Woman hopes her story can help others escape the cycle of domestic violence

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- “He would threaten to kill me, my kids, ruin me financially, kill my mom,” Pamela Varner said.

Her now-ex-husband said those words to her nearly five years ago when she had the courage to end her 30-year marriage and abusive relationship.

Varner still remembers that day in detail. She was ready to leave it all behind but said her husband came home in a rage and strangled her.

“He acted as if it was nothing, reached over and picked up that skillet and started hitting me with it. In between each hit, he would say, 'it’s your fault.' I want to see the life leave your body,” said Varner.

She said she was able to run to her neighbor’s house for help. That’s when her husband greased the house and lit it on fire.

Varner reached out to Hope House and eventually pieced her life back together. Rose Brooks, another domestic violence shelter, will also provide counseling, therapy, and support.

“Our job is to safety plan with that individual and to make sure when they leave and how they leave is the safest for them and their family,” said Scott Mason, Director of Marketing at Rose Brooks.

Advocates emphasize that there is no shame or pressure in reaching out to domestic violence shelters. To end the cycle of abuse, they say you need a safety plan and a system of support.

“Don’t be me. If you keep holding on to the hope that somehow it’s going to get better, you can end up where I was,” she said.

Varner hopes her message is clear: get out because there’s no hope in making it better. There’s hope in a new beginning.

Metro-wide crisis hotline: 816.468.5463 (816.HOTLINE)

Amethyst Place — To provide safe and supportive housing to women recovering from drug and alcohol addiction and their children. Call 913.669.2029

Hope Haven of Cass County — Located in Harrisonville, Mo. Call 816.380.2833

Hope House — Mission is to break the cycle of domestic violence by providing safe refuge and supportive services that educate and empower women and their children. Located in Independence, Mo., and Lee’s Summit, Mo. Hotline 816-461-HOPE. Office 816-461-4188.

Mattie Rhodes Center — Provides a holistic approach to individual and family well-being through social services, mental health counseling and the arts. Call 816.471.2563

New House — Mission is to break the cycle of domestic violence by providing the tools which allow women to make positive choices and lead self-sufficient lives. If you need immediate help, go to a safe place and call their 24-hour hotline: 816.471.5800.

Rose Brooks — Provide emergency shelter to women and children escaping life-threatening abuse. If you are in a crisis, please call 816.861.6100.

SAFEHOME — Mission is to break the cycle of domestic violence and partner abuse for victims and their children by providing shelters, advocacy, counseling and prevention education. Located in Johnson County, Kan. Call 913.262.2868. Hablamos Espanol.

Synergy Services — Working to end violence in the community with efforts to provide safe places for victims of violence, to empower survivors to rise above their circumstances and to educate the entire community. Hotlines: 800.491.1114 and 816.468.5463 (816.HOTLINE). 24-Hour Youth Crisis Hotlines: 816.741.8700 and 888.233.1639