FAYETTEVILLE, WV (WOAY) – October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and every year the Women’s Resource Center honors local leaders and local law enforcement in Fayette County who have worked hand in hand with the center in the fight against domestic violence.
Typically, the Incite Hope awards and candlelight vigil is open to the public, but with COVID guidelines it place, it was just the honorees and one family member who attending the ceremony on Wednesday.
Belinda Hopkins is the domestic violence victim advocate for Fayette County and says she wanted to still have the event to raise awareness and show the public the lights that still exist during this dark time.
“The people today and the people moving forward in the communities that will be recognized every year for the Women’s Resource Center Domestic Violence Incite Hope Award, it’s needed. They need to know that they’re appreciated,” Hopkins said.
Community leaders from the prosecuting attorney’s office, Just for Kids Child Advocacy Center, DHHR and the health department were all honored for their work. On the law enforcement side, officers from the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, West Virginia State Police, Fayetteville Police and Oak Hill Police were also honored.
Levi Garretson is a deputy with Fayette County and was given one of the awards.
“I take domestic violence very seriously. I was doing some research that shows 1/3 of all homicides in the state of West Virginia are domestic-related, 2/3 of women that are murdered in West Virginia have been murdered by a household member or a family member, so I think it’s a matter that should be taken very seriously,” he said. “Definitely on my end, it’s zero tolerance. And I do what I can to help, especially working with Women’s Resource Center and all that.”
This was also a chance to remember lives lost to domestic violence as they lit candles in their memory.
Those in attendance also took the time to recognize survivors who have come forward and gotten help. Fayette County Sheriff Mike Fridley says it is the victims’ resiliency and the community partnerships that give him hope.
“My men and women that work and not just mine in the sheriff’s office but the municipalities, the West Virginia State Police, it’s a partnership. We work together to stop the violence,” he said.
During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Women’s Resource Center continues to empower male and female victims and continues to spread awareness in the community.
“Break the silence. Stop the violence. Just say no more,” Hopkins said.
Hopkins says if you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, you can go to their website to find out the best resources available to get help: http://www.wrcwv.org/
Here are a full list of award winners:
Sheriff Mike Fridley, Fayette County Sheriff’s Department
Deputy First Class Gerald Rinehart, Fayette County Sheriff’s Department
Deputy Levi Garretson, Fayette County Sheriff’s Department
Ray Wes Toney, Fayette County Asst. Prosecuting Attorney
William Christopher Burdick, Fayette County Asst. Prosecuting Attorney
Manon Wheeler, Forensic Interview/Family Advocate for Just for Kids Child Advocacy Center
Cpl. John S. Syner, West Virginia State Police
Sgt. Joseph L. Milam, West Virginia State Police
Captain Chad Edward Davis, Fayetteville Police
James Elmore, Family Support Specialist with Fayette County DHHR
Lt. Shannon Prince, Oak Hill Police
Teri Harlan, Fayette County Health Dept. Administrator