Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Theraplay - Enhancing the Bond Between Mother and Child

This week’s guest blogger is Thada Pulliam, one of Hope House’s Child Therapists.

When women arrive at Hope House with their children, there is often a disconnect between them. Mom may have been distancing herself from her child in order to keep her abuser's attention off the child and focused on her.

One of our goals when working with our clients is to enhance attachment, trust, self-esteem and joyful engagement between a mom and her child. To accomplish this, we use Theraplay.

Theraplay is a structured play therapy that focuses on attachment and relationship development.

Theraplay treatment can involve:

• Structured activities such as 1) the 3-legged race where the mom is providing direction; 2) mom directing the child to copy her eye or hand movements.

• Engaging activities:  1) the child hides a cotton ball within their clothes and mom must find it; 2) hand games such as creating a special hand shake, or playing patty cake.

• Nurturing activities:  1) mom checks the hands, arms, legs and feet for hurts, and then applies lotion with soft strokes while singing a lullaby; 2) while applying lotion to feet, mom recites “this little piggy”.

• Challenge activities: 1) mom places an item such as a book or pillow on the child for the child to balance; 2) thumb wrestling.

As a result of these activities, we hope to re-establish a sense of specialness, togetherness and fun between mom and her child.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How You Can Help

When I meet people and they learn I work at Hope House, often the first question asked is “what do you need and how can I help?”

The simple answer is:  there are so many ways! The following list is not exhaustive by any means, but are ideas to get you started.

• Make a donation to Hope House and utilize the tax credits that we have available. Money is our largest and most pressing need.
• Volunteer – help us in the office, with clients, or with special events.
• Organize a drive to replenish our daily living items for 104 in-shelter clients such as paper goods, toiletries, food.
• Collect cell phones and toner cartridges that we can recycle for cash.
• Invite us to your next group meeting so we can let people know about our services and how they can get involved.
• Come for a tour and learn more about what we do and generate interest amongst co-workers and family members.
• Sponsor a Jeans Day at your office.
• Organize an event for us and donate the proceeds to Hope House.

Be creative in your thinking. We are open to new ideas and would love to brainstorm with you. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions or ideas on ways to get involved.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Coming to Shelter

Coming to shelter can be one of the most intimidating steps a survivor takes on her road to escape abuse. Leaving behind all that she knows and all that she has can be scary.

The first couple of days in shelter will be spent adjusting to the new routines and getting oriented. Kids will need to be enrolled in school, if the decision is made to change schools. If she decides to keep the kids in their home school, that school is contacted to arrange transportation for the child.

Our goal is to make the shelter environment as home-like as possible. We want to make sure she and her children have stability, and feel safe and secure. We provide everything that they need: toilet paper, paper towels, tooth paste, shampoo and other personal care items, clothing, and meals. Residents don’t have to worry about spending money on these things because we are able to get most of the items donated by our caring community.

Each woman in shelter is assigned an Advocate. The advocates work with her to identify her strengths, areas of need, her goals, and obstacles to accomplishing her goals. To help her on that path, we offer individual and group counseling (for both women and children), parenting support and substance abuse counseling.

We do not have a set length of stay for shelter. We feel strongly that everyone’s needs are different. It’s difficult to say that in 60 days a woman will have her needs addressed and now it’s time for her to leave shelter.

We do not tell women what to do or what to think, but help them to determine what they want for themselves as they begin their journey toward a life free of abuse.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hope House's 24/7 Hotline

I am often asked how people come into our services and how they learn about all that we offer. The simple answer is they call our confidential 24-hour hotline number. Calling the hotline is often the first step a person takes to reach out to another person. It is frequently the first time that the caller has talked to anyone about what is going on in their home with their partner.

The hotline operators have many resources available to them to discuss with victims, family members or concerned individuals. You do not have to be a victim of domestic violence to call the hotline. If you know or suspect someone is being abused, you can call the hotline for resource and referral information.

When someone calls the hotline, we do not force them to make any decisions. We do not tell them what they should do. We offer resources and information so that the caller can make the best decision for herself. In domestic violence situations the ability to make decisions has been taken away. Our goal is to empower all of our callers to decide for themselves what is right for them, and what they want and need.

Whatever the caller decides, we will support. If she decides not to come into shelter, we make sure she has the information she needs and a safety plan in place. If the time comes that she decides shelter is for her, she will know what to do and will have the tools in place to make it happen.

The Hope House hotline number is 816-461-HOPE. In our last fiscal year we received 5,228 hotline calls. That is an average of 14 calls per day. There is someone from Hope House waiting to help you 24/7.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence

When animals in a home are abused or neglected, it may be a warning sign that others in the household are being abused as well. 

An abuser will use many forms of intimidation and threats to maintain power and control. If a woman is forced to watch her spouse kill the family pet in front of her and her children, she will think very hard about her next steps. It is very effective in keeping women in the relationship, feeling trapped and afraid.

According to

  • 71% of pet-owning women entering women’s shelters reported that their batterer had threatened, injured, maimed, or killed family pets for revenge or to psychologically control victims; 32% reported their children had hurt or killed animals.
  • Between 25% and 40% of battered women are unable to escape abusive situations because they worry about what will happen to their pets or livestock should they leave.
Abuse of a beloved pet can be the trigger for a woman to make the call to the hotline to seek services. But lack of a safe place for the family pet could be a reason she can’t enter shelter.

When a woman comes into shelter at Hope House, we are able to house their pets overnight. The woman and her advocate will contact other agencies that specialize in work with animals and will try to arrange temporary solutions for the care of the pet. But this does not help in the long term.

We are currently in conversation with Independence Animal Control to explore ideas that could help women with pets who are seeking our services. We want to eliminate the barrier that may be keeping a woman from realizing her dream of a life that is free of abuse for her, her children and her pets.