Friday, July 26, 2013

Dealing with Domestic Violence by Pam Walden

What confusion! Dealing with domestic violence isn’t as simple as it sounds. One would think that it depends upon how severe the incident was. No. There are so many factors: length of relationship, depth of abuse, children, seriousness of relationship, length/time of abuse, pattern of abuse, support/knowledge of family and friends…. I know that getting outside of one’s self and realizing this is a LONG process is the key: faith, family, focus, friends, and facts.

Faith. While my husband’s decay occurred, through the abuse, my faith was strong, although shaken. I had so many “miracles” during his attempt to murder me that I can’t go into all of them here. One of the biggest is that I had two witnesses when I lived on acreage on a Friday afternoon at 3pm. Another neighbor family across the street helped me who should NOT have been home.

Family. My family, who stood by from a distance not knowing everything, came through when it counted most—after he burned down my home. I had nothing but the clothes on my back. Family, that I don’t want to burden because they hurt so much with what I went through, did what they could—getting me a birth certificate, putting me up, cleaning the damaged cars.

Focus. After spending 11 months inventorying and dealing with my home being demolished, the divorce proceedings and more, I know that focusing on a job helped me. And I have even been able to help others. It is amazing how abused women “fall” into my path. I have told many of them about Hope House and their programs.

Friends. Well, you don’t know who is really a friend until devastation occurs. One friend offered to put my son and I up for as long as needed—including the burnt junk that I couldn’t part with yet. Another two friends drove me around since I could hardly walk and others gave me showers to replace some of the things I’d lost. Homeschoolers stepped up. Even strangers gave clothes, some money, cards.

Facts. It wasn’t my fault. I did nothing to deserve it. I am right in divorcing him.My conceal and carry is for a REAL not contrived future of protection. I can make it without him. I am worth loving. I AM surviving—no, thriving, even though it is a long, difficult journey making a new path totally unfamiliar to me. Now I have had to enter the “Safe At Home” program so my address is protected. This is not an easy journey so I take it one day at a time and enjoy what I can.
My true desire is that other women will learn from my story and know they can go on.

Pam Walden

Check out these links related to Pam’s story:

Friday, July 19, 2013

Strength and Perseverance

It is amazing to me how strong people can be and what they can overcome. I have been watching the news intently on the escape of the three women in Ohio who were kidnapped as young girls and who have now been reunited with their families. I was glued to the television to get every new piece of information on their stories of survival.

I am truly inspired by them and all of the people who have survived tragedy and horrific experiences and have gone on to thrive. The video they posted was so moving it brought me to tears. What strength those women have! How touched I am for their ability to reclaim their lives.

I often wonder how I would react/cope if I was confronted with the tragic and horrific experiences our clients and others face on a daily basis. Would I have the strength to leave? Would I have the strength and inner guidance to know when to make the move, or when to break out the door and scream at the neighbor passing by for help as Amanda did? Those who have survived have tapped into that inner knowing and that inner strength and found what it takes to make those really difficult and life saving decisions.

I am grateful to all of the survivors of tragedy for their wisdom, their ability to persevere, for their ability to forgive, to work through the emotions and come out on the other side. I am so happy those three young women have their lives ahead of them with their families. Congratulations to them for having the strength to make it through. I pray that all of those who are faced with tragedy that they can have outcomes similar to Amanda, Gina and Michelle.

I am grateful that Hope House is here to help people in domestic violence situations. We couldn’t do it without our supporters. I am aware it takes everyone working together to bring about change.  Hopefully there will be a day when there is no violence, no kidnappings and murders. Until then, thank you for helping us help others.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Advocacy in DC

I had the privilege of going to DC this past month with a group of advocates from across Missouri. We make an annual trek to DC to meet with our elected officials and continue our discussion of domestic violence and how it is impacting the residents in the state of Missouri.

We spend a day with other advocates from across the country learning what is new and what is needed. We then head to the Hill where we meet with all of the Missouri delegation. The mood in DC has varied from year to year depending on what is going on in the country and the pressing needs going on at the time of our visit. We were fortunate this year to go when the weather was beautiful and there was some hope in the air. There is such division in our country right now on so many issues, but the one thing that we know is domestic violence is not a partisan issue. It impacts everyone.  It’s something that everyone should be concerned about. Everyone can have a part to play in impacting it and bringing it to an end.

We do have a group of elected officials that are concerned about this issue and the impact it is having on the citizens of Missouri. They listened intently and heard our concerns and our fears for the immediate future.

Our message was clear and precise: things are dire in Missouri, people are being turned away from services at an alarming rate and something must be done. Programs serving victims are struggling under the weight of the need and the lack of resources there are to address those needs. More people are turned away from services than are able to be served. This is unacceptable. We must create a plan to address this and it needs to be done immediately.

Our proposal was pretty straightforward in theory, but much harder to actually accomplish. We had discussions about it with each member and all agreed it was reasonable and presented a win/win for everyone. They assured us that they would help and, since our meeting, progress has been made.

I am ever hopeful that progress will continue and, with the help of our Representatives and Senators, we’ll be able to bring more resources to all of the programs across Missouri and the country—programs that are fighting to meet the need and provide services to the ever increasing number of people seeking assistance.

Monday, July 8, 2013

"Why don't they just leave?" Guest blog from DV Detective Nancy Willis of Raytown PD

Before stepping into the boots of Law Enforcement I had a misconception of what the job of a Police Officer was. I went into my Law enforcement career as wide eyed gal who wanted to have a really cool job, make a difference and do something meaningful with my life. When I became a Police Officer I had no idea what the job was really about. I could talk about so many aspects of the job from Crime scenes and car chases to robberies and home invasions. But I would rather focus on something more reoccurring…Domestic Violence.  

Being a new cop means taking all the high profile calls in order to gain experience. The one thing I experienced time after time was Domestic Violence calls. Whether it be an argument or whether it be an assault with serious injuries. Time after time I would go to the same house for the same thing but under different circumstance. I would ask my fellow Officer’s why don’t they just leave. The only answer I ever got was an easy one: "I dunno”. Instead of trying to understand that question I found myself becoming frustrated that I was dealing with the same people over and over again. I found myself becoming insensitive…Until I finally asked the victim’s, “Why don’t you just leave”. I got many different answers. Honest answers. From those answers, I began to share what I learned from the victims of Domestic Violence with my fellow officers. 

For many people it’s hard to understand why victims don’t leave the situation they are in. I try to tell those people that there is more to it than that. There are more things to think about after the police have left the incident and after the abuser has gone to jail. The abuser will get out of jail and the revolving door of life will be in motion once again for those victims. There are children to take care of, jobs to show up on time for and responsibilities that cannot go unattended. For those fortunate enough to escape death from an abuser their life has to go on. For the life that keeps going, Hope House is there to help pick up the pieces. Hope House is there whenever the woman needs them no matter how many times she may need them. They are always there with open arms ready for anyone. Hope House gives victim’s the tools they need to escape their abuser without disrupting their life more than it has already. Since the Police cannot stay with victims to be their body guards, Hope House can keep them safe. The victim just has to take their hand.

Every time I went to a Domestic Violence related call I offered Hope House’s services. I tell victim’s everything that Hope House could do for them so they wouldn’t be a victim any longer. I tell victim’s that the violence will progressively get worse. I tell victim’s stories of homicides that were Domestic related in hopes they will put themselves in the story and realize the seriousness of their situation. I tell they the story of “Debbie”... 

Debbie was a wonderful woman whom I had met several times while on Patrol. I was called to her house time after time because her husband had assaulted her or was being violent in the home. During one call I asked her, “why don’t you leave”? She gave me her reason. I understood her reasoning but I stressed how worried I was for her. I gave her information about Hope House then and told her they could help with any issue she was facing. I left her house that night not knowing if she had ever contacted Hope House. I got called back out to Debbie’s house again another night because her husband had assaulted her. When I went inside her house, it was in complete disarray. Her husband had blackened her eye so badly that she could not open it. I reminded Debbie of all the other times I had been there for the same reasons and made her realize that each time she was hurt worse than the last. She told me that she wanted to get away from her husband…Finally! I gave her Hope Houses information again. I know she spoke with them this time but it was up to her to follow through and take Hope House’s advice. Two months later Debbie called 911 and said her husband had just shot her. She later died at the hospital. 

I have not worked Patrol in a couple of years. I now am assigned to the Investigations Unit where I am the DV Detective. I investigate everything DV related. I work even more closely with Hope House now. The victim’s I see and talk to; Hope House see’s and talks to as well. We work together to interrupt the cycle of abuse and give the victims everything they could possibly need to take the steps toward a victimless life. I promote Hope House with great enthusiasm. I have worked and continually work with extraordinary court advocates who give all they have to making victim’s safe. I am thankful Hope House is there for these women. I am thankful for all the people who help Hope House care for these victim’s by donating much needed funds, goods and time. Without Hope House, I believe there would be more Debbie stories. Victims have options for when after the Police leave and Hope House is there to guide them. I am grateful for the relationship I have with Hope House and for their outstanding work in our fight against Domestic Violence.