings, the Shelter and the Early Childhood Center.

Key Elements of Building Hope

The Building Hope Capital Campaign consists of these key elements:

1) Renovations to the four existing buildings.
 2) An addition to the Shelter for increased storage of food and clothing.

3) A new 10,000 square foot Therapy Building.

4) Creation of a Community Partnership Building by renovating the current Therapy Building.
  • This will give us space to accommodate all of the wonderful community volunteers who are willing to offer services to our clients, but due to lack of space, have not been able to provide those services on-site. 
  • The Community Partnership Building will have a Medical Room equipped with an exam table and a dental chair, a salon with a hair dressing station, a room for massage therapy, and a room for computer work. There will also be space for other professionals wanting to offer their services to our clients.
Challenge Grants

We are so fortunate to have two challenge grants for this campaign. The J.E. & L.E. Mabee Foundation from Tulsa, Oklahoma issued a $525,000 challenge to us in January 2009 to raise $4,197,979 by January 14, 2010. The Kresge Foundation from Troy, Michigan issued a $600,000 challenge to us in December 2009 to complete the $5,000,000 fundraising campaign.

These challenge grants are designed to help organizations successfully complete their capital campaigns by assisting in securing further contributions. The money is received from the foundations once the challenge is successfully completed.

January 14th is next week and we are so excited to have reached our goal for the Mabee challenge and have $435,000 to go to complete the Kresge Challenge and the entire campaign.

Tax Credits Available

If you are interested in helping us with the Building Hope campaign, please let me know by emailing me at or calling 816-257-9331. We have Missouri tax credits available, which is a great way to stretch your gift and enjoy a tax benefit as well.

I look forward to keeping you up to date on all of the progress we make on completing the campaign and for progress updates once construction has started.