Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It's No Laughing Matter: Part III

One of this year’s “funny” Halloween costumes was Ray and Janay Rice. Sadly, there are also images of children in Rice jerseys dragging toy dolls with painted black eyes. Janay Rice posted a response stating, “It’s sad that my suffering amuses others.”

Too often domestic violence becomes the butt of jokes to amuse others. Domestic violence happens every day. It happens here. And, it’s no laughing matter!

This month, Hope House is sharing advocate stories leading up to #GivingTuesday on December 2nd to show DV is real (click here to see Part I and Part II). This week’s story comes from Tanya:

"The client was upset that it had gotten to a point where her abuser physically hurt her. She had already taken so much verbal abuse and manipulation. But, one day, it escalated. She wanted to go out with some friends, but he wouldn’t have it. They got into an argument. He threw out the typical manipulative terms. This time, she stood up to him. But, then he shoved her. When she fell down, he proceeded to lean over her and threaten her even more, telling her she was lucky he didn’t hit her harder.”
Most domestic violence begins with verbal abuse and/or manipulation. Abuse is abuse. If it’s a verbal put-down, a shove, or smack - It’s abuse. Next week on #GivingTuesday, Hope House will spend $3,660 for 122 people to stay in our shelter. Please stand with Hope House on December 2 to show domestic violence is real and #ItsNoLaughingMatter. Donate and share this message with others.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It's No Laughing Matter: Part II

Last week, Hope House introduced Part I of our new #ItsNoLaughingMatter campaign as part of the 2014 #GivingTuesday (
click here if you missed it).

Here is another “joke” mocking victims of domestic violence.
Posts and comments like this are starting to become all too common today. In order to help society understand that domestic violence is no laughing matter, Hope House is sharing advocate stories leading up to #GivingTuesday on December 2.

This week, we wanted to share a story from Brittny:

“During a group session at Hope House, one of the clients shared her story. She got into an argument with her ex-boyfriend after he broke into her home. She ran away for help, and in the process he shot her twice. After that, he pulled her into his car and drove off. Not knowing what he was going to do next, she risked it, opened the truck door and jumped out at 70 miles per hour. She didn’t have any other options.  It’s real.”

Notice this story was between an ex-boyfriend and the victim. Violence is 75 percent more prevalent after the victim leaves. On #GivingTuesday, December 2nd, please stand with Hope House to show domestic violence is no laughing matter. You can stand with us today by forwarding this to others. Help spread the word about domestic violence.

Can't wait to give until #GivingTuesday? Give now HERE!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It's No Laughing Matter: Part I

What’s sad is the fact that Hope House found this online as part of a satirical social media page.
From now to #GivingTuesday, December 2, Hope House would like to present the real side of domestic violence. Too many jokes are made these days of domestic violence. But, our advocates see the pain and hardship of it every day.
Take Stefanie for instance. She is an advocate who visited the hospital several times as part of Hope House’s BridgeSPAN program. View her story below:
“It was the middle of the night. The pager went off, so I responded to one of our hospitals. When I got there, the female victim was there on the hospital bed sitting upright. I greeted her and the police officer with a smile. Shortly after introducing myself and hearing her story, the doctor came in. He proceeded to take out a staple-gun to close the gash in her head where her husband had hit her with something similar to a baton. I’ve never seen something like that before and never want to again.”

As part of Hope House’s #GivingTuesday campaign, we are asking you to stand up and show that you know domestic violence is real. Hope House will spend $3,660 to pay for 122 bed stays in our shelter on #GivingTuesday. Please help us December 2 (Can't wait until then? Give now by clicking here)!  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Kander visits Hope House for DV Awareness Month

LEE’S SUMMIT, Missouri -- Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander visited Hope House today to learn more about the shelter and services provided to clients as part of October’s Domestic Violence Awareness month.
Kander was specifically interested in the success of Missouri’s “Safe at Home” program that is administered through his office to provide victims of abuse residence identification alternatives on public records.
 “We are excited to welcome Secretary Kander to our office and show him the great work we are doing in eastern Jackson County,” said MaryAnne Metheny, Hope House chief executive officer. “Violence is 75 percent more prevalent when victims courageously decide to leave their abuser. That is why we choose to be a Safe at Home program agent.”
Metheny also provided a tour to Kander and law enforcement officials in attendance.
“We appreciate the staff’s help with the Safe at Home program,” said Kander. “Having that help from the frontline is crucial to programs like Safe at Home. So, it’s encouraging to go to places like Hope House where people share such a passion for their work.”
The Safe at Home program has protected more than 2,000 Missourians since it began. It is not to be confused with a witness protection program, but another tool available for victims to protect themselves from their abusers, Kander said.
“Hope House was one of the first agents for the Safe at Home program,” said Metheny. “One of our advocates was the 69th registered agent in the state. Now, she and 27 other advocates educate roughly 30 victims a month as well as local police officers and hospital staff on the benefits of the program.”
Domestic Violence Awareness month began in October 1987, which was the year the first national toll-free domestic violence hotline began. Purple is worn throughout the month to promote awareness.
Hope House is Missouri’s largest domestic violence shelter. Founded more than 30 years ago, the organization provides a 122-bed shelter; a 24-hour crisis hotline; outreach therapy groups and child care services; legal services to assist victims; and a speakers’ bureau to educate law enforcement, hospital staff and volunteers.
For more information about Hope House, please call 816-257-9363 or visit www.hopehouse.net. For the 24-hour Hotline, please call 816-461-HOPE (4673).

Friday, September 19, 2014

Where Are You Now

In June of 2014, the body of Shaunda Thomas was found lying in the middle of a Kansas City apartment complex playground. Murdered by her long-time boyfriend, Shaunda leaves behind her four children, family and friends. In response to their employee Shaunda’s death and the prevalence of domestic violence in our community, Time Warner Cable has designed a program for their work force called “Shaunda’s Voice.” This program strives to provide education and support for those affected by domestic violence.

Anne Vega wrote a poem about domestic violence earlier this year, only to then lose her friend and co-worker Shaunda to such violence just a few months later. Anne shared her poem at the kick-off for the “Shaunda’s Voice” program, and she has been so generous to share it here today.

Where Are You Now

White beaded flowing royal dress
Mermaid, princess, traditional she truly did impress
He took her hand and repeated what the minister said to say
She looked in his eyes and gave him her life that day

She gave her heart, all he ever wanted was her body and soul
Two but one divided, will they ever be made whole
The gown now stained, faded and soiled
A reminder of the hope for happiness now quickly recoiled

Silent days, lonely, dark and painful nights
A child on the way, she believes she must sacrifice her rights
Hiding in the shadows hoping no one would notice
Her blood stained cheeks and weak smile, she keeps up appearances

Words now exchanged are cordial and cool
Except for his words that begin by calling her a fool
Where are you God? she cries in desperation
Is there anyone who can help in this situation?

She musters the strength, packs a bag and is ready to flee 
He runs after her with roses and promises with insincerity
She remembers her vow on that now fateful day
Looks in the children's eyes and agree once more to stay

This viral germ has spread from home to home
With no regard for culture, income, neighborhood or zone
Please join me in the fight to end this destructive spiraling social disease
One by one, looking for signs and opportunities, be compelled to seize

Where is God? I still hear that cry
Oh my daughter, my sister, my mother, my niece, my aunt, my cousin, my neighbor, my friend, He is close by
Ready to save for this was never His plan…..but first you must agree
He needs our full cooperation for you to break free.

Anne Vega 2/1/14

Monday, September 15, 2014

What do YOU think?

Is there anything different that I can say that has not already been said? Haven’t we all heard it over and over this past week? Ray Rice did this, Ray Rice did that. That woman is a gold-digger, she must have deserved it. Why didn’t she leave? Why did she stay?

Is it any wonder that my teenage daughter is confused? She came to me and said that Janay Rice was stupid for marrying him. My daughter!! I’ve worked with domestic violence survivors for over 4 years, and my own flesh-and-blood feels this way! Oh how I have failed!

But wait a minute. If my own child (who is very smart, by the way) thinks Janay Rice made a mistake by loving and marrying an abuser, and she has a mother who is adamantly against DV, then what do other people think? What do YOU think?

Did you know that domestic violence is about power and control? It’s a pattern of abusive behavior used by one partner against another. And it comes in all forms: physical, sexual, emotional, economic, and psychological. So now think back to the awful elevator video we saw of Ray Rice striking Janay. We saw the horrible physical violence. But what was happening that we did not see?

Abusers use certain behaviors to influence another person: intimidation, manipulation, and humiliation. They isolate their victim, frighten, terrorize, blame, hurt, injure, coerce and threaten. So now think back to the awful elevator video again. What we see is that words were being spoken, an argument was going on. Ray Rice spit on Janay twice (which in and of itself is a highly offensive, degrading act), then he struck her. Hard. We don’t know what she said to him, but he didn’t like it. He didn’t have control of what was coming out of her mouth, so he struck her in an attempt to gain control. And it worked. She lay unconscious and boy did he show her.


And what he showed her is that he is the one in control. Now we see them married and she is standing by his side in the aftermath of his suspension from the NFL. We’ve seen the Instagram message she wrote, stating that she and Ray will “continue to grow and show the world what real love is.”

Breaks. My. Heart.

Here is my message to Janay Rice: Real love doesn’t punch you in the face. Real love doesn’t spit on you. Real love doesn’t drag your unconscious body out of an elevator and just step around it. That isn’t real love. Maybe you have no one to help you leave. Maybe you are afraid of being alone. Maybe you think you can change him. And I’m sure he promised to never do it again. And maybe, just maybe you are scared he will hurt you again. Not to mention that all eyes are on you now, so if you do leave, what will THEY say?

What can WE do to stop the violence? What can YOU do to stop the violence? The mission of Hope House is to save the lives of those affected by domestic violence. Today we offer not just shelter, but we work at prevention, education and we are here to support. Always. YOU can help us. You can speak out against domestic violence. This is a community-wide problem, affecting all income and social statuses. And children who witness domestic violence suffer greatly.  

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to continue working every single day to put an end to domestic violence. Tonight however, my first priority when I get home will be to sit down with my daughter and explain to her that Janay Rice is a woman in love with a man who hurt her. That doesn’t make her a bad person. And it doesn’t make her a stupid person. We don’t know all the reasons Janay Rice stayed, and we don’t have to. But we do need to give her love and support, and be here waiting to help when she’s ready for it.

Stefanie Shanks
Special Events & PR Manager - Hope House

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Response to Governor LePage's Letter Regarding Ray Rice

I would like to applaud Maine’s Governor, Paul LePage for his stance on domestic violence. Governor LePage sent a letter to NFL Commission Roger Goodell telling him the punishment given to the Baltimore Ravens running back sends the message that it's OK "for professional athletes to beat women, just for the sake of ratings."
He goes on to say that "Taking thugs and wife-beaters off the field may be bad for business, but you are playing games with people's lives," said LePage, who was beaten by his father when he was young and has made domestic abuse prevention and awareness a priority of his administration.
I was extremely disappointed when I heard of the punishment given to Ray Rice for knocking his then fiancĂ© unconscious in an elevator.  I only know what I have read in the papers but what I read is text book domestic violence and I know that the only way we will ever stop domestic violence is to hold the perpetrators accountable. Domestic violence is about power and control and in this situation it feels very much like Ray Rice continues to have power and be in control and his work place is enabling it to continue. The justice system response in my opinion was light and more of a slap on the wrist, not what you would expect for someone who beat someone so brutally. It was so difficult to watch the video—I wasn’t able to watch it all the way through.
 I have to wonder what would have happened if it would have been a stranger or perhaps another team member he knocked unconscious. Would the punishment have been the same? I think not. From my experience it would have been severe but when we are talking about a spouse or intimate partner, for some reason, in our society the guidelines change and it isn’t as much of a problem or, worse yet, it is her fault. I have said this numerous times when it comes to domestic violence, we as a society are so quick to blame the victim rather than hold the perpetrator accountable. I find this appalling.
I would hope that we could come to a place where we say no matter who you are, no matter what your position, no matter how much money you make it, doesn’t matter. If you are a perpetrator of domestic violence you should be held accountable for your crime. Remember, domestic violence is a crime, it isn’t a family issue, and it isn’t the victim’s fault. Responsibility lies with the one committing the crime.
I ask that we all work together to end this vicious crime and keep people safe. Hold perpetrators accountable through the justice system and in our policies in the work place.
Domestic violence is not ok, period.
Read more here.

Friday, August 8, 2014

'Tis the Season for Events! Join Us and Party With Purpose...

Part of what we do at Hope House is find ways to engage donors in fun, participatory ways. Because of that, we have many different events to offer our supporters throughout the year. Sure, we do the standard nonprofit stuff like write grants, send letters out explaining what we do, why we do it and asking you to please donate and, increasingly, we take part in online charity challenges whenever we are awarded the opportunity to do so. But events are a big deal for us. They represent nearly 15% of our overall annual budget PLUS they give us the chance to celebrate and spend time with our supporters and community. Take a look at our upcoming events and see if you might like to join us at one. There's definitely something for everybody, so consider partying with a purpose! 

Saturday, August 16, 2014 5:30pm - Midnight at The Meuhlebach Hotel
It's the silver anniversary of JAZZ! That's right, this event is in its 25th year. So come and join us! Dance to Drew Six, feast on fabulous food, and bid on fantastic auction items at one of the best live and silent auctions around! For more information, visit hopehouse.net/jazz2014.

Club curry Speak Easy Affair
Friday, September 5, 2014
7pm - Midnight
Vegas comes to KCMO with Club Curry, a 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. And he's bringing Vegas DJ Nick Ayler to rock the house too! Get your tickets at 2014ClubCurryTickets

Monday, September 22, 2014
• 8am Registration • 9am Tee Time
Join us for the 4th Annual Birdies Charity Golf Tournament for Women. Play and make a difference all at once! More information and tickets are available at hopehouse.net/birdies.

Howlin’ For Hope
Sunday, October 12, 2014 • 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm

Come sing with us at
the 7th annual Howlin' For Hope 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 hopehouse.net/howl2014.

Saturday, October 18, 2014
• 7pm - Midnight
Saddle up and head over to Sunset Trails Stables in Lee's Summit for the 2nd annul Boots & Bling hosted by Anne Aubuchon! Enjoy delicious BBQ, drinks, live and silent auctions and great music and dancing to Ryan Triggs and The Rivet Busters! This is a real stable, with horses, hay and everything, so wear your jeans, boots and, of course, your BLING! Check it out at hopehouse.net/bootsandbling.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Guest Blogger Chad Leabo Rants about Domestic Violence

Each time I hear about the way society views domestic violence it get’s my blood pressure up. Here in the west we do a lot of finger-wagging at cultures where women are not treated with the respect we think they should be afforded. I’m calling us (the western world) out on that.

Is it worse that girls in Africa are kidnapped for going to school? Yes. Is it worse that, in less-evolved parts of the Islamic world, girls are beaten or killed for going to school or learning to read? Yes. Is it worse that in many cultures, where arranged marriages exist and someone marries for love, ignoring the families’ social contracts, the woman is then killed to protect the family honor? Yes. Is it worse in places where girls are sold into sexual slavery? Yes (though it happens here too). Is it worse in south Asia and the middle-east that a woman can legally be punished for the “crime” of being raped. Absolutely.

However, as bad those places may be--and the treatment of women is abhorrent in those places in my opinion--we have a long, long way to go here as well.

Take the recent murder of a five year old girl in Leavenworth, KS last week. I’ve been following domestic violence (DV) related stories for years now, due to my wife’s job at Hope House. I can spot them in the news with a high degree of accuracy. You can too. When the report came out that a man had allegedly kidnapped a child and was led on a chase and he then allegedly killed the child when police had cornered him. I knew the story. It’s not unusual in cases of DV, especially if the woman is in the process of leaving, for the abuser to take her or even her kids out. That’s the most lethal time, when he thinks she is going to leave. It’s about control. Killing the mother’s kids is the ultimate abuse to a mother. Killing the mother herself is the ultimate control.

Women rarely get murdered. When they do, a vast majority of the time, DV is a factor. Then the victim blaming begins. This is the part that bothers me the most. I try to not read the reader comments on news stories because of the depressing ignorance and vengeance-airing that occurs in such forums. However, as I read that story’s comments I was not surprised by the comments of “why didn’t she leave him?” and, “they should charge her (the mother) too (in the death of the little girl).” In DV nobody every asks, “Why didn’t he stop abusing her?”

In DV situations where a man is abusing a woman, statistically she will leave seven times before actually leaving for good. Like I said, the time when she is leaving is highly dangerous. It’s a time of high lethality. If she has kids, whether they are his or not, she may come back or delay leaving for good because she may figure if she has to take a beating so her kids have a place to live, so be it. That’s sad but kind of admirable in a way. But one must remember that DV is learned behavior. Both parties likely witnessed it growing up. If you see that as part of life, you accept it, right or wrong.

Many people hide behind traditional social norms of the man being in charge. Many hide behind religious beliefs for women being subservient to men. But, when you strip it all away, are those views any less wrong than honor killings (which are backed up for the same reasons)?

Recently the NFL gave Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice a slap on the wrist for knocking his the fiancĂ©e unconscious at an Atlantic City casino. He got a two game suspension. Two games. Had he been busted for steroids he’d have gotten twice that. What does that teach little boys about consequences? What does that teach little girls about their value? She didn’t press charges. Why didn’t she press charges? Remember this is learned behavior. This is part of life for her. Sadly I predict she will be hit again. Will she live in luxury? Yes, not that that matters in the long run. Most women who are survivors of DV do not live that lifestyle.

They live in your neighborhood. They work with you. They go to church with you. They’re in some part of your family. About 50 percent of the human population of planet Earth is carrying XX chromosomes (that means they’re women FYI). One in four of those women will experience some type of DV (emotional, or physical) in her lifetime. Those are your daughters, friends, nieces (my wife and I have five nieces), granddaughters...DV crosses all socio-economic and racial lines. Let us not throw away half of the population.

Breaking the cycle of DV is the most important part of fixing the problem. Boys who witness abuse are more than twice as likely to be abusers. Yet programs, which try to intervene and mitigate the damage done to these young witnesses, are poorly funded and not far-reaching enough. At times it’s like trying to fill the Grand Canyon with rocks.

Shelters are the last resort for victims of DV. Survivors go there after they’ve exhausted all other options, like family and friends. In the KC metro, organizations like Hope House, Rosebrooks, Safehome, etc., also serve as court advocates, and have legal outreach programs too. They help get women out of dangerous situations. It would be awesome if places like those didn’t have to exist. But they do. No court advocate or anyone on their legal team has a day without multiple cases. Not one bed goes unused in the shelter. Ever.

Supporting entities which try to stop or prevent domestic violence is not sexy. The DV shelter in your community is not fancy. It needs money to keep its doors open. Not your cast-off out of date clothes and broken TVs. The well-heeled in your city don’t get giddy over having their name on the building which protects abused humans. The DV shelter in your community is not a warm and fuzzy charity. Domestic violence is a scary, disturbing and sometimes confusing topic. It is real life and death. I sometimes wonder if Sarah McLachlan (who I love) did PSAs which showed women (and men) with broken wrists, bruised faces, and cigarette burned skin if it would help. Probably not. The ignorant would blame the victim again. It takes time to break out of DV relationships. Sometimes people need a little help. Stop blaming the victims and let them become survivors.

Parents it’s up to you. Your kids are little sponges. Teach them respect. Teach them to communicate. Teach them boundaries. Teach them right and wrong. Give your kids good examples. It’s on you. In the words of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, “…teach your children well.”

Chad Leabo

Friday, July 18, 2014

#OperationGirl Charity Challenge by John Legend, Ryot & Burkle Global Impact Initiative

We're super excited to let you know that we're part of the #OperationGirl Charity Challenge, a fundraising campaign launched by John Legend, RYOT and the Burkle Global Impact Initiative.

To give back, they will be donating $100,000 to organizations like ours focused on women and girls. The charity that raises the most throughout the Challenge will get a $50,000 donation. Second place gets $20,000, third gets $10,000.

We're out to raise as much money as possible for our cause so we can win the $50,000 grand prize donation.

We think we can win and to do so, we definitely need your help. We'll be sending emails throughout the Challenge and we'll be asking for you to give. Every donation makes a difference, no matter how small. Every dollar counts.

To help now, please CLICK HERE and give whatever you can.

Or, if you want to go one step further, GO HERE and click 'Fundraise for This Campaign.' In seconds, you'll have your own fundraiser that you can share with all of your family and friends so that you can raise money for our cause too.

Please email CrowdRise at OperationGirl@CrowdRise.com if you have any questions at all and they'll help solve everything.

Thanks so much for your support!

Hope House

Friday, June 13, 2014


Father's Day is Sunday and it's important to note that Dads, all over the world, are uniquely positioned to instill character and values in our boys. They are often the ones our sons look to for guidance--the ones our boys look to as role models. But often in society we raise our boys with a set of values that don't serve them well and, consequently, don't serve any of us. 

They are often taught to:
  • Be strong.
  • Have all of the answers.
  • Be aggressive.
  • Control their emotions.
  • Be in charge of their relationships.
This messaging can be the basis of behavior that sparks sexual and domestic violence. With one in four women experiencing domestic violence in their lifetime and one in five sexually assaulted at college, this messaging has to change. Instead, we need to teach our young men to:
  • Express their emotions rather than hold them in.
  • Be fair in their relationships.
  • Be compassionate and understanding.
  • Realize that equality benefits everyone.
So, for Father's Day, let's thank all of those amazing dads out there for being the positive force in their sons' lives and for teaching them to grow up to be good men of strong character rather than just strong men.

Happy Father's Day!