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

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

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

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

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