Alexa Borg, Angelica Felvus and Brad Merrifield

Alexa Borg, legal advocate for Hope Inc., and Angelica Felvus, children’s care manager for Hope Inc., stand with Fairmont Mayor Brad Merrifield after he read a proclamation this week marking October 2019 as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Fairmont.

FAIRMONT — Fairmont City Council and the Marion County Commission did their part this week to promote awareness of domestic violence.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, Fairmont Mayor Brad Merrifield read a proclamation marking October 2019 as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Fairmont.

“We applaud the efforts of the many victim service providers including Hope (Inc.); our Fairmont Police Department; Marion County Prosecutor’s Office; National, State, and community organizations; and private sector supporters for their efforts in promoting awareness about Domestic Violence,” the city’s proclamation states.

Hope Inc. is a a nonprofit agency that “offers shelter and confidential supportive services to victims of sexual assault or domestic violence and their families.”

Alexa Borg, legal advocate for Hope Inc., who accepted the city’s proclamation for the nonprofit Hope Inc., thanked other agencies that play a key role in combatting domestic violence and sexual assault, such as the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office; the Fairmont Police Department and Police Chief Steve Shine, who she said, is always available when needed, and the community.

“It’s a very big crime that a lot of people don’t know about, so we’re hoping to make sure that everyone knows that it’s something that happens. It affects millions of people, and also including children. I think about 90 percent of children are eyewitnesses to the abuse,” Borg said.

“We just want to thank everyone and their involvement and the team for helping these victims come forward and try and hold these people accountable for their actions,” she said.

“Thank you so much for what you do,” Merrifield said.

Meanwhile, the county commission on Wednesday also made a proclamation to mark October 2019 as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The county’s proclamation states that “the problems of Family Abuse and Domestic Violence may be seen among many groups of people and may cross all economic, racial and social barriers.” It notes that Marion County residents “have suffered the effects of Domestic Violence as seen in the work of the Task Force for Domestic Violence.”

According to the commission’s proclamation, the Task Force on Domestic Violence, Hope Inc. and the Community Against Domestic Violence Inc. “supports a program of violence awareness and prevention that focuses on needs of victims and their children, including safe shelter, advocacy and support services.”

Echoing the sentiments of the county, the city noted that “the problems of domestic violence are not confined to any group or groups of people, but crosses all economic, racial, gender, educational, religious, and societal barriers, and are sustained by societal indifference.”

In its proclamation, the city stated that “the crimes of domestic violence violate an individual’s privacy, dignity, security, and humanity due to the systematic use of physical, emotional, sexual, psychological, and economic control and/or abuse.”

Further, the proclamation states that “when a family member is abused, it can have long-term damaging effects on the victim that also leave a mark on family, friends, and the community at large,” and that “victims should have help to find the compassion, comfort, and healing they need, and abusers should be punished to the full extent of the law.”

The city’s proclamation also states that “victims of violence should have access to medical and legal services, counseling, emergency and transitional housing, and other supportive services so that they can safely escape the cycle of abuse.”

It states that “it is important to recognize the compassion and dedication of the individuals who provide services to victims of domestic violence and work to increase public understanding of this significant problem,” and that “important partnerships have been formed among Hope (Inc.), Fairmont Police Department, Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, healthcare providers, and other allied professionals to assist victims of domestic violence through a multi-disciplinary team.”

In its proclamation, the city notes that “we encourage domestic and sexual violence victims and their families to seek assistance from appropriate victims’ services organizations such as Hope (Inc.).” It also states the City of Fairmont dedicates itself “to protecting vulnerable members of our community,” and “the City of Fairmont has a moral obligation to work to prevent domestic violence, address its brutal and destructive effects and make ending domestic violence a local priority.”

Eric Hrin can be reached at 304-367-2549, or ehrin@timeswv.com.

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