CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – There’s a new program in Kanawha County Family Court. It protects domestic violence victims so they don’t have to face their abusers in person.
“One of the first domestic violence proceedings that I had in this courtroom involved a young lady who was absolutely terrified, it was written all over her face. You could see she was shaking as she sat there. Any time the respondent spoke, she just kept her head down and coward at anything he absolutely said,” said Kanawha County Family Court Judge Brittany Stonestreet.
It’s a situation Judge Stonestreet has seen far too often – domestic violence victims facing their abusers in court and struggling to testify. “While that certainly demonstrated her fear, it became a little bit problematic in terms of having her tell me, ‘why are you here today?’ I mean I have to hear the allegations, hear the evidence and she was absolutely terrified to testify,” she said.
Now, a new remote outreach project is hoping to help with this. Under the YWCA Resolve Family Abuse Program, victims can testify remotely. The program is already being implemented in Cabell and Ohio counties, with a goal of having it in all of West Virginia’s 55 counties.
“Ten months, and 10,000 domestic violence and personal safety protective borders filed in West Virginia,” said Chief Justice Evan Jenkins, with West Virginia Supreme Court. Jenkins was referring to January 1st, to October 1st of this this year.
The YWCA in Charleston says they hope this new program will help victims stand up to their abusers. “We do see so many folks who apply for a domestic violence petition and then have the realization that they have to come back and sit in the same room as their abuser and they do not follow up at all,” said Julie Britton-Haden, the director of the family resolve program.
With an end goal of saving lives: “For people who don’t or cant come and sit in the same room as their abuser I mean it absolutely will save lives,” added Britton-Haden.
The YWCA Resolve 24/7 Hotline is 304-340-3549.