BECKLEY - Even though domestic violence is an ongoing issue in West Virginia - and the nation - there are options for victims to help them move forward.
Hamlet Smith, a therapist at Life Strategies Counseling, explained taking the step to move forward means acknowledging the problem. "There is a line there somewhere where it goes from just having somebody's back to covering up for an abuser," he said.
Crossing the line to safety might mean confiding in a loved one or taking the next step to get professional help. For adults in southern West Virginia, there is the Women's Resource Center
, which houses the largest shelter in the state.
"The shelter is here for people who need a safe place to stay temporarily until we can work with them and figure out what they want to do, what they need to do," explained Executive Director Patricia Bailey.
Services at the shelter and outreach offices are free and confidential.
For children who are abused, there are programs like the Child and Youth Advocacy Center
in Lewisburg and Just for Kids in Beckley.
Roger Lockridge, program coordinator of the Child and Youth Advocacy Center, recommended child victims get help sooner rather than later because he said the emotional effects "can do a lot of damage to children" in the long-term, bringing forth issues such as lack of self-esteem and depression.
Lockridge was abused as a child and he used that negative experience to grow as a person instead of letting it define him. He said other victims can do the same. "Through the strength I developed from overcoming these issues, I had an inner power and I used that to reach my goals," Lockridge explained. "They can do the same and they can do far greater things than I have done."
Bailey urged victims to come forward to get the help they need. "You do not deserve to be treated like this - you matter," she pleaded.
All of these resource centers help families learn their options for aspects including: therapy, medical needs, nutritional needs and legal action.
Below is a list of the West Virginia Licensed Domestic Violence Programs. Note: Numbers marked * are both voice and TTY enabled, V is voice-only, T is TTY only.
Beckley Area: 304-255-2559*
Charleston Area: 800-681-8663*
Elkins Area: 800-339-1185*
Fairmont Area: 304-367-1100*
Huntington Area: 888-538-9838*
Keyser Area: 800-698-1240 V; 800-788-6556 T
Lewisburg Area: 304-635-6334*
Martinsburg Area: 304-263-8292
Morgantown Area: 304-292-5100 V; 304-292-5112 T
Parkersburg Area: 800-794-2335*
Welch Area: 304-436-8117*
Wheeling Area: 800-698-1247*
Weirton Area: 304-797-7233*
Williamson Area: 304-235-6121*