Carey Roberts
Hope House shelter denies woman the help she 'desperately needed'
FacebookTwitterGoogle+
By Carey Roberts
August 24, 2009

Two years ago a newspaper account alleged Hope House, a domestic violence shelter located in Charleston, West Virginia, had admitted an abusive woman to its facility, misled sheriff deputies, and denied her the help she needed: www.wvrecord.com/news/202143-victims-of-false-domestic-violence-reporting-detail-experiences Now, new documents have come to light that detail how the domestic violence system apparently failed to help a woman who urgently needed medical treatment.

Eileen Pope was diagnosed with a mental disorder and was prescribed psychotropic medications in late 2006. The pills interfered with her sleep to the point that she eventually stopped taking them, and she relapsed into her bouts of verbal abuse.

One day in January 2007 Mr. Charles Pope came home to find his wife in a highly agitated state. He immediately telephoned the family pastor, Rev. Linda Duncan, for help. Without warning, Mrs. Pope began to threaten and chase him around the table. Just as the pastor came in the house, she violently shoved him backwards.

The police arrived shortly afterwards. Because they were trained to believe the male partner is always culpable for domestic violence, they started to arrest him. But the pastor, who had just witnessed the incident, explained it was Mrs. Pope who was the aggressor.

The police took Mrs. Pope to the Charleston Area Medical Center for treatment. There she falsely told the social worker that she, not her husband, was a victim of domestic violence. The hospital worker took her claim at face value and didn't bother to check the police report. Mrs. Pope, now officially dubbed a "victim" of domestic violence, was transferred to the nearby Hope House shelter.

According to its website, the mission of Hope House is to "eliminate domestic violence through leadership, education, empowerment, and community collaboration." Hope House operates on a budget upwards of three-quarters of a million dollars, so it's safe to say the program is no fly-by-night operation.

According to Mrs. Pope's recent statement, "I told the shelter staff that I was a victim of domestic violence and needed help...The staff asked me for no proof [of abuse] or no identification. The truth was I was not a domestic violence victim but had abused my husband." (emphasis added)

Once ensconced at the facility, Mrs. Pope faced a decidedly non-therapeutic environment. "I often felt unsafe. There were several physical and verbal altercations between the shelter residents. I had clothing stolen from me," she relates.

She began to fret she wasn't getting psychiatric help. "Several days later, I notified my pastor, Reverend Linda Duncan, of my whereabouts. Reverend Duncan, in turn, told my husband."

So on January 16, 2007, Mr. Charles Pope filed an Application for Involuntary Custody for Mental Health Examination. The Mental Hygiene Commissioner approved Mr. Pope's petition, ordering the sheriff to escort Mrs. Pope to a hearing in his chambers the next day.

But when the sheriff arrived at the shelter, Mrs. Pope wasn't there — at least that's what shelter staff said.

But that wasn't true, according to Mrs. Pope: "My husband attempted to get help for me through a mental hygiene petition. However, the YWCA Hope House Staff blocked my husband's efforts by telling the officials (law enforcement) that I was not at the domestic violence shelter."

Mrs. Pope missed her hearing with the Mental Hygiene Commissioner, haplessly concluding, "This prevented me from getting the professional assistance I desperately needed."

Three months later the distraught woman found herself languishing at the shelter. But in mid-April events took an unexpected course. "The staff and administrators appeared to be angry with me. I did not know why. Then the director told me that I must leave the shelter," Mrs. Pope recounts. Three days later she was out the door, dispatched to a homeless shelter.

And why the sudden change of heart? Because Mr. Pope had succeeded in finding a public forum to share the account of his wife, who was unable to get urgently needed psychological help.

Most abuse shelters impose a 1-2 month limit. So why did the Hope House keep the woman in the shelter for so long? Mrs. Pope believes the reason was less than altruistic: "I believe there was some financial incentive for YWCA Hope House to have me remain at the domestic violence shelter because I am physically handicapped, mentally handicapped, over the age of 40 years and an African American female."

Throughout her shelter stay, she did not receive any prescribed medicines for her mental health condition or undergo professional counseling. By Mrs. Pope's account, the Hope House staff thwarted a sheriff's attempt to comply with a court order, did not provide a safe environment, and deterred her from receiving the medical care she required.

When these facts came to light, she was summarily removed from the facility.

© Carey Roberts

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

Click to enlarge

Carey Roberts

Carey Roberts is an analyst and commentator on political correctness. His best-known work was an exposé on Marxism and radical feminism... (more)

More by this author