Grant Program Aims To ‘STOP’ Violence
Wetzel County will now have it’s own STOP (Services, Training, Officers, Prosecutors) Violence Against Women program now in place thanks to a STOP Grant received with the blessing of the Wetzel County Commissioners.
Wetzel County was awarded $107,372 from the STOP Violence
Against Women American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant.
In July, Sheriff Hoskins, along with Tricia Flanigan, deputy director of the YWCA; Lori Jones, business manager; and Debbie Wood, Family Violence Prevention Program director; were before the Wetzel County Commissioners to explain about the grant money received and what the program will do for the women in Wetzel County.
The STOP program supports communities in their efforts to hire and retain criminal justice and victim services personnel that respond to violent crimes against women. This is a proactive approach in dealing with Wetzel County’s violence against women that is an issue many residents may not know about.
According to Wood, there is now an advocate in Wetzel County to assist in the needs of women dealing with violence.
Mitzi Wendell is the new STOP Advocate for Wetzel County. Her job is to explain to women their rights, the details of a protective order, and about magistrate court and criminal court. She is there to offer support and help women in their situations.
Leslie Mateer is Wetzel County’s legal advocate for the violence program and her job is to help women on the legal issues of domestic violence. This can be dealing with protective orders, assisting in family court, and explaining the process and the legal wording used in the court system. Many women do not understand the court system and it can intimidating to be before a judge for the first time. This is where the advocates step in to help.
A liaison person will also be hired also to work with the Wetzel County Sheriff’s Department. Jones spoke of how this person will attend court hearings, working on family cases and much more. “This is a collaboration work with the Wetzel County Sheriff’s Department,” explained Jones.
Hoskins also told the commissioners in a July 28 commission meeting that this person will be involved in every aspect of the county involving domestic violence. This would include the outlying areas of Wetzel County. “We can get to these victims and help with their needs,” he explained.
With the advocates and liaison persons in place, Wetzel County can now deal with violence against women and give help where it is needed.
The U.S. government estimates one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year. U.S. government statistics reveal one in six women will experience an attempted or completed rape at some time in her life.
According the United States Department of Justice, approximately 500,000 women are estimated to be victims of some form of rape or sexual assault each year in the United States. A coordinated state and community response from advocacy organizations, the criminal justice system, and other leaders is critical to reducing violent crimes against women by enhancing victim safety and offender accountability.
Domestic Violence can be in many forms and women need to know them.
Physical Abuse: Hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting, hair-pulling, biting, etc. Physical abuse also includes denying a partner medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use.
Sexual Abuse: Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact or behavior without consent. Sexual abuse includes, but is certainly not limited to marital rape, attacks on sexual parts of the body, forcing sex after physical violence has occurred, or treating one in a sexually demeaning manner.
Emotional Abuse: Undermining an individual’s sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem. This may include, but is not limited to constant criticism, diminishing one’s abilities, name-calling, or damaging one’s relationship with his or her children.
Economic Abuse: Making or attempting to make an individual financially dependent by maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding one’s access to money, or forbidding one’s attendance at school or employment.
Psychological Abuse: Causing fear by intimidation; threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner’s family or friends; destruction of pets and property; and forcing isolation from family, friends, or school and/or work.
The Domestic Violence Program offers free confidential services and they inform a person of their options and choices. They will provide shelter for you and your children if it is needed. You are not required to use the shelter in order to receive their services.
Beside the legal issues this program also helps with, they can offer assistance in personal and medical needs, child advocacy, crisis intervention, and 911 emergency cell phones. They also provide support groups, transitional housing, and batterers intervention prevention.
Wetzel County’s Family Violence Prevention Program can be reached by calling (304) 455-6400. They are located on 203 Main St., New Martinsville. You can also call a 24-hour hotline toll free at 1-800-698-1247 that is through the YWCA.
Help can also be a phone call away with the Wetzel County Sheriff’s Department by calling (304) 455-2430 or the New Martinsville Police Department by calling (304) 455-9100.