Hospitals provide rape victims with items many take for granted

Local News

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — Inside the doors of CAMC Women’s & Children’s hospital in Charleston, and hospitals across the country, you will discover a rarely discussed aspect of rape… women’s underwear.

To the average person, underwear is something you really don’t think about – but to a rape victim, underwear can be everything.

When a rape victim is brought to an emergency room, their clothing is taken away because it could contain DNA evidence.

According to the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services, 1 in 6 adult women will be the victim of an attempted or completed forcible rape in their lifetime.

Marla Willcox Eddy is the director of the REACH crisis program in West Virginia, which is one of the first resources that rape victims are put in contact with at the hospital. She says that clothing is vital to the recovery process.

The purpose of it is to basically restore some of their dignity, and that kind of thing that’s been taken with the sexual assault. And then to have sort of a double dose to that humiliation by not having any clothes to take home. They would have to wear scrubs or something like that. So this makes them feel a little more put together when they leave.” 

Marla Willcox Eddy, Director of REACH crisis program in West Virginia.

And that’s why many hospitals have to have underwear, bras, and even regular clothing on hand. Most of these items are paid by grants through the state.

Because it’s a long walk down the hall – out of the hospital – and back into the world.

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