BUCKHANNON — The Upshur County Commission voted to approve a proclamation noting April 2022 to be Sexual Assault Awareness Month at the meeting on Thursday, April 7.
Addie Helmick was present on behalf of Women’s Aid in Crisis to read to proclamation on Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Helmick read the proclamation which stated, “Whereas Sexual Assault Awareness Month is attempting to draw attention to the fact that sexual violence against the citizens of Upshur County continues.
“Whereas sexual violence is an intolerable violent crime that affects every person in Upshur County as a victim or survivor or as a family member, significant other, neighbor, or co-worker of the survivor or victim. It is critical to prevent the future violation of our citizens.
“Whereas Upshur County recognizes that no one person, agency, or community can eliminate sexual violence on their own. We must work together to educate the population about what can be done to prevent sexual violence and to support the victims and survivors and increase support for agencies providing services to victims and survivors.
“Whereas West Virginia sexual assault programs and other professionals, such as law enforcement and child advocacy centers, have worked together with the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services (WVFRIS) to support each other and their work to provide our state and our citizens with information on sexual violence.
“Whereas educational services and support are offered to Upshur County throughout the year.”
All commissioners voted to approve the proclamation. According to fris.org, the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services (WVFRIS) is West Virginia’s state sexual assault coalition. WVFRIS was established in 1982 and is comprised of the State’s rape crisis centers. WVFRIS works with the rape crisis centers and other allied professionals to develop and strengthen intervention and prevention programs in the state that address sexual violence and stalking. Note that WVFRIS also addresses the issues of human trafficking and dating violence because they often involve sexual violence and stalking. WVFRIS encourages and supports related state and local efforts to respond to and eliminate these forms of violence in partnership with other allied organizations.
WVFRIS supports the rights of all victims to accessible, free and confidential services where they are treated with dignity and respect. WVFRIS supports the rights guaranteed through the Sexual Assault Victims Bill of Rights, and the rights of victims to make autonomous choices about reporting, prosecution, healthcare, safety and their personal needs.
Women’s Aid in Crisis (WAIC) is also accessible for free support and services. “It was established in 1979 as a private, non-profit corporation to provide comprehensive services to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence in a six-county area. Services include: 24-hour crisis hotline, emergency shelter, cell phone program, information and referral, medical advocacy, individual and group counseling, and assistance in obtaining housing, legal, occupational and financial services, parenting and life skills. WAIC staff and volunteers also offer community education on sexual assault, dating violence and domestic violence to schools, civic groups and community organizations throughout the six-county catchment area. The executive offices and shelter are located in Randolph County, with additional counties served through outreach offices,” per the fris.org webpage. The Buckhannon office can be reached by calling (304) 473-0070.