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.