Friday, August 30, 2013

Twerking And The VMAs. Is It The Same Old Culture Shock Rewrapped in a Latex Bikini? by Christine Urbanek

Last Sunday, MTV aired their annual Video Music Awards show and the media hasn’t stop buzzing about it since. If you did not see Miley Cyrus’s “performance” with Robin Thicke, surely you’ve heard about it a hundred times or more by now.

The scenario: Miley clad in a latex, nude-colored bikini, donning an oversized foam finger and thrusting out her tongue in an odd, seizure-like stabbing motion against a backdrop of childlike imagery. She gyrated and slammed into her foam finger and singer Robin Thicke who, in exchange, sluttily rubbed himself against the 20 year old in a suggestive, pseudo-sexual choreography that left many incredulous.

But what is really going on here? And is this really new? Didn’t Madonna shock and disgust viewers writhing around in a wedding gown singing “Like A Virgin”? Doesn’t Lady Gaga continue to stun audiences with her ever-decreasing clothing and overtly sexual lyrics and dance moves?

For my money it is the same old thing, but with one VERY important difference and one we had better start paying attention to--our culture.

Today’s culture, especially with regard to young women, has changed to such a degree that it seems to literally encourage exhibitionism and self-exploitation. It now seems that as long as you are the one exploiting yourself, it’s ok. As long as you are able to grab the media spotlight, regardless of what that spotlight may highlight, you have achieved something. In fact, I would go so far as to say, job well done. It’s that old adage: it doesn’t matter what they’re saying about you as long as they’re talking about you.

These sorts of antics were generally thought of as bad taste and indicative of low self-esteem or even self-loathing, but not now. Someone trading off on the easy and vacuous for a quick stab at the limelight and a shallow existence is lauded. Talent is unnecessary. Art is superfluous. Sensation is where it’s at.

The list is long these days: Kim Kardashian (her family owes her dearly for that sex tape finding its way into the public domain and sparking off the tremendous goldmine that ensued for that entire family); Michaele Salahi (she and her now ex-husband crashed a White House party knowing they would garner global attention and seal a deal to become part of Real Housewives of DC); even wealthy heiress Paris Hilton gained fame and ridiculous popularity from a sex tape gone public landing her a reality series as well as a record deal.

So how do we affect change in an ever-changing culture that is numbing our senses, threatening our mores and leaving us with declining values? It starts at home. Educate. Talk. Don’t proliferate it by buying the rag magazines at the end of the grocery store aisle. Don’t watch vacuous reality shows. Do listen to what your kids are listening to. Do watch what they are watching. Talk to them about it. Teach them about consequences. In this age of internet immediacy and viral everything, let them know that care is needed when making choices because often times there are no do-overs and if you’re not paying attention, everything you thought you stood for can be gone in a moment.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Guest Blog by Christine Urbanek

Recently a friend of mine, whose daughter had returned to an abusive relationship, asked me for some help. After returning home to a supportive family last year, my friend’s daughter had saved enough money to get an apartment and make a fresh start. So how did she end up back in the very same bad relationship she had so resolutely fled? She did so for what she felt were good and responsible reasons around affordable childcare, but it put her right back where she had been. And it happens all the time.

So, why do victims sometimes return to or stay with abusers? There are several reasons (
  • Abusers work very hard to keep victims in relationships and under their control.
  • Fear of death or more abuse if they leave. A victim’s risk of getting killed greatly increases when they are in the process of leaving or have just left.
  • Batterers are very good at making victims think that the abuse is their fault. Victims often believe that if they caused the violence, they can also stop it.
  • Victims stay because they are made to think they cannot survive on their own, financially or otherwise. Often abusers create a financial situation that makes leaving nearly impossible.
  • Survivors sometimes want the abuse to end, not the relationship.
  • A survivor may return to the abuser because that’s the person she fell in love with, and she believes his promises to change. It’s not easy for anyone to let go of hopes and dreams.
And here are the facts (
  • Nearly one in every four women are beaten or raped by a partner during adulthood.
  • 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape.
  • Three women are killed by a current or former intimate partner each day in America, on average.
  • Over 22 percent of women surveyed reported being physically assaulted by a current or former partner in their lifetime.
  • Women who were physically assaulted by an intimate partner averaged 6.9 physical assaults per year by the same partner.
  • Approximately 37% of women seeking injury-related treatment in hospital emergency rooms were there because of injuries inflicted by a current or former spouse/partner.
Given this information, perhaps the best place to start to end domestic violence is prevention. So here is a list of red flags ( Get to know them. Look around. Be aware. And if you see this in your relationship or that of a loved one, take action.

Red Flags of Abuse (
  • Wants to move too quickly into the relationship.
  • Does not honor your boundaries.
  • Is excessively jealous and accuses you of having affairs.
  • Wants to know where you are all of the time and frequently calls, emails and texts you throughout the day.
  • Criticizes you or puts you down; most commonly tells you that you are "crazy," "stupid" and/or "fat," or that no one would ever want or love you.
  • Says one thing and does another.
  • Takes no responsibility for their behavior and blames others.
  • Has a history of battering.
  • Blames the entire failure of previous relationships on their partner; for example, "My ex was a total bitch."
  • Grew up in an abusive or violent home.
  • Insists that you stop spending time with your friends or family.
  • Seems "too good to be true."
  • Insists that you stop participating in leisure interests.
  • Rages out of control and is impulsive.
If you find yourself in a violent relationship, please call the Hope House hotline at 816.461.HOPE (4673) for help. If you feel the need to do more research before making that call, we recommend the following websites for more in-depth information about recognizing domestic violence, creating a safety plan, protecting your identity and getting help.

Friday, August 2, 2013

EVENTS? YES, We’ve got ‘em!

A large part of sustaining any nonprofit is fundraising. We write grants, send out appeals and a variety of other things to raise money in order to continue to offer services. It’s a balancing act. In an effort to make it a bit more fun and celebrate with our supporters, we host a lot of events at Hope House. Some are completely our own doing; others are generously put together by other people for our benefit. In any case, we have SEVERAL coming up—something for everyone. And, although the word event conjures up images of fun, frivolity and a party-like atmosphere, it is serious business for us and represents nearly 15% of our overall annual budget. They are good fun! Join us and have fun while helping us all at the same time!

Saturday, August 17, 2013
Come dance to The Zeros, feast on wonderful food, and bid on fabulous auction items! This event has one of the largest silent auctions around! For more information, visit

Late Night party only HOPE & ALL THAT JAZZ
Saturday, August 17, 2013
This year we’re offering a special late night ticket option for those who prefer to partake only of the live music, dancing and drinks. This is a great way to get in on a super hot event! Get your tickets and more information at

September 7, 2013
Join us for the Lee’s Summit Rotary Club’s Heart of the Summit 5K/10K/1 mile Walk/Run! This year’s Heart of the Summit supports Hope House, Coldwater, Lee’s Summit Cares and Metro Cares! Get all the information at

Saturday, September 14, 2013
Held at Sunset Trails Stables in Lee's Summit and hosted by Anne Aubuchon, enjoy delicious barbeque appetizers, drinks, live and silent auctions, an exciting barrel racing demonstration and dancing to live country music! This is a real stable, with horses, hay and everything, so wear your jeans, boots and, of course, your BLING! Check it out at

Club curry monopoly
Friday, September 27, 2013
Club Curry Monopoly Mansion is a Monopoly-themed charity event taking place at the fabulous Black on Burlington. This event has been a huge hit in Las Vegas and we’re so glad that host Mark Curry is bringing it to Kansas City to benefit Hope House. Get your tickets at

Monday, September 23, 2013
There are so many ways to support Hope House and one way is through play! Join us for the 3rd Annual Birdies Charity Golf Tournament for Women. Play and make a difference all at once! More information and tickets are available at

Howlin’ For Hope
Sunday, November 10, 2013 • 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Join us at Howl at the Moon in the Power & Light District. Enjoy the World's Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Dueling Piano Show and raise funds for Hope House! This totally fun event will have you singing and dancing with everyone in the room PLUS a live auction! Check it out at