Advocates push for more funding for sexual violence prevention & intervention

West Virginia Headlines

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WTRF) –

A female in West Virginia is more likely to be a victim of an attempted or completed forceful rape than be a survivor of cancer or experience an opioid overdose. 

The need for help for these victims is there, but the funding from the state isn’t. 

Prevention, education within the community, so there’s quite a large need for us.  

Ashley Carpenter, Upper Ohio Valley Sexual Assault Help Center

Normally on this day advocates for survivors of sexual assault would be running around the West Virginia Legislature seeking out lawmakers to discuss pressing issues.

It’s part of the annual Sexual Violence Awareness Day.

Instead they’re meeting virtually to talk about critical needs that they want addressed. That need may be greater than you realize. 

Before we continue, if you are a victim of sexual assault or sexual violence you can call the Upper Ohio Valley Sexual Assault Help Center 24/7 at 1-800-884-7242.

Information about other crisis centers can be found by clicking here.

Sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes, but is the number one reason for incarceration in the state’s prisons. 

We as a state have paid $42 million dollars for those incarcerated individuals. With our current state funding in 2020, we were allotted $250,0000 divided by 12 rape crisis centers in the state.

Ashley Carpenter, Upper Ohio Valley Sexual Assault Help Center

That means each county only gets about $4,500 for an entire year of services, which is why one of the main items on the day’s agenda was to push lawmakers to restore $500,000 in funding previously given in 2012 for intervention and prevention. 

While money hasn’t increased, services have. 

Advocates explain that their organizations are 95% federally funded, which means budgets fluctuate. However, when the funding is less they can’t just cut services. They have to be available for those in need in West Virginia’s counties 24/7.

It’s even funding new and innovative services like untested rape kit backlog and human trafficking survivors, which are parts of services we weren’t even doing in 2012.

Katie Spriggs, Eastern Panhandle Empowerment Center

Funding is only part of this equation. 

The other half is legislation, which includes bills to make sexual extorsion a crime. 

Our code only includes the issue of force or some type of manipulation like with drugs or alcohol or an issue of age.

Nancy Hoffman, West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services

They also are pushing for continued updates to the definition of stalking, which is important in prosecuting sexual violence cases. 

Which really kind of fits hand in hand with an issue like this because that’s behavior that you oftentimes see prior to the perpetration of a sexual crime. It’s an individual might stalk their victim for a week, it could be a day, it could be a month.

State Senator Ryan Weld, (R) Brooke

If you are a victim of sexual assault or sexual violence you can call the Upper Ohio Valley Sexual Assault Help Center 24/7 at 1-800-884-7242.

Information about other crisis centers can be found by clicking here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

video

More Video

Don't Miss

Trending Stories

More Top News

WTRF 7News Twitter