W.Va. Foundation for Rape Information Service is bringing awareness to sexual violence issues

Harrison

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – The West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information Services held its annual Sexual Violence Awareness Day on Thursday.

In West Virginia, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 21 men will be victims of an attempted or completed sexual assault in their lifetimes.

Senator Ryan Weld joined WVFRIS to bring attention to sexual violence issues in West Virginia and the need for sustained services and support for victims.

They also spoke about several major legislative bills they are introducing to the senate.

Bill 484 is being introduced to change the definition for stalking to be more in line with the federal statute when involved in sexual assault cases.

Bill 495, which Senator Wolford drafted, is looking at the issue of sexual extortions. The current code on sexual extortion only includes the issue of force, manipulation, or age. The group is looking to expand it to include those in power using their authority to coerce someone into sexual interaction.

“We see that with people misusing their authority, and its always a few people in different types of potions,” Nancy Hoffman, State Coordinator at FRIS, said. “We need to have an outlet for victims who are coerced into sexual activity that they truly don’t want to engage in, but they feel they have no choice. so that is a major bill for us in session.”

The state currently only has a bill covering sexual coercion in terms of someone in a correctional facility, but the group is looking to include all law enforcement and judiciary authority.

Other bills include Bill 434 which looks to require law enforcement training for interviewing sexual assault victims, and Bill 476, which looks to train hospitals on conducting forensic exams on victims.

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