Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Court Advocate

Today’s guest blogger is Sara Decamp, Hope House Court Advocate.

Imagine that the police were just at your house because your spouse assaulted you. Your spouse is arrested and the police leave you with a piece of paper telling you when your court date is. Would you know what to do next, and what to expect at court?

Photo courtesy of Sammylee at stock.xchng
Now imagine that you need protection from your abuser. Would you know the where to start or how to fill out paperwork?

I feel fortunate that I am part of a team that is able to assist victims in navigating through the often confusing court system. When people ask “What is a typical day like for you?” the real answer is there is no typical day. I can plan a day out in my head, but as soon as I hit the door that plan usually crumbles.

In the court program, we get police reports from the different departments and make contact with the victims by phone, letter or face to face, if necessary. What can start out a simple phone call to see how they are doing can turn into an all day event of trying to safety plan, filling out paperwork for orders of protection, perhaps finding shelter, or making more police reports for this one person.

When in court, we hear the stories that the abusers make up, see the intimidation that they try on the victims and see them, many times, escape consequences.

These are the tough points of the job; seeing a victim reduced to tears because she is terrified to testify or because there just wasn’t enough evidence and the abuser gets off on the charges.

It would be so easy to just throw your hands up and say “Why bother?” at this point. But when a victim who has avoided court in the past because of fear finds her voice and finally stand up to the person who has kept her down for so long, that trumps everything.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

She's Leaving Shelter... Now What?

I am often asked how we help people once they leave 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 we can and they want to receive our support and services.

Any client leaving our shelter can access our group and individual outreach therapy services, 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. Unfortunately, people sometimes encounter difficult times and just need a helping hand; we are fortunate to be able to assist our clients in those situations and hopefully prevent a crisis from occurring.

We can assist clients leaving shelter with items that will help them set up their homes. We are fortunate to have a caring community that blesses us with donations of furniture and household items. Those items can be passed on to our clients transitioning out of shelter, and those who are in our outreach program.

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.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Emotional Abuse

In an earlier blog I wrote about the different types of physical abuse. Today I would like to focus on emotional abuse.

In my experience, this type of abuse can be extremely devastating to the victim. Contrary to the children’s rhyme, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me”, words do and can hurt… and hurt very deeply.

Emotional abuse is a part of the pattern of controlling behavior. This is a particularly vicious way of hurting someone by cutting to the very core of their being.

Many of those who have been victims of domestic violence will tell you that it was the accusations, the name calling, and the demeaning words that really damaged their self esteem. The physical wounds healed, but the emotional scars take much longer.

Emotional abuse causes the victim to question their self worth, their ability to make decisions, their ability to parent their children, and their ability to really trust their perception of the situation.

They start to believe what is being said to them: that they are stupid, they will lose their children, they can’t survive without the abuser, they are ugly. The list goes on and on. They begin to question everything about themselves and their worth and value as a person.

The therapists at Hope House work with the clients on addressing the issue of their low self esteem and help the clients to begin to understand what has happened to them. They work with them to trust themselves and their decisions.

Healing from the wounds of emotional abuse can be a difficult road of recovery but it is wonderful to see someone blossom and become their own person again.

That is our work: to help guide people on their journey of self discovery. Sometimes for the very first time; other times, it is a reclaiming of their lost self. Either way it is an honor for us to accompany them on their journey.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hope Takes Flight Celebrity Golf Classic

We are looking forward to our upcoming Hope Takes Flight Celebrity Golf Tournament. The tournament is on Monday, May 23rd and we are still seeking sponsors and signing up teams.

The tournament is one of our annual fundraisers with the proceeds supporting our daily operations. Proceeds from our special events support a large portion of our annual budget.

This tournament is an opportunity for people to help Hope House but have fun at the same time. In my opinion, that is the best of all worlds: to help while having fun.

We start the day with brunch and then golfing on a wonderful course. Each team has a local celebrity join them in the festivities.

When they are finished on the course, they head in to the club house for more food and an opportunity to bid on items in our silent auction. Of course, it wouldn’t be a tournament without prizes for the top three winning teams!

If you haven’t joined us at this event, now is the time. It was a sell out last year, so don’t wait too long or you might miss out.

Teams and sponsorships can be purchased on our website. If you have questions, feel free to contact Libby at 816-257-9334 or