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.)