CHARLESTON, W.Va. — October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence took some time Thursday to honor the effort taking in the Mountain State.
Every year the Coalition hands out the Purple Ribbon Awards to advocates from across the state who are committed to ending the violence.
“Folks work so hard on the local level and the state level doing this work and we have people that just go over and above because they’re passionate about domestic violence and they’re passionate about the work,” said Coalition Team Coordinator Tonia Thomas.
This year Eileen Barker, Jim McKay, Tara Martinez, and Marcia Drake were honored in the ceremony held in Charleston. Thomas said they deserve the recognition.
“They just do these things that normal folks wouldn’t always necessarily do and I think it’s important to recognize people like that because we want to encourage people to model that behavior and keep up the good work,” she said.
Over the years, the Coalition and its advocates have been doing their part to curb the violence. Thomas points out that last year the program served over 14,000 people.
But still more work can be done as around 30 deaths in the past 12 months in West Virginia were reported as domestic violence related.
Thomas said they were surprised with a report released last month that had the Mountain State ranked eighth in the nation in domestic violence related homicides.
“That really brings it home to us,” she said.
For that reason, the Coalition is continuing its fight. Thomas adds they are working on many fronts and one of them is trying to find ways to hold perpetrators more accountable.
“Right now what we tend to do is we tend to focus on what victims need to do and what victims should do, and when we do that we often let perpetrators of domestic violence off the hook because we’re not looking at them and what they’re doing,” she said.
To do that the Coalition is trying to impact policy and work on the states laws to see what can be changed and what can be done better.
And Thomas urges people who know victims of domestic violence to not just idly stand by and not say anything but rather do their part to encourage the victim to do something about it. She said everybody can do their part end domestic violence in the Mountain State.