Advocates bring awareness to sexual assault in state legislature

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FAYETTEVILLE, WV (WVNS) — In West Virginia one in six women and one in 21 men will be victims of an attempted or completed sexual assault in their life time according to the West Virginia DHHR.

On Thursday, Mar. 4, 2021, members of the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services (FRIS) held a zoom call with the state legislature to bring attention to the issue.

Director of FRIS Nancy Hoffman said several bills were introduced this year to address this issue, including Senate Bill 495, which exposes the crime of sexual extortion.

“Address the issue of when someone in power or authority manipulates, and misuses their sense of authority to coerce someone into some kind of sexual action,” Hoffman said.

Here in Southern West Virginia, there are many resources available for victims. Women’s Resource Center Victim Advocate Twanna Warner said at the WRC they are with the victims from the beginning stages to the end of treatment.

“We have a support group. We as victim advocates go to court with them. I also go in to the exam room. I get called out so we try to go with that victim from the beginning to the end,” Warner said.

Warner is also a victim of assault and she said having centers like this are vital in helping victims grow and recover from their trauma.

“I’ve been a victim before so I know how it feels. It is an every day process that you go through and throughout our community and with your friends and family, the wonderful women’s resource center and legislatures you can heal, you really can,” Warner said.

The Women’s Resource Center has four outreach offices in Beckley, Fayetteville, Hinton and Summersville. They also have a 24/7 hotline for victims to call if the offices are closed.

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