GRAFTON— Rape and Domestic Violence are two issues that often no one wants to discuss, however one local organization is reaching out to let individuals know that they are not alone in their situations.
Maggie VonDolteren Domestic Violence Specialist and Advocate Dianna Hoag-McMillen would like to let the community know about the services offered at the Rape and Domestic Violence Information Center (RDVIC).
“RDVIC provides a community-based service that promotes the rights of all individuals to have control of their lives without violence,” explained McMillen.
“We are a non-profit agency serving individuals in West Virginia. We provide services to men, women and children who are currently experiencing or who are survivors of domestic violence, child abuse, incest, sexual assault, elder care abuse, care giver abuse, sexual harassment or stalking,” stated VonDolteren.
According to RDVIC.org, Rape Information Services (RIS) was organized in 1973 and chartered in 1974 by a group of citizens concerned about the problem of sexual assault. At that time, they began offering services to victims of sexual assault and doing educational programs to make the community aware of the problem.
The community education program was also expanded to include domestic violence, and in 1978 the name of the agency was changed to Rape and Domestic Violence Information Center, to let people know that assistance was now available for victims of both sexual assault and domestic violence.
RDVIC currently serves Monongalia, Preston, and Taylor counties with a wide range of services including emergency shelter, a 24-hour crisis hotline, group and individual counseling, medical, legal, personal, and child advocacy, referrals, a volunteer program and community education.
VonDolteren shared that they work closely with many local, statewide, national groups and organizations.
Some of the services they provide include emergency shelter, counseling, support groups, advocacy, community education and volunteer opportunities. The services are confidential and free of charge.
VonDolteren explained that the staff and volunteers at the RDVIC work year around to promote domestic violence prevention, offering educational services that can make spotting the warning signs of violence a bit easier.
According to VonDolteren, the RDVIC provides emergency shelter, counseling, support groups, advocacy, community education and volunteer opportunities. She reported that the services are confidential and free of charge.
In addition, the RDVIC also offers information on creating a safety plan, which encourages individuals to practice different ways to safely exit their home and provides tips for preparing to leave an abusive situation.
“We also work with the police and the court system to try to come up with a plan to make sure victims are safe,” she commented. “We want to make sure we are empowering instead of enabling.”
She disclosed that many people may not know that these services are available to them and the RDVIC wants the community to know that they are here to help and listen.
To help get the word out about the services, VonDolteren shared that they have teamed up with the Taylor County Arts Council and are working on exhibits.
In addition, the RDVIC has teamed up with various organizations in the county to work on the “What were you Wearing Project” for April 2019.
She also shared that the RDVIC offers a Prevention Education program that can help schools teach young adults about healthy relationships.
Programs can be tailored to the needs of the school requesting a presentation. The agency provides programs that define domestic violence, address signs and symptoms, look at offender behavior and direct students to the appropriate resources.
The program benefits children in many ways including making schools a safe and supporting environment and improving children’s social, behavior and academic success.
At the end of the presentation, students will receive handouts that address the information shared during the class and contact information if they or someone they know needs help.
For more information about the prevention education program please at 304-265-6534, or find the RDVIC on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RDVIC.org or visit their website www.rdvic.org.
Those who are or have been victims of domestic violence are encouraged to reach out, by calling the RDVIC’s 24-hotline at 304-265-6534.