Local officials gathered at Elkins City Hall Monday for the signing of a proclamation naming October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
"We as a city need to support the programs, organizations and agencies who are promoting prevention and support for those affected by domestic violence," Elkins Mayor Van Broughton said.
Such a program is Women's Aid in Crisis, which covers Randolph County and five other local counties and helps provide counseling and sheltering for victims of sexual or domestic violence and stalking.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Chad Clem
Taking part in a proclamation signing Monday are, from left, back row, Peggy Rittenhouse, shelter manager for Women’s Aid in Crisis; Elkins Police Lt. S.D. Richards; Lisa Corley, case manager for WAIC; Rebecca Vance, director of Randolph County Family Resource Network; Jolene Kennedy, of FRN; Melody Himes, of the Children’s Advocacy Center; middle row, Jane Chapman, WAIC shelter manager; and front row, Debbie Stalnaker Riddleberger, WAIC shelter manager; Elkins Mayor Van Broughton and Jean Poling, legal advocate for WAIC.
WAIC also provides transitional housing for victims who have left the shelter or an abusive relationship to qualified survivors who are able to rent for a cost. The rest of the services are free and all services are confidential.
Marcia Drake, executive director, defines abuse as "any pattern or behavior that exerts power or control of another person."
"We bring in roughly 1,300 people per year and shelter up to 70 per year," Drake said. "This year alone, there have been 31 deaths in West Virginia that appear to have been caused by domestic violence, both homocides and suicides."
Drake said the proclamation is a great way to "bring awareness to the forefront for at least October."
WAIC receives support from the community, including from the Elkins Women's Club, which has been partnering with WAIC to spread awareness of domestic violence in the area.
The Randolph County Prosecutor's Office is holding a candlelight vigil later in the month in honor of those affected by domestic violence.
The proclamation signed Monday reads: "The City of Elkins domestic assault programs, other professionals, and supporters have joined together to promote domestic violence prevention by offering educational services throughout the year, and desire public support and assistance to continue to work toward a society where all women, children and men can live in peace, free from violence and exploitation."
Contact Chad Clem by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.