Domestic violence focus
February 2, 2012 ·
A coalition of 14 victim advocacy groups has won widespread legislative support for three more laws protecting people from domestic and sexual violence.
A House subcommittee
is finishing its work on a bill prohibiting human trafficking. Experts say nationally,
up to 300,000 youngsters aged 12 to 14 are lured into prostitution and taken
from state to state. West Virginia
is now one of only two states without such a law.
Another bill prohibiting anyone from trying
to interrupt a 911 emergency call is now under consideration in the
senate. Domestic Violence survivor
Celena Roby, who is now her county’s first female EMT firefighter, came to
speak for the bill.
“We have an
opportunity to let victims know they can call for help. We can make certain that offenders are held
accountable if they so much as take that right from you. Since my years with my
abuser I learned many things. I learned to hold my head up high. I learned that every trial and every scar
makes us who we are. I learned to trust in God. And I learned not to give up. I
will continue to stand and speak so I can help victims obtain the one thing
they want more than anything and that is their freedom,” Roby said to
Roby’s testimony last year concerning her victimization led
to the passage of what’s called “Celena’s Law,” which made it a crime to
unlawfully restrain a spouse or domestic partner. The third bill now moving in
the Senate is co-sponsored by Senate President Jeff Kessler and it permits a
protective order can be issued to protect victims from predators who are not
related or sharing living quarters.
“We’ve come a long
way baby. Truthfully that’s what we’ve done over the past decade or two in
domestic violence law. It may be a
family member, it may be a brother, it may be a concerned co-worker. That may
be the person who gets targeted by the stalker to try to get back at that
person because they’re encouraging the victim to step up and seek protection
and relief,” said Kessler.
The coordinator of the West Virginia Coalition Against
Domestic Violence is pleased so many lawmakers are working with so many groups
on passing the three bills.
actually celebrating the 20th anniversary of the legislature’s first
Domestic Violence Omnibus Act which passed in 1992. So it has progressed over the years. Still,
women are being killed. Children are
being abused. We still have a problem
here that we want to keep moving forward, steps at a time,” she concluded.
All 14 of the groups presented displays in the legislative
hallways highlighting their programs. One of them featured a t-shirt with the slogan, “You can’t beat West