Friday, May 31, 2013


There has been so much tragedy in the news lately. It’s sometimes hard to manage all of the emotions that rise up when we hear of the tragedy others have faced. As a country we experienced the Boston bombings, even though I wasn’t there I felt it in my heart. We have learned of the miraculous and heartwarming escape of the three young women who were kidnapped over 10 years ago. What a wonderful day that was when their neighbor came to their rescue. Now they are home with their families and enjoying well deserved privacy as they recover from the trauma of their experiences. We just learned of the tragedy in Oklahoma when that tornado ripped through their town and took so many lives. I have lived in the Midwest my entire life, so tornados are not new to me, but even after the recent two year anniversary of Joplin, I don’t think anyone is ever prepared for tornados of that magnitude and destructive power. The loss of children is so heartbreaking as a parent I can’t wrap my heart around the pain those parents are experiencing. All I can do is send them my prayers and hope they are able to find some comfort somewhere. 

There are so many more stories that have been on the news, too many to mention, it can be so overwhelming to think of all the heartache people are experiencing. I have felt that way at times about this work—the people and their experiences—and the struggles that I, as an administrator, have with fundraising and other challenges. At times it can just be too much. At times it can feel like we are all drowning and there is no one there with a life preserver to help us. When I am feeling like this I know that it’s time to stop and breathe and take a time out. I realize I cannot solve the world’s problems. As much as I would like to, I cannot. To recognize that is extremely important in order to put everything back into perspective. When I do that I am able to relax and realize all of the good that is happening in our world and that the good really does over power the iniquities. We are part of the good and when I remember that I can then continue on with this work and make a difference. 

I received a client testimonial the other day that brought me to tears but it helped me realize we are making a difference. She said: “I feel proud, for the first time in my life. And it’s all due to Hope House, and all the people here who help us to see, really see, who we are and that we are worthy of good.  Thank you so much for all the lives you touch.”  

That makes it all ok. We’ve touched someone’s life in a very positive way. That’s what we’re here for and we are doing it. I can breathe easier today and know that I have the strength to keep up this work and hopefully I can make a difference in someone else’s life today.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Memorial Day

Memorial Day will be here Monday and I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice and to their families who have sacrificed for our freedom. Memorial Day is a time to remember those who have died while serving their country. It is often marked as the beginning of summer but it is so much more than that. 

I am grateful for those who have and who are currently serving our country. What an honorable and courageous thing to do for others. It is not just those who serve who make sacrifices, I am humbled by the sacrifices that military families make on a daily basis.

Let us take time on this special day to remember those who have served and given their lives for us. Their sacrifice allows us to continue with our work and to continue to make a difference in the lives of others and for that I am grateful.

Friday, May 17, 2013

School is Out!

School will be out soon if it isn’t already for some kids. We love summertime at Hope House. It is so fun to watch the kids enjoy the summer days. They are able to relax and enjoy their vacation from school and spend their days exploring, playing and just being kids.
One of our main goals for the children staying at Hope House is to let the kids experience being kids. They have been through so much trauma and they deserve a chance to be free of adult burdens and worry, they deserve to have fun and to have the opportunity to be a child.

Much time and energy is spent helping children work through the trauma they have experienced and help them adjust to life in shelter. Shelter can be a bit challenging especially for our older teens who would like nothing less than to be a thousand miles away from here. Finding activities for the kids is the challenge of our Children’s Advocates. They have the opportunity to work with all of the kids and they plan activities that are age appropriate and keep in the theme of just letting the kids be kids. Our Children’s Advocates have been known to plan movie nights and play games and eat popcorn now what child or adult for that matter wouldn’t enjoy that!

We are so grateful for the opportunity to work with the children that stay with us. Children are wonderful and their enthusiasm and zest for life is contagious. We know it will be a wonderful summer and we look forward to spending it with all of the kids.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Point In Time Survey

The National Network Against Domestic Violence has released the results from their 7th annual Point In Time Study. This study is done once a year, to calculate the number of people across the country who are receiving domestic violence services on a given day. In 2012 the study was conducted on September 12th and 1,646 out of 1,924 or 86 % of the programs across the country participated in the study. For the 7th year in row, Missouri’s 67 programs had 100% participation! This study gives us the opportunity to talk about the need in our country, and to highlight the services that are offered. It also allows us to see the unmet need and what work still needs to be done. We have information to discuss with our elected officials about what is being done and what still needs to be done to address the needs of a very vulnerable population.

In Missouri on September 12, 2012, 2,123 victims found safety in emergency shelters or transitional housing across the state. Of the 2,123 served on that day Hope House provided services to 131 of them. Missouri programs were able to provide 672 adults and children with non-residential assistance including groups and individual counseling. Hope House provided services to 45 of those 672. That same day, 494 hotline calls were answered, 12 were made to Hope House. Unfortunately across the state of Missouri, 416 people were turned away due to lack of capacity, 60 of them from Hope House. The report shows that 57% of unmet requests were for emergency shelter and transitional housing.

The national numbers are astounding to comprehend; 35,323 victims across the country received safe shelter, 29,001 received non-residential services and 20,821 hotline calls were answered and there were 10,471 unmet requests for services. Reports from the other programs were consistent with what we are seeing at Hope House, the economy has definitely impacted the number of people seeking services and resources in the community are down. The need continues to be overwhelming across our country. We have also seen numbers of program services reduced due to programs having to cut back on services due to funding shortages.

Kim Gandy, CEO of NNEDV writes:
·         The report revealed that reduced funding for domestic violence services means that programs are unable to help survivors with shelter, attain legal help, or leave abusive partners. The economic conditions of the past few years have had a significant impact on domestic violence programs.  “Cutting funds to domestic violence programs means that victims have fewer places to turn,” “It is impossible to hold offenders accountable and provide safe havens for victims with reduced funding for services and shelters.  Budget cuts at the local, state, and federal level are creating increased danger to victims and their children.”
·         Additionally, the pending funding cuts resulting from the sequester also worry victim advocates. According to recent analysis, sequestration will result in approximately 70,000 fewer victims getting help from domestic violence programs and approximately 36,000 fewer victims having access to protection orders, crisis intervention and counseling, sexual assault services, hospital-based advocacy, transitional housing services, and help with civil legal matters.

·         As programs are cutting staff, reducing hours, and cutting back on services due to lack of funds, the true harm is to domestic violence victims. “Across the country, domestic violence programs are working harder than ever to help victims of abuse,” added Gandy. “But we also know that, across the board, funding for victim services is dwindling while the demand is climbing.”
So we continue to be challenged by the ever increasing need, and we will continue to rise above the challenge and meet the needs of those we serve. Together we can make a difference and we will continue to work hard on behalf of survivors and work to end the violence.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Domestic Violence from Guest Blogger and DV Detective

In May 2011, I took over as the Blue Springs Police Domestic Violence Detective. Since given this great opportunity I’ve dedicated my efforts to do anything in my power to end the cycle of domestic violence in Blue Springs. 

My passion to help survivors of domestic violence didn’t start when I took over as the Blue Springs Police Domestic Violence Detective, but my position helped me realize the power that I had to save lives through my investigations and interactions with survivors. I found that my past experience as a patrol officer—being involved in a shooting while responding to a domestic assault—and my quest for justice was very similar to the survivors of domestic violence with whom I work. That connection, even though different, allowed me to see through the eyes of a survivor seeking justice.

I’ve used my training and past experiences to help develop goals to end the cycle of domestic violence. I’ve realized that I first must provide social awareness of the prevalence and seriousness of domestic violence. I understand the importance of educating patrol officers on the best practices for handling domestic disputes and ensuring that survivors are given information on the resources available to assist them.  Once assigned a new case, I know I must contact survivors as soon as possible after the initial report is taken and share my understanding and concern for the traumatic situation that they have been involved in. I then must gather the evidence and explain the legal process.

I’ve quickly found that there are many barriers to reaching my goal of ending the cycle of domestic violence. First, how do we reach those victims that don’t call for assistance?  How do we prosecute a case when the victim refuses to assist in prosecution? How do I ensure that officers are gathering all the evidence needed to build an investigation? How do we better track subjects placed on probation?

We haven't ended the cycle of domestic violence yet but, with the assistance of our court advocate from Hope House and the patrol officers on the road, we are identifying those at greatest risk of violence and abusers prone to commit those acts of violence. Through ongoing training we have improved how officers handle and report those domestic disputes. Patrol officers are linking survivors of intimate partner domestic assaults to Hope House advocates through the Lethality Assessment Program. Patrol officers are making arrests of the primary physical aggressor if probable cause exists even if the survivor is not willing to sign a complaint at the time. The municipal court is holding five separate domestic violence dockets per month to ensure that victims get justice as soon as possible. The Blue Springs Police Dispatch supervisor has begun entering the information of subjects placed on municipal probation into the Regional Justice Information Service computer system.

With the continued support from the Blue Springs Police Department and our partners at Hope House, survivors of domestic violence are getting the support they need and tools to escape their dangerous situations. Together we are ending the cycle of domestic violence.