WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — West Virginia’s Joint Committee on Health says the rate of sexual assault in the state is disturbingly high.
The prevalence of rape exceeds that of several states, including Pennsylvania, Texas and New York.
The state legislature says one in six West Virginia women will experience attempted or completed rape.
But those are just the cases law enforcement knows about.
As shocking as that is, advocates say it’s actually closer to one-third of the female population.
Wheeling’s Sexual Assault Help Center bases that number on their work with victims and calls to their free hotline.
Their executive director says there’s no one reason for the hesitancy.
Sometimes survivors are ashamed of what happened to them…and sometimes they can’t bear the thought of seeing their abuser again in a courtroom.
A lot of times many emotions and feelings play into the decisions that you’re going to make, whether or not to report it. That could be safety, that could be fear of retaliation, that’s many different kinds of different feelings that go in and out of a survivor’s brain on whether or not it’s safe for them to come forward.Ashley Carpenter, Executive Director, Sexual Assault Help Center
It isn’t talked about as much…but Carpenter says close to five percent of West Virginia men will also see abuse in their lifetime.
The number for their hotline is 1-800-884-7242 for anyone who wants to share their lived experience with a trained professional.