Kate lives in Johnson County, is married and has a couple of kids.
Most days are pretty normal. But on occasion, Kate and her spouse have a bit of a problem. He doesn’t want her asking about some money he spent; money issues are his.
Or maybe he came home from work in a bad mood and the kids were out of control as he walked in. When it’s about to happen, that familiar feeling of fear sets in. He has that look in his eye.
If she only had things together better he wouldn’t be upset and this might not happen. He doesn’t mean to hurt her but he loses control.
She feels like it’s kind of her fault, and it doesn’t happen that often. Next time she’ll do something — at least that’s what she tells herself.
But what would she do? It’s hard to imagine leaving. If she did, where would she go? She doesn’t have much money, and the kids would be devastated to leave their home. Quite frankly, she’s not sure she could handle it on her own. And he will be so mad. He will be crazy mad.
If you think this doesn’t happen in our neighborhood — our beautiful, tree-lined, professionally manicured Johnson County, think again.
Earlier this summer I ran a 5K for Race 4 Domestic Violence Prevention. My friend Tracey Passantino started the foundation that put on the race to help battered women after she received a call from her sister. Tracey was shocked to hear her sister tell her that she was huddled at her home on the couch with a loaded gun to protect herself.
That surprise was further amplified when she learned that the spousal abuse had been going on for years. Tracey remembers: “We started going through the process of very quickly getting her out of the house with as much stuff as we could, and she started telling me about the years of abuse.
“It was unbelievable — stories about him throwing her down a flight of stairs when she was pregnant, not showing up for family functions because she was bruised, him accusing her of having a boyfriend if she put on mascara to go to Wal-Mart. I will never forget the bruises I saw when I took her to the doctor a day after we got her to a safe place.”
The calling for this column came to me loud and clear. Besides the race, there was an invitation to a breakfast from Hope House with heartbreaking stories of sexual abuse followed by incredible examples of help and optimism.
Then I was looking to sell or donate some children’s furniture, and my husband suggested Rose Brooks. Finally, during the coverage of an NFL football player’s domestic violence incident, the sheer number of women who I talked to about this topic led me to this column with one objective: with more people paying attention, we need to tell them where to go for help.
In the Kansas City area, there are several agencies that provide domestic violence services, emergency shelter, counseling, and court advocacy and all participate in the operation of the shared metro hotline (816-HOTLINE). Calls to the hotline range from those in immediate crisis to those that would just like to talk about their situation.
The hotline for the shelter in Johnson County, SafeHome, is 913-262-2868. You will find care, resources and help understanding. Even before you decide to change your situation, they can help you plan.
At Safehome you will find an immediate place to stay, counseling, access to confidential and secure medical care, children’s services, transitional housing and help with legal services. All services are free of charge and confidential. You are not alone, and they can help you through it.
So how is Tracey’s sister doing today?
“Because of Safehome, my sister and her two young daughters were provided much needed counseling services,” Tracey was happy to share. “The counseling is still available to her. They also found grants for her to attend college. She is now an accountant, she's remarried and she's thriving — not just surviving.”
If you are in a situation like Kate, please call one of the hotline numbers above for help. It’s what they do.
If this isn’t you, but someone you want to support, all of these organizations exist today because of generous donations and caring volunteers. There are so many ways you can help.
Freelance columnist Lori Allen writes in this space once a month.