Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy New Year

We look forward to the new opportunities that await us in this coming year. I always start the new year with hope and anticipation of things to come, and this year is no exception.

We are doing amazing things at Hope House. I feel incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to work with so many fantastic people and to help our clients transform their lives.

I continue to be in awe of the strength of those who have been affected by domestic violence and their perseverance to not only survive, but to thrive.

We have had an eventful year and I know the upcoming year will hold many surprises and wonderful new things for all of us.

I wish you all a Happy New Year filled with many blessings!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Life After Shelter

Picture by Jonathan D.Bloom at

I am often asked how we help people once they move out of our shelter.

That answer will depend on what level of involvement a client wants to have with us and what needs she has. We will continue to work with clients as long as they want to receive our support and services.

Any client leaving our shelter can access our outreach therapy services, both group and individual for both herself and her children. We are able to offer our Transitional Housing program to some of our clients, which is extremely helpful for those who are facing obstacles related to employment and housing.

If a client is struggling and needs temporary assistance with food, clothing or other necessities, we can help with that as well, and hopefully prevent a crisis from occurring.

We can assist clients leaving shelter with items that will help them set up their new homes. We are fortunate to have a caring community that blesses us with donations of furniture and household items.

We will work with clients on an individual basis and try to assist them with whatever their needs are. If we are not able to help them, we will work to find someone that can. We are known for being creative and figuring out solutions to the problems presented.

One of the most heart-warming things we can do for our clients is the Holiday Store. Moms and kids get to shop for holiday gifts for each other, and it’s free because our community has donated all the gifts.

The kids are thrilled when they get to choose something nice for their moms. And the moms are usually in tears, knowing that their kids might not have had a Christmas without the Holiday Store.

If you’d like to help us help our clients have a brighter holiday, please see our Holiday Store wish list. We are especially in need of gifts for teens and moms. Our store opens this weekend, so we’re ready to start stocking the shelves. 

Thank you for caring about these woman and children that you’ll never meet. Especially at the holidays, you make all the difference in their lives.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pre/Postnatal Support Group

Today’s guest blogger is Tracy Pickering, Prevention Specialist for Hope House.

Research has shown that women in domestic violence relationships are 25% more likely to experience postpartum depression, increasing to 60% if the woman is in shelter. 

Birth Trauma
One of the newer areas of treatment of postpartum depression is birth trauma. Birth trauma is post-traumatic stress that occurs following the birth of a baby. It can be the result of:

  • a history of domestic or sexual violence
  • non-consensual or forced pregnancy
  • having the abusive partner in the delivery room
The symptoms resemble other types of post-traumatic stress including:
  • nightmares
  • flashbacks of the birth
  • detachment from the baby
In one case, a mom reported having flashbacks of sexual abuse she experienced as a child every time she looked at her baby. I have had several women report being so depressed after the birth of their baby that they thought about killing themselves and their child.

Pre/Postnatal Support Group Formed
In light of this, Hope House started a pre/postnatal support group. We’ve found that the support the clients receive from each other is the most important element. The group offers an opportunity for the women to honestly discuss their feelings about their pregnancy and not feel judged. They seem amazed that other women have the same feelings.

The group offers a supportive environment to discuss the pros/cons of keeping the child, or offering the baby for adoption, without any judgment or guilt.

The clients can discuss their fear of how they will take care of a baby when they don’t have finances to support the children they already have, embarrassment that they are having another child in the circumstances they are in, and their confusion about how the abusive partner will fit into their child’s life.

It is a powerful experience to see the women start to embrace the pregnancy instead of trying to run from it. It is highly important that moms resolve these issues before the birth so that they can be present and focused on the baby, creating the safest, most bonded environment possible.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Photo by Jenny Steffens Hobick @
It is that time of year when we stop to give thanks for all of our many blessings. We at Hope House are extremely blessed.

We are blessed to be a part of this wonderful community; a caring community that reaches out to us in so many ways. People are amazing in how creative they are in helping us with our many needs!

Here are a few examples of things that people have done for us in the past that may give you a great idea for how your family, office or church can get involved with Hope House:

- Invite your neighbors over and ask them to bring a new, unwrapped gift for our holiday store. In return, they get hot chocolate and cookies made by your kids.

- Teach a Girl Scouts group how to crochet and have them create tiny blankets for our newborns.

- Hold a wiffle ball tournament with a percent of entry fees coming to Hope House. Get your kids’ schoolmates involved.

Did this list get you thinking creatively? If so, contact our Volunteer Manager, Gretchen, at 816-257-9342 or to discuss the details.

We thank you for your support and for thinking of us throughout the year. We couldn’t do the work we do without the involvement of our community. We are grateful to everyone who has touched our lives as we work to break the cycle of domestic violence.

We wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Penn State Scandal

Jerry Sandusky photo by AP.

This past week I have been following the news from Penn State and learning about the alleged horrendous abuse that occurred over many years to innocent young children.

I understand that Jerry Sandusky has claimed his innocence of these allegations; however, I read in horror that many people knew about “suspicious” activity occurring but they never followed through or did anything to investigate.  

It is so familiar to hear people respond by saying, “He was a coach and founder of a children’s charity. How could he do this? How could he be a well-respected member of the community and a sexual predator of young children at the same time?”  

In Mr. Sandusky's case a court of law will determine his guilt or innocence, but every day there are those that appear to be model citizens who torture and abuse innocent victims behind closed doors. It is unimaginable to think they could be a coach, a minister, or a judge. It goes against our way of thinking that people can perpetrate such hideous crimes against others, especially children.

We see victims of domestic violence every day who have struggled alone in silence because they didn’t think anyone would believe that their abuser, a respected upstanding citizen, could also be a torturer at home. I heard the same thing reportedly said by those young boys: they didn’t feel they could say anything because no one would believe them or care.

Unfortunately, in this situation, it certainly appears those were valid concerns. People did see the abuse happening, reported it and nothing happened. How can any child feel that they should continue to report? 

What threats are made to hold them hostage in the vicious cycle of abuse?  There are so many similarities to how domestic violence and child abuse occur: trapping victims and perpetuating the belief that they are alone, no one cares, and nothing can be done to stop it.

My heart goes out to all those who have experienced abuse by someone they love or trust. I am sickened that it took so long for this to come to light. How many victims could have been saved endless torture and years of recovery had someone stepped in to help them?

We must all speak up when we see someone being abused; we may be their only hope. We must stop the abuse that is happening in our society before another innocent person becomes a victim. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Judge Beats Daughter With a Belt

I was horrified at the video released by Hillary Adams that showed her father, Judge William Adams, beating her with a belt and cursing at her extensively. WARNING: this video is extremely graphic and very difficult to watch.
Her mother, Hallie, is also seen hitting Hillary with a belt and yelling at her. Many of the videos’ commenters ask what would possess a mother to allow this to happen, and worse, participate in the cruelty?

Hallie reports that she was also a victim of domestic violence, was brainwashed and had to do everything her husband said.  Is it possible that Hallie participated to the extent that she did to try to keep her daughter safe?

My first thought when I saw Hallie in the video was that she is a battered woman and is doing this to protect her child. If she can make her husband think she agrees with him, then she might be able to calm him down. If she participates and hits Hillary with the belt herself, then maybe he will stop. Pure speculation on my part, but something I’d like you to consider.

Many say if abuse is going on in the home, the mother should leave.
 In this situation, Judge Adams is a Family Court Judge; he makes decisions every day on who gets to keep their kids and who doesn’t! It’s quite possible Hallie felt that if she left her husband, she would lose custody of Hillary. What are the chances Hallie would have retained custody? 

Wasn’t Hillary better off with Hallie in the home acting as a mediator and working to protect Hillary from her father? What if Hallie did leave and lost custody? Hillary would have been in the home alone with her father, with no mother to help protect her. As counter intuitive as it sounds, sometimes staying is the safer option.  

I am not suggesting that exposing children to child abuse is a good thing.
  I am only pointing out how difficult the choices are that a mother often has to make. Most of the mothers I have worked with care more about their children than themselves.
I am not defending Hallie’s actions; I’m just trying to make everyone look at the situation from another point of view. Let’s remember that the monster in this story is Judge Adams, not his battered wife.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The $10,000,000 Wedding That Lasted 72 Days

Photo by
I must admit that I do watch some reality TV but I have not been a follower of the Kardashian Family… that is until recently.

It’s hard not to know what is going on with this family since the big wedding and now the big divorce.  The family is everywhere. I‘m perplexed by the interest in them and their never-ending adventures.

But now, I’m so angry that I have found myself watching and listening when the media reports the Kardashian’s newest drama. I don’t know why I do this since it raises my blood pressure and causes me to use words that are highly inappropriate!

Why am I angry?

Because these people waste money just because they can. I am sickened by the fact that 10 MILLION DOLLARS was spent on one wedding. REALLY?! What does someone need to have at a wedding that costs $10,000,000?

I understand that people have different standards than I do, but again I say: REALLY?! You must spend that type of money?

Since the big wedding I have been spouting off to anyone around me who will listen about this outrageous spending. And now that the marriage lasted a whopping 72 days, I am even more livid!

What does their spending have to do with me?
Do you know what $10,000,000 could do for non-profit organizations? I cringe when I think about how many lives could have been saved if that money had been donated to the domestic violence programs across this country.  Hope House alone serves over 10,000 people every year through our programming. How many more could we serve and assist with $10,000,000, or even $1,000,000? 

Lives are at stake every day in the work we do. We scramble for every penny we get, and yet the Kardashian’s reality is so different from ours that they can throw away millions of dollars for a party. That is just plain wrong and it is shameful.

I am so grateful for all of the supporters that we have. Sometimes they don’t have much themselves, yet they consider others and their needs. They are helping us to break the cycle of violence every day.

I can only hope that someday Kim Kardashian and others who have so much will look at the resources available to them and say, “You know what? I have enough. Instead of throwing this money down the drain, I am going to donate it to a worthwhile charity.” 

Until then, I am afraid those around me will continue to hear me rant.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Do You Know a DV Victim?

Are your sister and niece

Can you tell by looking at someone that they are or have been a victim of domestic violence? Absolutely not. Just as you can’t look at someone and know where they are from, or what they do for a living.

Survivors of domestic violence often survive alone and in the privacy of their own homes. It can be so difficult to share their pain and the difficult reality of their family life with others.

Those who have been victimized often feel a sense of shame and embarrassment. To me, the last person who should feel embarrassed is the victim. The one perpetrating the abuse is the one who should be riddled with guilt and shame, but too often that is not the case.
Is your co-worker being

So, how do we know who is being victimized? It’s not that we want to know out of some perverse sense of wanting all the gory details, but from the place of how can I help? What can I do to make their situation better? How do I intervene? What can I say to them? 

These are all questions I hope that everyone is asking themselves about their loved ones and friends. I encourage you to:
  1. Visit our website and learn more about the services Hope House offers so you can share this information. 
  2. Visit, sponsored by the Liz Claiborne Company. It has all kinds of educational information including warning signs to look for.
  3. Call our hotline at 816-461-HOPE (4673) any time day or night. Our advocates can give you advice on how to talk to and help someone you suspect is being abused.
  4. Better yet, encourage the victim/survivor to call us. We won’t try to make them do anything they don’t want to do. We won’t call the police or insist that they come in to shelter. We’re here to help, even if that’s only lending a compassionate ear.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Chairperson Kerry Oliver (R) with
Nancy Woodworth.
This past Sunday we hosted the 4th annual Howlin’ for Hope, sponsored by Carter Energy. This event was held at the dueling piano bar, Howl at the Moon, which is located in the Power and Light District.

I’d like to offer a special thanks to Kerry Oliver, of Carter Energy, for chairing this exciting event.

The dueling piano players created a fun, music-filled atmosphere and lots of opportunities for patrons to get on stage and join them for laughs, and the chance to win prizes. But most importantly, it helped Hope House raise desperately needed funds.

This event raised about $22,000! The money will be used for capital needs (i.e. home repair type projects) at our Lee’s Summit campus. We have over $300,000 worth of projects that need to be done. 

We have drainage issues that need to be addressed on the grounds. There’s also work to do in shelter. The wear and tear our buildings take is truly amazing. But when you consider that both shelters house over 1,100 people every year, it isn’t surprising that they need major upkeep. 

We plan to replace all of the carpet in the shelter with tile, which is easier to maintain, and creates a healthier, cleaner environment for our residents. With so many people in and out of the shelter, carpet is difficult to maintain.  

We will work with other sources to raise the remaining funds needed for all of our capital projects. We’re fortunate that we’ve already received funding for some of the projects through the Goppert Foundation. To close the gap, we have requests out to other funders, as well.

In addition to funding, we’re always looking for groups to help us with the labor for our capital projects. For example, a group of Home Depot employees are currently priming and painting all the exterior trim for the entire Lee’s Summit campus. Other groups have done interior painting, tiling, and landscaping.

Do you belong to group that would like to get involved in a project? Please contact our Volunteer Manager, Gretchen, to discuss the possibilities: 816-257-9342 or

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Topeka, KS Repeals Domestic Violence Law

Outrage, disbelief, horror:  these are all the feelings I have had since hearing about the Topeka, Kansas City Council and their decision to repeal their domestic violence law.

You can read more about it here. 

I first saw an email about it and I immediately thought it was a hoax. I contacted a Kansas colleague and asked if this was true. To my absolute horror, it wasn’t a joke.
Anthony S. Bush/AP Photo
How did the city of Topeka come to this? The County District Attorney refused to prosecute misdemeanors due to budget cuts. Last year half of their misdemeanors were domestic violence cases.

Then the City said they couldn’t afford it either. So what was their solution? Repeal the law so domestic violence is no longer a crime in the city of Topeka in a play to force the County to step up.

REALLY?! That’s your solution? For the city and the county to play games with people’s lives is outrageous and unacceptable.

Victims of domestic violence do not matter to them; they are nothing but a cost to the city - one that they don’t want to incur. So the most vulnerable citizens are tossed aside in a political game to see who will give in first.

It makes me both incredibly sad and angry. We have worked so hard to let victims of domestic violence know that they matter; that they are worthy and deserving of a better life. We’ve worked to let them know that they don’t have to live in fear; that just because they are in a relationship with somebody doesn’t mean they can be abused.

The City of Topeka shattered that in one vote. Victim advocates in Topeka must start from scratch. They and the victims they work with are in my thoughts. Hopefully, someday soon the politics will be over and victims of domestic violence in Topeka will have the protection they deserve. But how many lives will be lost while they wait to be thought of as more than a budget line item?


UPDATE: After the City of Topeka voted to repeal their domestic violence law and a national outcry ensued, the County District Attorney’s office has decided to once handle the prosecution of these cases. However, the domestic violence law is still repealed in the City of Topeka.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

One of these four girls will experience domestic violence in their lives.
Photo by memoossa @

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Every year in October programs across the country work to bring more awareness to this devastating issue that affects so many people in our country and across the world.

At least 1 in 4 women at some time in their life will be a victim of domestic violence. That means if I stood in a room with my mother, sister, and one co-worker, one of us will have been touched by domestic violence! It’s shocking when you put it in perspective like that.

For so long this issue has stayed behind closed doors. It was never discussed because it was a “family issue”. The more we can do to bring it into the light, the closer we are to ending it. 

Even if you are not in a relationship that is violent, this is an issue that affects us all. Why? Because the cost of domestic violence to the US economy is more than $8.3 billion1. This cost includes medical care, mental health services, and lost productivity (time away from work and getting less done for not being able to focus on work).

On top of the economic issues, domestic violence is everyone’s issue because we have an obligation to look out for our fellow human beings. It’s not ok that people live in terror every day. It’s not ok that children are afraid of their fathers (or mothers).  It’s not ok that a teenage girl is hounded with hundreds of texts from her boyfriend asking “where are you?” and “who are you with?”  

By bringing attention to the issue, we are also letting people know that help is available. Please visit our website: to see what you can do to get involved. Lives depend on it.

1Max W, Rice DP, Finkelstein E, Bardwell RA, Leadbetter S. The economic toll of intimate partner violence against women in the United States. Violence and Victims 2004;19(3):259-72.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What Does An Abuser Look Like?

Photo by Ale Paiva @

What does an abuser look like? Can you pick out an abuser walking down the street? Do they have outward signs that they are abusive?

If we could tell that someone was abusive by the way they looked, then it would be so easy to stay away from them and never get involved in the first place. Unfortunately, none of the abusers I have come into contact with have ABUSER tattooed on their forehead.

Abusers can be anyone. They are doctors, police officers, judges, politicians, plumbers, teachers, and even ministers.  There is no set of demographics that can be tied to abusers.  They are in all socio-economic classes, races, ages, religions and educational backgrounds.

There is no typical abuser, but they do appear to have some common characteristics such as jealousy, possessiveness, and low self esteem. Their sense of identity is tied to their partner. Abusers are not “out of control lunatics” that you can just pick out in a crowd. They are everyday people that terrorize their loved ones in their own homes. 

Their abuse is controlled and targeted only at the partner and sometimes their children. They are not attacking strangers on the street or getting into brawls with strangers. They are focusing their energy and abuse on their family.

You will recall that domestic violence is about power and control. Abusers want to keep their loved one under their control by whatever means necessary.

There is still research to be done on abusers: what makes some people abusive and others not, especially when they have watched this behavior as children and grown up with it. Why do some go on to abuse and others not?

There are still many questions about the human personality that remain unanswered. I am very interested in learning if abusers have anti-social personality disorder? Are they sociopaths? There is more work to do in this area to learn the answers to those questions.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Day In the Life: Women's Advocate

Our guest blogger today is Lori, a Hope House Women's Advocate.

As a Women’s Advocate here at Hope House, I have many different roles.  No day—or hour for that matter—is ever the same. 

Today when I came into work, I spent the first few hours providing general support to the women and children who reside in shelter: 
  • helped a client her medications
  • helped a client take her child’s temperature
  • put new sheets on the beds for an incoming family
  • assisted a group of clients in working out a laundry schedule

Advocate answers the hotline.
Photo by nota @
In the midst of all of that, I answered the 24-hour hotline, which is where most women first access Hope House services.  The woman on the hotline told me that her husband is verbally and physically abusive towards her. Her husband has been drinking tonight and she knows that she and her children are not safe staying at home. We make arrangements to bring them in to shelter.

When this woman and her children arrived in shelter, I made sure they had something to eat, and that they had no immediate medical needs. Then, I completed an intake process with her where I gathered general information about her situation and needs.

Tomorrow, I will meet with her again to provide her with information about power and control, red flags, the cycle of domestic violence, and safety planning.

I spend the next couple of hours of my shift meeting individually with the women who are assigned to my caseload.  During these individual meetings, I assist the women in recognizing their personal strengths and in setting goals. I provide a variety of resources and information to empower the women to make progress towards their personal goals.

No two days are ever the same in shelter, so I have learned to be very flexible. Although working as a Women’s Advocate can at times be a busy job, being able to provide support and assistance to the women in shelter is my passion. It’s most definitely a rewarding job!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Back to School

Photo by gugacurado @

It seems like just yesterday I was writing about how kids spend their summer days in shelter and now it’s back to school time. As we say goodbye to summer, we welcome the fall and the new schedules that it brings to shelter.

When a family comes to shelter, one of the first tasks is to enroll the children in school. When deciding on where her children will go to school, Mom has to weigh the risks of the children attending their home school versus the challenges that come with starting in a new school.

It is so important to get the children into a routine and get their schedules in order. This structure can help the children feel “normal” and feel like they have some control. Living in a home where there is domestic violence can create chaos and a feeling of being out of control. It’s amazing how normalcy, routine and structure can really help a child to feel calm and more relaxed in their environment. 

Photo by hvaldez1 @
When kids are dealing with trauma and violence at home, they often struggle in school, finding it hard to focus and stay on top of things. Once in shelter, there is a focus on helping to make school a priority and addressing any educational issues that children are facing.

We always have a need for volunteer tutors to help the children get caught up and to work with those who are struggling and facing challenges. If you can spare some time to help a child with their schoolwork, please contact Gretchen at 816-257-9342 or

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

United Way

Greater Kansas City United Way (GKCUW) will be kicking off their 2011 campaign on September 8th. Hope House is proud to be a United Way partner agency. We recognize the good work done through United Way, and we will be involved in the campaign as well.

2011 United Way Campaign Focus

For this year’s campaign, GKCUW will focus on education, income and health.
  • Education strategies will focus on helping children and youth attain their full potential.
  •  Income strategies are helping people achieve financial independence and stability.
  • Health strategies are focused on helping people and their neighborhoods to be safe, healthy and thriving.
  • All strategies are focused on ensuring that people in Greater Kansas City have all the building blocks for a good life.

How United Way Helps Hope House

We do our part to work with United Way to ensure they have a successful campaign. If their campaign is successful, then the agencies they fund will be more successful as well.

Approximately 6% of our budget comes from United Way, funding our shelter and our therapeutic services. We agree with United Way that when people are safe they have a better chance of being healthy and thriving.

How Hope House Helps United Way

Our partnership includes participating in the United Way Day of Caring and assisting with the campaign. We have our own internal campaign with our staff members and we will go out to the community to talk with other businesses. If your company doesn’t do an internal campaign I encourage you to start one this year.

If your business does a United Way campaign, you can request a speaker from Hope House. We would be honored to come to your place of work to talk about what we do and how your dollars help us meet our goals. If you’re interested, please contact Gretchen at or 816-257-9342.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It Can’t Happen To Me

Photo by Ben Earwicker, Garrison Photography

Many people tell me they have never known anyone who was a victim of domestic violence.  Yet, the statistics tell us that nearly three out of four (74%) Americans personally know someone who is or has been abused by their partner.  

The sheer volume of people who have had domestic violence in their lives makes it difficult for us to not know someone who been affected by domestic violence.

The Statistics
The statistics show that one out of every four women will at some point in her life be impacted by domestic violence. That’s 25% of the population! It’s staggering to think of the number of people who "know” domestic violence; who have lived it and experience it on a daily basis. With numbers like that, it’s amazing to me that so many people think it could never happen to them.

All Demographic Groups Are At Risk
When you look at the statistics about domestic violence you’ll see that it affects everyone.  Some groups are more at risk, but no one is immune.

·         Women ages 20-24 are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.
·         Women of all races are about equally vulnerable to violence by an intimate partner.
·         Intimate partner violence affects people regardless of income. However, people with lower annual income (below $25K) are at a 3-times higher risk of intimate partner violence than people with higher annual income (over $50K).
·         On average between 1993 and 2004, residents of urban areas experienced highest level of nonfatal intimate partner violence.
·         Approximately one in five female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.

We all need to be aware of what domestic violence is, how it occurs, and what to do if you find yourself in a violent situation, because unfortunately, it can happen to anyone.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call our 24/7 hotline at 816-461-HOPE (4673) or visit the Hope House website.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Safety Net

If you look on our website or in our brochures, you’ll see:

“Hope House services form a safety net of prevention, education and support for more than 10,000 victims of domestic violence every year.”

So what does the term “safety net” mean?

What’s a Safety Net?

Photo by Stephanie Bennett Vogt
When a woman enters shelter, her life has just taken a drastic turn. A million thoughts are swirling through her head:
  •          How will the kids get to school?
  •          Where will they get clothing to wear to school?
  •          Where am I going to live now?
  •          I was a stay-at-home mom. How will I survive without an income?
Hope House provides a web of services - a “safety net” - to keep her afloat so her life doesn’t continue to spiral downward.

Services Included in the Safety Net

The safety net includes services to handle immediate needs like:
  •          A safe place to sleep
  •          Help figuring out how she’ll get to work/the kids will get to school
  •          Clothing and personal items
  •          Three meals a day
But it also covers long-term needs such as:
  •          Help finding a place to live
  •          Help with legal issues like divorce or custody
  •          Therapy
This list doesn’t begin to list all the services available. Our advocates also help our clients navigate the maze of services available from other agencies like applying for government assistance, or getting mental health counseling.

Photo by Lisa Truscott @
Think Trapeze Artist at the Circus

Just like the trapeze artist at the circus whose life depends on the safety net that will catch them if they fall, Hope House services are here to keep a woman from hitting rock bottom while she transitions from being a victim to being a survivor.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Inner City Myth

Valerie Avore/The Epoch Times

A common myth of domestic violence is that it only happens in the inner city; it doesn’t happen in the suburbs. This myth is very similar to the misconception that it only happens to poor people.

For some, it can be very difficult to believe or acknowledge that something so horrible could be happening in your neighborhood, by people you know and care about. It’s easier to think it only happens in segments of society; to “other” people.

So it’s common to assign it to a group that you are not a part of, whether that be poor, rich, suburban, inner city, white, black, Christian, Muslim, or non-believer—whatever “label” you want to assign so it’s not a part of you and your world.

Unfortunately, domestic violence transcends all worlds so it will intersect with you at some point. It happens everywhere, to every group of society.  We can’t ignore it, and we can’t assign it to someone else so we can avoid addressing it.

If we are ever going to end the cycle of violence, we must first acknowledge it and then address the underlying problems.

Hope House has two locations in the suburbs of Kansas City.  We are full every day with people from suburbs across the metro area. It IS happening here.

The Lee’s Summit location was started after three women were murdered by their husbands. How many homicides does Lee’s Summit have in one year? Not many— most years, none. To have three in one year was eye opening for many.  It moved a group of people to start the fundraising so we could have a shelter in the city to address the need.

We must see it as it is, acknowledge it, and work toward solutions. It takes a village to raise a child and it takes the entire community to stop the violence. Together, we can break the cycle and work toward a future where there is no domestic violence.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hope & All That Jazz

Our largest fundraiser of the year is fast approaching. Hope and All That Jazz will be held at the Muehlebach Hotel on August 20. Festivities start at 5:30.

The event activities include fabulous food and drinks, the opportunity to bid on some of the best auction items you'll ever see, dancing to the sounds of the Kerry Strayer band, and an opportunity to spend time with friends and learn more about Hope House.

It isn't too late to join us! For ticket and sponsorship information, go to the Jazz page on our website, or you can contact Libby at 816-257-9334 or

For the first time, we're starting the Jazz festivities a couple of weeks early! We've set up an online auction which features unique items like you’ll find at our Jazz event such as:

A Danger Zone Flying Experience where you’ll be flying the plane in dog fight. Hello, Maverick?
An autographed Eagles Greatest Hits album, signed by all the original band members.
Sporting gear like a Nike golf shirt and a wind jacket that has sleeves that detach at two different lengths.

The online auction continues through 5PM CDT on August 16. Get registered now
 and join in the fun! 

The proceeds from the online auction and the Jazz event support our daily operations. The dollars raised are crucial for us to maintain the level of programming we currently offer. By participating in this event, you could have a great time, and help to save lives. What could be better than that? We look forward to seeing you there.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summer in Shelter

Photo by kevinrohr @
For those of us in Missouri and most places around the country this has been a scorcher of a summer. We’ve tried hard to make this hot weather as bearable as possible for those who are in shelter. We’re grateful that the air conditioning has worked most of the summer… just one outage for a few hours, and it was fixed immediately.

Besides the heat, what exactly happens around shelter in the summer? The same things that happen at your home in the summer: parents work, some kids go to summer school, and other kids play and enjoy their time off from school.

We strive to make the summer as much fun as possible for the kids staying here. We have water play days where they can run through sprinklers, and play on Slip ‘N’ Slides. They ride their bikes all over the campus.  You can hear them squealing as they see the fish swimming around in the water garden. They even go on field trips. But mostly, they do what kids do everywhere: they have fun.

There are some up sides to being in shelter. There is always someone to play with and always someone to talk to. It seems that boredom isn’t an option for our kids; there are too many things going on and too many fun possibilities.

Kids in shelter also have the opportunity to spend time with the Children’s Therapist. This can be very fun; working through issues and obstacles doesn’t have to be a chore.  It can be done through art and play and is just as therapeutic and long lasting as other traditional forms of therapy. This time with the therapist allows the children time to focus on themselves, and their needs, and to work through the issues of the trauma that has gone on in their lives.

I’m grateful we’re able to provide the children with everything they need so that they can focus on what they need to be doing: just being kids.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

3rd Party Events

What is a 3rd party event? Rather than being hosted by Hope House staff, a 3rd party event is hosted by someone in the community for the benefit of Hope House.

Events are varied and have included: 
  • % of sales for a given time period
  • golf tournaments
  • music events
  • donation for Hope House in exchange for admission to event 
The great part of it is that the sky is the limit! We are so excited when we hear a new creative idea that will help us.

We have several 3rd party events are coming up. Participating in them is a fun and easy way of showing your support for Hope House.
  • August 1 through August 8 - Brio Tuscan Grille at 500 Nichols Rd in the Plaza will donate 20% of your purchase when you mention Hope House.
  • Macy’s is having their Shop for a Cause event on August 27. Tickets are $5 and you receive 25% off all your purchases either in store or online. Hope House is able to keep all of the money from the sale of the tickets. You can purchase tickets by calling Libby at 816-257-9334 or visiting the Shop For A Cause page on our website.  
  • Birdies Fore Hope is a women’s golf tournament on October 3 at Oakwood Country Club. For tickets or sponsorships, call Libby at 816-257-9334 or visit the Birdies page on our website. 
If you are interested in hosting a 3rd party event, please feel free to email us.  We would love to hear from you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Community Partnership Building

We are excited to have our new Community Partnership Building ready to begin offering services to our clients. We renovated the old Therapy building to make space for a medical/dental room and a new salon room.

We have been truly blessed to have so many people offer to help in the past. But it’s been a struggle finding a way to get the clients to the clinic or salon that is offering their services. Transportation and child care are on-going issues that we have had to overcome in order to utilize these donated services.

This new building will allow us to offer these services on-site, thereby eliminating transportation and childcare issues.

So far we have received:

  • a dental chair
  • an medical exam table
  • a grant from KC Impact to purchase the necessary supplies for the medical room
  • an X-ray machine
  • dental tools
  • blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, thermometers 
  • shampoo sink and chair
  • salon chairs
  • dryer chair

We are still looking for supplies for our salon room. We are in need of curling irons, hair straighteners, blow dryers, scissors, and products for perms, coloring, etc.

We are interested in working with anyone that is a dentist, doctor, nurse, nurse practitioner, or hair stylist that is interested in coming to our Independence campus to offer services to our clients.

If you know of anyone that might be willing to donate their time and services, please encourage them to contact Gretchen at or 816-257-9342.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Kids and Philanthropy

One of the best parts of my job is getting to meet our donors and connecting with those who care about our work as much as I do. I really love to meet the young people who are learning about philanthropy in a very real way.

Kids learn about us through their schools, many which are now requiring a certain number of community service hours for graduation.  For some, it’s a family tradition. Others just want to give back and choose us as their recipient. We work to accommodate the interests of each of these kids. Most often, they come up with something really special on their own.

One such young person is Chandler, whose grandmother gives him $10 for every “A” he receives in the school year. Last year he saved all the “A” money he received, $300 to be exact, and he went out and bought items from our Urgent Needs List to donate to us. We were thrilled when he brought in mountains of toilet paper, diapers and paper towels, among other items.

We have had several kids who asked their birthday party guests for a donation to Hope House in lieu of gifts. How special to be able to put others’ needs before your own, especially on your birthday. I know that is so difficult to do at any age.

Playground built by Justin

We’ve had boys working on their Eagle Scout projects that choose wonderful projects at Hope House. Most recently we had Justin, 15, who completely renovated our playground on the Independence campus. He turned a blank space into a wonderful play space for the kids in shelter.

Young people are able to connect with others in need in ways that are so uplifting and truly inspirational to me. I’ve realized that you’re never too young to want to help others, and it’s our job to help these kids attain their goals to help those in need.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Domestic Violence Doesn't Discriminate

Photo by Gronvik @
One of the most prevalent myths about domestic violence is that it only happens in poor families and in the inner city. Statistics clearly demonstrate that this isn’t the case at all.

Domestic violence crosses all socio-economic levels and happens in the inner city, the suburbs and in rural areas. There are no boundaries. However, we do have some trends.

· Intimate partner violence affects people regardless of income. However, people with lower annual income (below $25K) are at a 3-times higher risk of intimate partner violence than people with higher annual income (over $50K). Please note that those with less resources are more likely to report incidents of violence.1

· On average between 1993 and 2004, residents of urban areas experienced highest levels of non-fatal intimate partner violence. Residents in suburban and rural areas were equally likely to experience such violence, about 20% less than those in urban areas.1
Our statistics show that 87% of the women in our shelter are at poverty level. We know from our work with our clients that those who come into shelter have fewer resources. Shelter is often the only resource they have available to them.

Research is less available regarding women of higher socio economic status, but we do know that they don’t seem to choose to enter shelter. Perhaps this is due to feelings of shame, lower levels of reporting the abuse, or a wider network of resources available to them.

Even if a woman lived in a middle or upper class home, when she leaves the relationship her socio economic status can change dramatically. She may immediately find herself homeless and penniless.

Clearly, the violence is happening to all economic levels. It is our goal to reach all of those impacted by domestic violence and ensure that they are aware of the resources available to them and have the means to access them.

1 From the Domestic Violence Resource Center: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S. 1993-2004, 2006.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Lethality Assessment Program

In May we were able to work with the Safe Family Coalition to deliver cookies to all of the police officers that have been a part of the Lethality Assessment Project (LAP) as a way to say thank you for their commitment to those who are impacted by domestic violence.

The LAP was started as a pilot project with the cities of Lee’s Summit, Grandview, Raytown and Kansas City police departments. The police partner with the local domestic violence agency in carrying out the program, which is based on research on lethality for battered women.

The program is simple: when police respond to a domestic violence scene, they ask the victim a series of research-based questions. The way the victim answers these questions can determine the level of lethality for that victim. Based on the answers, the police officers will talk to the victims about safety and the concern that they have for the victim.

The officers then call our hotline and speak to an advocate with the goal of getting the victim to speak to the advocate. They will safety plan, discuss resources - such as shelter - and to make a follow up appointment to further discuss the situation.

The program has worked extremely well. The pilot project ended in October of 2009, but all participating departments have continued with the program. We have also added the Blue Springs police department to the list of participating departments.

We know that only 3% of domestic violence homicide victims had ever availed themselves to services prior to their deaths. We, as DV programs, have worked to reach this group of victims but have not had much success. Through this program, we are able to reach this very high risk group of people.

We are grateful for the participation of all of the police departments, the administration and the officers that complete the surveys. With the support of the officers on the street, we are working to save lives.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Are Battered Women Crazy?

Photo by coloniera2 via
 Many people think they are because they don’t leave right away, they return to the abuser after they have left, or they think that the abuser is going to change. But the short answer to the question is an emphatic “NO”. Battered women do not like the abuse, they do not ask for the abuse, they are not stupid and they are not “crazy”.

Battered women are an extremely resourceful and very strong group of women. They endure so much and figure out a way to survive and cope with what is happening within their families. They carry feelings of shame and hurt, mistrust, lack of hope, low self esteem, and abandonment.

Battered women know better than anyone else how to make a very bad situation one that will work for the time being. When someone doesn’t leave immediately it doesn’t mean she asked for it or that she likes it. What it means is the timing isn’t right for some reason.

Battered women make decisions based on the resources available to them at the time. Hope House works hard to make sure women know about our services and the ways that we can help. We never want “lack of resources” to be a reason that someone stays in the relationship longer.

No, battered women are not “crazy”. They are normal people in incredibly difficult circumstances doing the best they can.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Help Us Win Pepsi Refresh Project

People are buzzing and there is great excitement at Hope House as we have made it into the voting round for the Pepsi Refresh Project. We have tried for months to get our project in with no success, until this month!

What is Pepsi Refresh? Pepsi is funding ideas that “refresh your world”. They say if we can dream it, submit it and get enough votes, they will help make it happen.

We hope to win $50,000 to help provide free legal services to domestic violence victims. We ask that everyone vote for us and share this information with your friends.

You can vote three ways every day:

1) Through this link: You can log in through your Facebook account, or sign up for a Pepsi account. Or do both and get more votes!

2) Scan this QR code with your smartphone to easily vote by text (download the reader for free from your app store). Or text 107076 to 73774. (Standard text messaging rates apply.)

3) Get Power Votes on specially-marked Pepsi products. Click on “Power Vote for this idea” on the Hope House Pepsi Refresh page. Enter your power code and get up to 100 extra votes.

We need to be one of the top 10 vote-getters in our category to win $50,000. Please support us and vote every day throughout June to help us give our clients the support

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Guardian Program

Today’s guest blogger is Kelli Stallman, Coordinator for the Guardian Program.
Hope House’s Guardian Program provides supervised visitation or exchange for non-custodial parents and their children. Our client families are mainly ordered into supervised visits by Adult Abuse Courts, Family Court, or Children’s Division.

These families have issues that range from domestic violence, child abuse, substance abuse, mental health issues, or a parent never having been in a child’s life.
Because of the many problems that are faced by these families, the Program is arranged so that custodial and non-custodial parents park in different parking lots, and arrive at different times to avoid any chance meetings.

We have therapists supervise the visits between the non-custodial parent and the child. An off-duty police officer is on site at all times. The families receive an hour of visitation a week free of charge, and can schedule additional time for a fee.
As the Coordinator for the Guardian Program, I have the pleasure of working directly with the survivors of domestic violence, as well as their children who have witnessed the violence between parents.
Often times, the children have themselves been victims of some type of abuse. The Guardian Program staff also work directly with the non-custodial parent, which is often the identified abuser. My job is extremely rewarding. I watch the kids grow and change, and see them heal from the abuse they have seen and experienced.
When I have a child from the program run up to give me a hug and a huge smile, it hits home why I do the job I do. How often do you get a card from a child you barely know thanking you for what you do, or drawing you a personal Christmas card? I am fortunate to receive several of these every year.
Sometimes what is thought of as the hardest job, by nature of its requirements, can be the most rewarding. I look forward to the drawings, the hugs, and the smiles that greet me when the kids come in. That is what I look forward to each day.