Thursday, December 27, 2012

Happy New Year

The New Year is almost here. This is a great time to celebrate the possibilities and reflect on what was and what is yet to be.

We are excited about the coming year and all that it has to offer all of us. We continue to work hard to create new programming that will meet the needs of our clients and offer the best possible services.

We are grateful to everyone who has been a part of our family and look forward to our continued work together this next year. We have so many wonderful volunteers and supporters who are so giving of their time and resources. It truly does make a difference.

I continue to be in awe of the strength of those we serve. They have strength beyond words. They are not only surviving but they are thriving. I am grateful to them for their courage and look forward to what the New Year has in store for us. I know it will be positive and full of blessings.

I wish you all a Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Is Domestic Violence Ever Justified?

Is there ever a time when domestic violence is justified? If someone was using drugs, is it ok for them to be beaten?  Is it ok because the victim has a “big mouth”? When is someone an “acceptable victim”?
I read a headline recently:  Michael Wayne Jones Allegedly Beats His Girlfriend with Her Dog”. Apparently, Michael Wayne Jones argued with his girlfriend when she was trying to smoke crack with her daughter.  He punched his hand through the windshield, grabbed her dog, and proceeded to swing the dog and hit her with it as if the dog were a club. His excuse was “She was doing drugs.”

Does that make her deserving of being beaten?  Many of the people who posted comments beneath the article thought so.
I hear these statements a lot:
  • “She must have done something to deserve to be beaten.”
  • “She must like it if she doesn’t leave.”
I must say I am still affected by these statements even after 20 years. I don’t know of anyone that likes it or asks for it. Yes, some people do drugs. Yes, some people yell and are loud and argue. Yes, some people swear and can be crude, but does that mean they deserve to be beaten? My answer is “No”.  
No one deserves to be beaten.
I have this to say to the abusive person:
“If you don’t like your partner’s behavior then you have choices to make.  You can try to work it out peacefully, you can go to counseling, or you can leave. You have choices. Please don’t choose to continue the cycle of violence. Please stop making excuses and blaming the victim.  Stand up and accept responsibility. Stop the violence.” 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

To Kasandra and All Those Who Have Lost Their Lives

I think by now most people have heard about the tragic events of this past weekend in Kansas City.

Jovan Belcher, a Kansas City Chiefs football player, murdered his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins before he committed suicide in front of his coach and the General Manager of the Chiefs.

The couple has a 3-month old daughter, Zoey, who is now alone, to be raised without either of her parents.

I have been asked what my response is to this tragedy.  My response is the same that it is every time a woman loses her life due to domestic violence: it is horrific; it is a tragedy; it is senseless and needs to stop.

The difference between Kasandra and the other 13 victims who have lost their lives this year in Kansas City is that her boyfriend was a Kansas City Chiefs player. 

The other victims this year have not gotten the attention of the media as Kasandra has, and that is also tragic.  The very concerned reporters I spoke to acknowledged that there has not been enough attention paid to domestic violence homicides. They were shocked at the statistics, not realizing how prevalent DV homicides really are in our society.

I hope that something positive can come from this senseless tragedy. I hope that people will have a better understanding of the severity of domestic violence; understand that it is happening everywhere and every day.

DV is a crime that must be stopped. We all need to make an effort to end this hideous cycle. Domestic violence advocates have more work to do in educating our community about the problem, what resources are available, and what can be done.

We all need to work together to ensure the safety of our neighbors, our friends, and our family members.

I have a commitment to those who have died, those who survived the attacks on them, and to their surviving children:

“I will work to ensure that your death and your attack were not in vain. I will continue to honor you and your sacrifice by working to ensure that others don’t go through what you went through; that other children will not be left orphaned due to domestic violence.

“That is the least I can do for you. You gave your life. I will use mine to continue the fight in your honor and hope that others know what a sacrifice you made. That is a very small thing that I can do for you. I am so sad that you are not here, but I will continue to fight for you and for your children, and all of those who are touched by domestic violence.“

I have been doing this work for over 20 years and I have never found it as difficult as I do today. It is with a heavy and very sad heart that I take on this day and the challenges it presents. I pray that I do this work with integrity, with commitment, and with those who lost the battle foremost in my mind at all times.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Bingo with the Mavericks

We are hosting our 3rd annual Bingo with the Mavericks event on Wednesday, 12-12-12. What a fun night that will be!

This event is very family-oriented, and kid-friendly. The Missouri Mavericks hockey players call the Bingo, sell extra game cards and good luck charms, and mingle with the crowd. It’s fun for all and supports our critical life-saving services at the same time.

We are so grateful to the Mavericks for choosing Hope House as one of their charity partners again this year. We have had the opportunity to attend the Mavericks games and sell Chuck a Pucks, plus set up a booth to distribute our information to the fans.

Awareness is so critical in the fight against domestic violence and these opportunities to reach thousands of people with our services are so helpful.

Festivities start at 6PM at the Hilton Garden Inn in Independence (map it). You can purchase tickets online for $15 for adults, $10 for children under the age of 12. Ticket includes one reusable Bingo card and additional ones can be purchased from the Maverick players for $5.

Sponsorship opportunities start at $250 and are still available.  You can call Libby at 816-257-9334 for more information.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo by Jenny Steffens @
I can't believe that it's already the middle of November and Thanksgiving is here. It's the time of year when we stop to give thanks for all of our many blessings.

At Hope House, we are thankful every day and feel extremely blessed. We are a part of this wonderful community; a caring community that reaches out to us and helps us in so many ways. 

People are amazing in how they give back. The care and concern they have for their neighbors and fellow human beings is heart-warming.

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

We wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I Love My Job

I love my job. I get to experience something new every day and have the opportunity to enjoy the smiles and the joys of accomplishments and achievements. Those times just make me smile.

The other day I was in our parking lot going to my car to go to a meeting. I was running late and was preoccupied. But I stopped in my tracks and smiled when I saw this young boy bound out of a cab that was returning him from his day at school.

His younger sister was waiting for him. She squealed with delight when she saw him, started jumping up and down and said, “I am so glad to see you! How was your day?!”

His mother was standing there as well, and met him with a big hug and a smile. They were so excited to see each other, that they didn’t notice me there. That was a good thing, since I got teary-eyed and emotional.

I am so happy that we are able to provide a safe place for families to be where they can focus on healing and enjoying the simple pleasures in life. Young ones can go about the business of learning; coming home from school is a time to celebrate. Families are able to focus on rebuilding their lives and moving on from the trauma they have experienced.

We would not be able to provide the opportunity for this growth to take place without the support of our community. Thank you to each of you who have helped us grow and thrive. To all of you who provide your time, your talents, and your resources, we are grateful.

The result of your contributions is evident everyday in the lives of the people we work with.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Lethality Assessment Program

I have written about our Lethality Assessment Program in partnership with area law enforcement agencies in the past. This tool allows police officers to discuss with a victim the risk of being killed if they stay in the relationship. 

The tool is a series of questions the officers asks the victim. Based on the victim’s responses, the officer can determine the chances of the victim dying at their abuser’s hand. It has allowed officers the opportunity to engage in conversation around victim safety in a way that is meaningful, with facts from research to assist in the conversation. 

It has also opened the door for Hope House staff to have conversations with very high-risk victims that we were not able to reach in the past. It has been remarkable and exciting to be a part of this program.

We have been thrilled with our continuing work with Raytown, Lee’s Summit, Grandview and Blue Springs Police Departments. The tool has proven to be very useful for both Hope House staff and police officers. 

I am very excited that the Independence Police Department recently joined the program. We are grateful they are committed to addressing the issue of domestic violence.

Together, we do make a difference in the lives of those victimized by domestic violence.  To break the cycle of DV, it takes the hard work of everyone in our community. This program is doing that, one person at a time. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Emotional Freedom Technique

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

Today’s guest blogger is Rita Witt, Vice President of Clinical Services for Hope House.

Hope House has long been aware that domestic violence victims are at high risk for post-traumatic stress. Our therapy department has consistently pursued treatment approaches and training to best prepare the therapists to assist our clients in addressing the effects of trauma in their lives. 

Therapeutic approaches have always included simple, empowering techniques and information that clients could continue to use on their own after they left Hope House. Among those approaches are some in the field of energy psychology.

Energy psychology is based on the principle that the body, like everything in the universe, is composed of energy which flows through the body by means of a meridian system. While this is a relatively new idea is the Western world, the healing concepts that it's based upon have been in practice in Eastern medicine for over 5,000 years.

Like acupuncture and acupressure, this approach consists of techniques that utilize the body's energy meridian points.  Energy psychology treatments have both a psychological component and a mechanical/energetic component.

One such energy-based approach used at Hope House is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). A fundamental principle of EFT is that all negative emotions are a disruption of the body's energy.

By tapping, or stimulating certain meridian points with the fingertips, literally tapping into the body's own energy and healing power, one can restore balance to the body's energy, and mend the negative emotions and physical symptoms that stem from the energy disruption. 

Because of this simple and empowering effect, Janet Howard, Hope House Substance Abuse counselor, reports her clients have been especially successful in using it to address addiction.

Using this simple method, the client can take her physical and emotional well-being into her own hands. It's simple for anyone to master; it is non-invasive, highly specific, has no side effects, and best of all, it's free.

If you’re interested in learning more about EFT, please visit

Friday, October 26, 2012

October is DV Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Every year in October, programs across our country bring awareness to this issue that affects so many people here and across the world. DV is vicious and traumatic. We need to talk about it, not just in October, but all year long, until it stops.

How does talking about it help? Once you know what DV is, you will start to recognize when it’s happening to someone you know: your neighbor, your classmate, your co-worker, your sister, your mother, or maybe even yourself.
Once you recognize it, you can do something about it. Give the person in the abusive situation your support – let them know it’s not their fault. Give them a hotline phone number and encourage them to call it. Let them know that they’re not alone, and that there are programs available to help them.
As awareness increases, so does the realization that there are so many in need of help:
·       At least one in four women will be a victim of domestic violence at some time in their life.
·         Three people die every day in our country due to domestic violence.
This is unacceptable to me.  If we all work together, we can break the cycle and end the violence. Please visit our website to see what you can do to get involved. For example:
·         Give someone our hotline number (816-461-HOPE).
·         Volunteer to answer the hotline.
·         Ask someone from Hope House to speak at your office about recognizing DV in the workplace.
We need your help. People’s lives depend on it.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pat Robertson On Wife Beating

Pat Robertson
I recently saw a headline that read “Pat Robertson,Televangelist, Encourages Man to Become Muslim So He Can Beat His Wife”.

I was appalled before I even got to the context of the article. I couldn’t imagine any scenario where this statement would be okay to think to yourself, let alone say it out loud.

As I read the article and then watched the video clip, I actually felt sick to my stomach. My daughter was sitting in the room with me and said in alarm, “Mom, you don’t look well! Are you okay?” I responded, “No, I am not okay”. 

Many people respect this man, and he is telling a man to move to Saudi Arabia so he can beat his wife. The look on my daughter’s face, I suspect, was similar to the one on mine.

I am angry that we still have people who think it is okay to make light of domestic violence, condone it, or even recommend it. I don’t begin to know what Pat Robertson was thinking when he made the comment, but whatever it was, in my opinion, it was completely inappropriate.

In the video clip he we hear him saying “She doesn’t want to submit to authority” and since “scripture doesn’t allow for divorce” his advice is to move to Saudi Arabia become Muslim, and then he can beat her into submission.

I find this offensive on so many fronts. I am not going to debate what the Bible or the Quran say about wives, submission or divorce. I understand everyone has his or her own belief system about marriage and religion.

However, domestic violence is not okay, ever. It is not okay to joke about it, or to suggest that it’s a way for a man to get his wife to recognize his authority over her.

We must stand together to say this is not acceptable under any circumstance.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Domestic Violence and Financial Freedom

Imagine you’ve just run from your home in fear, with your children at your side. You’ve moved into a shelter, so you’re living with a bunch of strangers. You feel safe for the first time in a long time, but then the reality sets in: “What am I going to do for money?”

Your abusive partner didn’t allow you to have a job, or handle the finances. At first, you thought that was a dream come true. Now you realize it was all about controlling and isolating you. You haven’t held a job in years, and have never paid bills.

This is a typical scenario for Hope House clients. That’s why, with the support of The Women’s Foundation, we offer a Self Sufficiency Program. The advocates that lead the program work with our clients individually and in groups to help them learn about how to handle their money, and increase their employability. 

In a 2009 study examining issues of concern to women in the Kansas City area, women identified “employment and finance” as the second most important issue facing them today. Within that category, participants identified the importance of job training, access to long-term employment, financial education, and accessible transportation.

Survivors of domestic violence face these same struggles in addition to living in constant fear. The financial cost of leaving an abusive partner can be overwhelming. Once a woman leaves her partner, she becomes solely responsible for providing for her family. 

In Hope House’s most recently completed fiscal year, 10/1/10 – 9/30/11, the average annual income for families sheltered at Hope House was only $4,447 without financial support from the abuser; 93% were below poverty; 54% reported no income at all.

With little or no income, it is impossible for many survivors to immediately be self-sufficient and provide for the basic needs of food, shelter, and adequate healthcare coverage for themselves and their children.

Through the Self-Sufficiency Program, Hope House offers survivors of domestic violence an opportunity to gain both knowledge and skills in financial literacy and job readiness. With these new skills available to her, a mom can now support her kids.

She doesn’t have to wonder if she should return to her abuser because she had no other way to pay the bills. She’s empowered to start a new life, free from abuse.

Friday, September 14, 2012

New Young Professionals Group Formed

­Our guest blogger this week is Ashley Gillard, Hope House Board Member and chair of Hope House Young Professionals.

I am so proud to introduce Hope House Young Professionals (HHYP) as the newest edition to the Hope House family.  It started as an idea just a year ago, which turned into planning, and finally into an official group just a few months ago. 

The purpose for forming this group is to tap into the resources young professionals bring to the table.  Members of the group are from all areas of Kansas City and work in a variety of industries, from law to health care to psychology and beyond. 

Our members offer a willingness to take on new projects for Hope House’s benefit, and to create their own fundraising events that target other young professionals in the area. 

While people in the beginning of their careers may not be able to make a large monetary donation to Hope House, they can offer a yearly membership (only $30), participate in fundraising happy hours, and spread awareness about Hope House to their peers and at their places of work. 

You might wonder why I was so anxious to get this group started.  My journey to become a Hope House Board Member and the chair of HHYP began eight years ago.  It all started in my first women’s studies course as an undergraduate, which opened my eyes to all of the difficulties women face in our world. 

But, what truly changed my life forever was the day I met 16-year-old Nicole. It was the first day of my women’s studies internship at the local sheriff’s office in their domestic violence unit. 

On that day, Nicole had told her mother that her grandfather had been abusing her for years.  They came to the sheriff’s office to seek help in obtaining a restraining order against her grandfather.

Nicole was scared and worried.  But with the help of those around her and the local resources, she made it through the restraining order hearing and through those first difficult months.

What Nicole made me realize is that domestic violence is in all the places you expect, plus all the places you wouldn't expect.  If you and I don’t help in whatever way we can, then people like Nicole might not have caring people around them to help carry them through to better days. 

The Hope House Young Professionals group aims to be a vehicle for change.  HHYP allows people to step up and do what they can to become involved in an important cause. 

Becoming a member is simple.  For $30, you can become a HHYP member for a year, which puts you on our invite list for happy hours and fundraising events like Margarita Ball.   If you’re interested feel free to sign up on the Hope House website
, or contact me for more information at

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Trip Down Memory Lane

This was the Hope House shelter when I started
working here. It was the shelter from 1987 to 1995. 
I have been taking a trip down memory lane this week. 20 years ago, on September 2, 1992, I started my first job at Hope House as a Women’s Therapist.

I first joined the Hope House staff shortly after graduating with my Master of Social Work (MSW) degree in 1989, but left after 6 months to pursue another opportunity.

I was lured by more money and the thought that I would have more opportunities elsewhere. While I really liked the other jobs, I knew my true calling was at Hope House.

When there was an opening, I was thrilled to “come back home”. To say I never should have left wouldn’t be true. I learned a lot while I was gone; mostly how much I appreciated and loved working with those who have been affected by domestic violence.

In the past 20 years, I have grown so much personally and professionally. I loved working directly with the clients in shelter. I learned that these survivors have:
  •          Strength
  •          Optimism in the face of many obstacles
  •          Perseverance
  •          Grace
  •          Creativity
  •          Determination to make it another day
I have said before that victims of domestic violence are the strongest people I have ever met. I saw so much of that when I was their therapist and shelter director.

20 years later, as the CEO of Hope House, I'm looking forward to many more years of working to end the cycle of domestic violence. Thank you for your support and encouragement along the way.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Back to School

Well, it’s that time of the year… kids, as well as some adults, are heading back to school. I cannot believe how fast this summer has flown by.

It is exciting to see the seasons ready to change, school beginning and all of the hope and expectation that comes with starting something new.

We’re grateful for our ability to offer school supplies to each child entering school in the fall. They don’t have to go to school worrying about being labeled because they live in a shelter, or they don’t have enough money for supplies.

Our goal is that the children go to school without stress and worry about their living arrangements or what is going on in their lives. They need to focus on themselves and their school work, not finances, shelter, food, etc.

With the graciousness and generosity of our community, Hope House doesn’t have to worry about that either. There is enough for everyone to go to school equipped and ready to learn.

Children are resilient and have such hope and wonder about the world. This optimism can be dampened when there is trauma and crisis in their world. We work hard to help them find it again and bring it back to life.

Good luck to all of our students no matter what age they are. My hope is they have a very successful school year filled with new knowledge and excitement.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hope & All That Jazz

We are gearing up for our annual Hope and All That Jazz this Saturday, August 18, at the Muehlebach Hotel in downtown Kansas City.

We look forward to this annual event as we gather with 500 of our supporters and friends to raise money for the daily operations at Hope House. It is a fun evening to dress up and mingle with friends and those you haven’t seen for some time. 

Everyone is in a good mood and ready to bid on the wonderful auction items that are displayed so beautifully. Every year bidding wars happen. It’s so fun to watch people hovering close to the bid sheet, ready to write down the next bid as soon as the previous bidder walks away. 

We have wonderful donors that donate beautiful and unique auction items that appeal to everyone. We have sports items, beautiful artwork, home accents, a wonderful collection of wine, and so much more. There truly is something for everyone.

The live auction includes trips, sports packages, and a much sought after puppy, to name a few.

We will have a story from a survivor that I am so looking forward to hearing. She is truly an inspiration and I know people will be moved by her story of survival and her sense of gratitude and optimism.

If you have never been to Jazz before I encourage you to consider it this year. It’s a great time and all of the proceeds help us continue our mission of breaking the cycle of domestic violence.

It isn’t too late to sponsor a table or to buy individual tickets. Contact Libby at 816-257-9334 for more information. I hope to see you on the 18th.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Submissive, Aggressive or Empowered

Cyndie O'Bleness of Elements Martial Arts
Today's guest blogger is Lee Marlin, Director of Marketing for Hope House.

Submissive or aggressive. Very often, our clients and their children arrive at Hope House with one of these two responses to interactions with others. They’ve learned through living with their abuser whether “freeze, fight, or flight” is their best option for getting out of a situation unharmed.

Cyndie O’Bleness, owner of Elements Martial Arts in North Kansas City, believes there is a better response, which starts with self empowerment. 

Cyndie volunteers three times a week teaching classes in personal safety and empowerment at Hope House fo­­r the women, school-aged children, and pre-school children who are living in our shelter.

Cyndie’s philosophy when teaching at Hope House is, “We don’t want to get to the ‘fighting back’ stage. We want it (a confrontation) to be a non-event.” 

To that end, she teaches our clients how to use their voice and body language; how to set boundaries; how to get over the fear of saying “no” when someone is doing something that makes them feel uncomfortable. 

“Something as simple as eye contact is important, but extremely difficult for someone who’s been traumatized,” Cyndie explains.

Martial arts fighting isn’t taught in her classes at Hope House. “We don’t want to teach these women to fight and make them think they can walk back into the relationship and be safe.” However, if a women or child is interested in training in martial arts, Cyndie offers scholarships and sliding scale fees.

Hope House women’s therapist Janet Howard said of the trainings, “Because girls are taught in our society to ‘be nice’ it is often translated into being ‘submissive’ or ‘not making a scene’. Cyndie is teaching them that they have a voice and mind and can make their own decisions after they assess the situation.”

Jill Weiterman, Hope House children’s therapist says, “One of the best things about this program is the self-esteem I have seen it foster in the kids; especially some of the boys who are struggling with anger problems.  Cyndie has given the kids something to look forward to every week.” 

We are so grateful to Cyndie for all she does for our clients. She is teaching them skills that will change the way they relate to everyone in their life. To learn more about Cyndie’s classes, seminars, and outreach programs, please visit her website

Friday, August 3, 2012

Everyone Needs a Support System

Everyone needs a support system,
whether it's family or friends.
I recently had surgery to have my gall bladder removed. This was my first experience having any type of surgery and being in a hospital other than when I had my daughter years ago. It was very different being on the patient side, receiving all of the concern and support from family and friends. 

While I was in the hospital, I was never alone. I had my husband and daughter right there checking on me, making sure I didn’t lift anything or do too much. My parents arrived soon after I got home from the hospital and they never left my side. 

All of them were always available to help with whatever needed to be done. I didn’t have to worry about anything other than myself, and resting. 

This experience really made me realize how fortunate I am that I have such a loving and available support system. I am very aware that not everyone has such a support system, and they have to go through many challenges alone, without anyone to share their feelings, triumphs and trials.

I have thought about our clients and how so many of them handle experiences so much more severe than mine without that loving support system. How do they do it? How do they cope with such challenges without anyone helping them through the process?

I have always thought that our clients are the strongest people I have ever met, and my recent experience has affirmed that for me. 

For some people, Hope House may be the only support system that they have.  They look to us for the support and encouragement that others receive from family members and friends. I am so glad that we are there for those who do not have anyone else. 

I cannot imagine going through life without the love and support of my family.  Thankfully, I have that, and knowing that gives me the drive to continue this work so that Hope House is there when needed. No one should have to face life’s challenges alone.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Volunteer Dentists are Saving Smiles

Two years ago, we were starting a huge construction project at our campus in Independence. Part of the upgrade included a Medical/Dental room. We wanted our clients to have access to these basic services without having to leave the safety of our campus.

The dental portion of that room is now open, thanks to the assistance of Dr. Morrison and Dr. Ryder, our volunteer dentists.

What an educational process this has been! None of us on the Hope House side is a dentist, and that was evident as Dr. Morrison and Dr. Ryder discussed with us all of the needs of a dental room. I had no idea what was involved!

Dr. Ryder has been volunteering his services in the room and has seen 55 clients to date. It has been amazing the work that he has completed, and the transformations in client’s health that have taken place.

He’s performed cleanings, extractions, fillings, and taken x-rays. His services so far are valued at over $16,000; money our clients do not have. Without his volunteer efforts, they most likely would have continued to go without treatment.

In domestic violence situations, it’s very common for victims to push their own health needs to the back burner, and dental needs are even further behind. Untreated dental conditions can cause serious health concerns, so having this resource available to our clients has been invaluable.

Having the dental room on site allows the clients easier access to services and eliminates the need for childcare, which could be a real obstacle if clients had to access services off site. Unfortunately, there are times that going off site is necessary, due to emergency needs and the complexity of services.

We are grateful to Dr. Morrison who has been offering emergency dental services to our clients for over 20 years. He has opened his office doors to anyone in crisis with no other resources available to them. He has made a huge difference in so many lives.

If you are a dentist or hygienist and are interested in volunteering your time and talents to our clients, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Gretchen Schmitz, at or 816-257-9342. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

National Advocacy Day

I had the privilege of traveling to Washington DC in June to attend National Advocacy Day, sponsored by the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV). Advocacy Day brings together domestic violence advocates from across the country to discuss the latest news, trends and legislation that impacts the services we provide.

Advocates from across the state of Missouri were there. We had a very productive day meeting with all of the Congressmen/women and Senators from Missouri. The topic of conversation throughout the day was the controversy that has arisen surrounding the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

This is the first time the reauthorization has become controversial. The House and Senate each passed very different versions of the bill. We spent the day discussing the “hot button” issues, and strategies for the two sides to come together. 

As always, the Missouri delegation welcomed us and listened to our concerns. Everyone continues to be supportive of VAWA overall, but no one was really sure how to bridge the differences. Discussion continues and everyone voiced hope that a resolution could be reached.

If you would like more information about the reauthorization of VAWA, the NNEDV website has accurate and up to date information regarding the process and the “hot button” issues. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Celebrating Independence

Our country celebrated Independence Day yesterday. Normally when we think of Independence Day we think of fireworks, cook outs and celebrating our freedom and independence as a country.

But I also think about the thousands of people we work with who are creating new lives and celebrating their own newly found independence living a life free of violence.

I love thinking of those who have not only survived DV, but are now thriving and have reclaimed their freedom. They wake up every day knowing they are free to make their own decisions about their lives, and free to enjoy their children and their families without the fear of someone being harmed.

I am thankful for the freedoms we have in this country; thankful for those who continue to fight for our freedoms, and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their life for their country.

I am also thankful for all who support Hope House and who assist us in helping those who don’t have their independence; those who are not yet free of the violence. For those people, we will continue to be here providing services and we will help how ever we are able.

We look forward to the day that everyone is celebrating their freedom from a life of violence. Until then, we will continue to work to break the cycle of violence once and for all.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Birdies Fore Hope Women's Golf Tournament

We are so excited for our upcoming Birdies for Hope golf tournament. This is the second annual all women’s golf tournament, and it was the brain child of one of our board members, Lisa Block. 

Lisa is an amazing person. Her compassion and passion for those who have been impacted by domestic violence is refreshing and heartwarming.

Lisa and her co-chairs, Lisa Hendricks, Chris Ferguson and Barb Bloch have worked tirelessly to put together a tournament that is fun and will bring in much needed dollars to support the operations of Hope House.

We know it will be a great day and are looking forward to seeing many golfers on Monday, July 2nd at the Oakwood Country Club located at 9800 Grandview Road in Kansas City, Missouri.

We are grateful for the amazing support we receive from the community. We would not be able to provide all of the services we provide if it were not for the community rallying around us and supporting us with their volunteer efforts and their wiliness to participate in events and other activities.

There is still time to join us on the 2nd if you are in the mood for golf or want to help out in some way. For more information, or to get entered, please visit our website.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Your Vote Makes All the Difference

Last month, I told you about the Cultivate Wines competition in which Hope House is competing to win $50,000.

Realistically, we're on the path to be a $10,000 winner (placing 2nd through 6th in the voting), which can still have an amazing impact on our operations! With $10,000 we could provide 333 safe nights of shelter, which will protect 4 families of three for 26 days, which is the average length of stay in our shelter.

We've moved up four places in the last week, so your vote makes all the difference.

You can vote every day through June 30 using your Facebook login.  Use this link to get to the voting site.

Please spread the word by forwarding this post or posting to your Facebook page. We have one week left and we can make it, with your help. It takes just a moment a day to make a difference in someone's life! 

Must be 21 to vote in this competition.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Katie Piper Update

2008 and 2011 photos of Katie (from

One of my very early blogs was about Katie Piper, the young woman who in March 2008 was held captive for 8 hours, and suffered a brutal attack and rape by her boyfriend. As if that wasn’t enough, he then arranged for an accomplice to attack Katie by throwing acid on her face.

I wondered how this amazing woman was doing more than three years later. I wasn’t surprised to learn that she has done amazingly well. For someone who at one point begged her parents to kill her, she has come a long way.

She has been an inspiration to other burn survivors by setting up her own foundation, The Katie Piper Foundation:  dedicated to helping and supporting other burn survivors. She has recently released an autobiography called Beautiful.

She has her own TV special called My Beautiful Friends where she interviews other burn survivors about their experiences. Katie has won several awards:
  • She was named winner of the 'Courage Award' at the Pride of Andover Awards in October 2010; then, on October 6 she was announced as winner of the publicly voted 'Most Inspirational' prize at the Inspiration Awards for Women.
  • Katie won the "Women to Watch: Inspiration" award at Red magazine's "Red's Hot Women Awards" in 2010.
  • In February 2011, Katie: My Beautiful Face won the "Best Documentary Programme" award at the Broadcast Awards; Piper attended to collect the prize alongside the film-makers.
  • Piper was awarded the Sainsbury's Women of the Year "You Can" Award at the Women of the Year Awards 2011, held in October 2011.
What an amazing woman, to have survived and triumphed. She is courageous and has turned her life into a crusade to help others, while still healing from the abuse she endured through the rape, beating, and the acid attack.

She is truly an inspiration to others and shows that you can move from victim to survivor. I wish her the absolute best and hope she continues to heal and thrive. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Are Clients Abusing the System?

This week’s blog is about another common myth I hear when I talk to people about the services at Hope House.  I often get asked if the people in shelter are really in need, or are they taking advantage of the system? This conversation is often in reference to those who are receiving state assistance and food stamps.

I find myself taken aback when asked this, even though I’ve heard it many times. My first response is always to invite that person to shelter so they can see firsthand what we do, and to see that shelter life is not easy, glamorous, or desirable. The women who come to shelter have no other resources available to them.  They are truly at the end of their road, and not sure what the next day is going to bring.

I’m amazed at how resourceful and adaptable people can be when faced with dire circumstances. I often wonder how I would respond if I were in a similar situation.  I am not sure I would have the strength to survive the challenges these women do every day.

I’m so proud and honored to be able to work with survivors of domestic violence. I love witnessing the transformation that can take place when someone is given the opportunity to rest, and collect their thoughts.

I admire the resourcefulness and the ingenuity I have seen as clients work through their issues and solve their problems. With time, support, encouragement and a helping hand, it’s amazing what transformations can take place. Once on their feet again, they are able to thrive on their own.

I’m glad we’re here to help them through their darkest hours and their most vulnerable times. Then we have the opportunity to witness their growth and the beginning of their new life.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Help Hope House Win $50,000

Hope House is participating in Cultivate Wines: The Give
We are excited to have been chosen to participate in an online competition to win $50,000 through the "Cultivate Wines: The Give" competition.  You can help Hope House win the top prize by voting every day. The top six programs all win money, so your vote is so important.

The competition runs from May 1 to June 30. With the $50,000 prize money, we will provide 1,666 safe nights of shelter, which will protect 21 families of three for 26 days, which is the average length of stay in our shelter.

Here's a quick video about how The Give works.

You can vote using your Facebook login - no need to register! Please help us protect victims of domestic violence by voting every day.

Please use this link to vote now.

Please spread the word by forwarding this email or posting to your Facebook page. You and your friends can make a difference in someone's life!

Must be 21 to vote in this competition.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Hope House Named Business of the Year

In March I wrote about our nomination for the Res in Motus (Business of the Year) award through the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce. The award is a celebration of business and non-profit contributions to the community.

There are several categories based on business size. All nominees were asked to complete an application for consideration. The application process was intense, but thought provoking.

At the Chamber luncheon in March, it was announced that Hope House was one of the top three nominees for the award. The next step in the multi-step process was an interview with members of the committee.

We were thrilled to meet with three distinguished Lee’s Summit Chamber Business members and to have the opportunity to visit with them about Hope House. We were able to share with them our passion for the work we do and the impact we have on the community, and show them our work first hand.

Then we waited. 

The interview took place in mid-April and the final winners were not announced until the May 18th Chamber luncheon.  We attended the luncheon and learned that Hope House was the winner in the Sanctimonia (non-profit) category!

 We are so happy to be a part of this community and excited to be the winners of this award.  Our thanks to the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce for this honor, and to Tina Stidham, New Age Graphics, for nominating us.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Most Common Myth

Don't ask "Why does she stay?" Ask "Why does he do that?"
I have spent some time blogging about common myths about domestic violence.  Here’s the one that is the most frustrating for me to explain and dispel:

"Victims like the abuse, otherwise they would leave."

To me, it’s obvious that women do not like to be abused. They do not enjoy being beaten, called horrible names, and having no control over their lives. 

They do leave.  They do try to end the relationship. Women leave abusive relationships every day. But when they leave, they face many obstacles and challenges, like continued abuse and stalking by their partner.

Last year I shared with you the story of Katie Piper. She broke things off with her boyfriend. He stalked her for days, and then hired someone to attack her with acid. 

It happens a lot: women leave, and then they are stalked and killed.  We have already had more than one domestic violence homicide this year in KC where women were in the process of leaving their abusers. It’s scary to realize that we’re still in the first half of the year.

Rather than asking “Why does she stay?” let’s start focusing on the abuser and his motivations for staying in the relationship. Ask yourself why a man would want to stay in a relationship when he thinks:
  • She never does anything right. I'll have to teach her a lesson. 
  • She’s always cheating on me. I saw the way she looked at the cashier at the grocery store.
  • I just can’t trust her, so I’ll have to put a GPS on her car so I know where she is.
Changing which side of the relationship you’re looking at changes everything, doesn’t it?

Victims of domestic violence do not ask for the abuse. They do not deserve the abuse, and they certainly do not enjoy it. It is a vicious cycle and one that must be stopped. Two of the first steps to ending it are education and availability of services. We are working on addressing both of those issues.

Monday, May 14, 2012

National Violence Survey Results

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently released the results from their first National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS).  The CDC website describes the survey as:

“The survey collects data on past-year experiences of violence as well as lifetime experiences of violence. The 2010 survey is the first year of the survey and provides baseline data that will be used to track trends in sexual violence, stalking and intimate partner violence (IPV). CDC developed NISVS to better describe and monitor the magnitude of these forms of violence in the United States.”

The results of the survey were not surprising, but at the same time frustrating, as it show how desperately our work is still needed. The findings from the 2010 survey show that intimate partner violence, stalking and sexual assault are widespread in our country. The findings highlight the severity of the violence and lifelong health consequences.
  • 1.3 million women were raped during the year preceding the survey
  • Nearly 1 in 5 women have been raped in their lifetime
  • 1 in 6 women have been stalked during their lifetime
  • 1 in 4 women have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner
  • 1 in 71 men have been raped in their lifetime
  • 1 in 19 men have experienced stalking in their lifetime
  • 1 in 7 men experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner
The CDC report summarizes what is going on in our country: 

“Overall, lifetime and one year estimates for sexual violence, stalking and intimate partner violence were alarmingly high for adult Americans; with intimate partner violence (IPV) alone affecting more than 12 million people each year. 

Women are disproportionately impacted. They experienced high rates of severe IPV, rape and stalking, and long-term chronic disease and other health impacts such as PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) symptoms. 

NISVS also shows that most rape and IPV is first experienced before age 24, highlighting the importance of preventing this violence before it occurs to ensure that all people can live life to their fullest potential”.

We have a lot of work still to do. Thank you for helping us serve the thousands of people in our metro area that are impacted by these crimes every day. 

To see the full report you can go to

Thursday, May 3, 2012

He Has A Crush On You

I happened across a blog posting that I thought was brilliant and so on target. The blog is called Views from the Couch, written by the Queen of the Couch. The topic for her post this particular day was called "You Didn’t Thank Me for Punching You in the Face".  As you can imagine, that caught my attention so I read the blog and all I could say was, “Yes! Way to go!” What a brilliant way to discuss the concept of how we talk to our young children about abusive behaviors.

This blog was about how, as little girls, many of us were taught that when young boys pull our hair, hit or tease us, their behavior is excused because it means “he likes you”. 

The blogger shares an experience of her daughter having her bracelets physically stolen off of her arm by a classmate. She went to the school to address the incident with the teacher. The teacher responded by smiling and explaining it away to her daughter by saying “he probably has a crush on you”.  

When we teach our children that this type of behavior is acceptable and a form of flattery, we are setting our children up to fail, both boys and girls. We need to teach our children that when we like someone, we show them that in respectful ways, not verbally and physically abusive ways.

When abusive behaviors are considered forms of flattery, we perpetuate the notion that violence, whether verbal or physical, is okay, teaching long standing patterns of behavior that are destructive to children and adults. How do you go from learning the behavior is flattery as a young child, to knowing as an adult that it isn’t flattery, but abuse? You don’t without a great deal of difficulty.

As I have said many times before, the only way we are going to stop abuse is to break the cycle with our children by teaching appropriate behavior and boundaries. If a boy doesn’t know how to show a girl he likes her, then let’s teach him the right ways rather than condoning abusive behaviors and setting up long term inappropriate patterns of behavior.

If you want to read the entire blog post I mentioned earlier, you can read it here. ALERT: This blog contains a great deal of cursing, if you are opposed to this type of language, I would urge you not to read this blog.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

National Crime Victims' Rights Week

Every year in April a week is set aside to honor victims of crime. This year April 22-28 is set aside as National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. The theme for this year is "Extending the Vision: Reaching Every Victim".

I think it is extremely important to take a moment and honor those who have been traumatized by crime. There are so many types of crimes and victims in our country every year, many that go unnoticed and unrecognized. There are many agencies and people working to alleviate crime, but unfortunately we are not there yet.

At Hope House our mission is break the cycle of violence and to offer services to those who are victims of the crime of domestic violence. Many people still do not think of domestic violence as a crime, but think of it as a "family matter". It
is a crime and many in our community are partnering with us to stop this hideous crime from continuing to affect another generation.

We are grateful for all those who work with us to provide services to our clients so they can live a life free of abuse:

  • Police
  • Prosecutors
  • Probation and parole
  • Physicians and dentists
  • Social workers
  • Attorneys 
  • And many others too numerous to list

We are grateful for all they do to help our clients get back on their feet. We couldn’t do what we do without those partnerships.

During this week, let’s all take a moment to stop and think about those who have been victimized and who need help and support. If you know someone who has been a victim of a crime, I encourage you to reach out to them with a listening ear, or support in some other way. Recovering from a crime is not easy and every bit of support helps.