Latest News

Walking with survivors

Awareness is a key factor in the fight against sexual assault and domestic violence and that is what the Rape and Domestic Violence Information Center’s (RDVIC) annual Walking with Survivor’s event brings to Morgantown and the surrounding areas. 

The first agency of its kind in West Virginia, RDVIC has been advocating for victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence in Monongalia, Preston and Taylor counties since 1973. 

It accomplishes its mission “to provide a community-based comprehensive service that advocates for the equal rights of all individuals to have control of their lives without violence or threat of violence,” by providing free and confidential emergency shelter, counseling, support groups, advocacy, community education and volunteer opportunities. 

This year’s Walking with Survivor’s event, held Saturday at the Morgantown Farmer’s Market pavilion on Spruce Street, gave the community the opportunity to learn more about the work being done by RDVIC and all of its community partners. The event also serves as RDVIC’s largest annual fundraiser. 

Virginia Hopkins, RDVIC co-founder and board member, said she were pleased with this year’s turnout. 

“This is so supportive,” Hopkins said. “And to have all our community partners here that really makes quite a difference to us and it shows how important this agency is to the community.” 

Keynote speaker Kenyatta Coleman-Grant, Shoulder-to-Shoulder co-director at the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said that education and awareness is crucial to being part of the solution. 

“According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four women and one in 26 men have experienced rape or attempted rape and the numbers in marginalized communities are much, much higher,” she said. 

She challenged the crowd to ask themselves why they were there and how they would continue to show up outside of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, in May, June, July and throughout the rest of the year. 

“Today we’re all here, standing together, shoulder-to-shoulder, committed to making a difference and supporting an organization that empathizes survivors’ and victims’ voices every single day,” said Coleman-Grant. 

Participants began their awareness walk at 4 p.m. with a kickoff shot from the rifle of 2024 Mountaineer mascot Braden Adkins, who then led the group on a mile-long circle up Spruce Street, down High Street and back up Spruce Street to the pavilion. 

Hopkins said over the years she has seen a lot of positive changes come from RDVIC’s work with survivors and victims as well as educational efforts in the community. 

“I can’t imagine that sexual assault, domestic violence, sexual abuse, things like that will ever end, but I can see a difference that has been made by this agency,” she said. “It has gone from trying at least to get some prosecution and law enforcement to handle things, and now that is something that they do.  

“They’re very aggressive and very intentional about recognizing this is a crime and they won’t put up with it.  So that has changed and that’s really positive and we have better laws now and that’s very positive.”   

Over the years, RDVIC has done a lot of education for people to recognize that domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment and other acts of that nature are not acceptable and will not be accepted, but the problem is far from solved.  

“I believe we have changed many people, but certainly the problem has not gone away,” Hopkins said. “We’re able to reach more people and it’s no longer seen as something totally accepted.  I wish we could say we could solve the problem and it will never come back, but I think it’s something we need to constantly be diligent and keep working.”  

Hopkins said the community can really make a difference by recognizing the way they react to someone who’s been abused and encouraging them to recognize it wasn’t their fault and they need to take the proper steps.  

“Hopefully they will call the agency who is willing to walk them through those steps,” Hopkins said. “Things like that, I think, make a difference and it’s a battle we’ll have to fight for a long time, but we are certainly ready for the fight. 

RDVIC is currently fundraising to build a new shelter to replace the current one, an old house purchased in the early 1980s that has fallen into disrepair. 

“We’ve certainly taken good care of it,” Hopkins said, “but it needs a lot of repairs, and it really needs replaced, so anyone who’d like to support the agency by donations, they would certainly be welcome.” 

If you or someone you know needs help with a domestic or sexual violence situation, call RDVIC’s 24-hour hotline at 304-292-5100. For more information and to donate to RDVIC, visit