Community Success Stories Advocate in Time of Need

“LM experienced many difficulties in her journey to healing and SAHC was there each step of the way. LM was sexually assaulted by a former romantic partner of hers during a college party. Her friends, upon hearing the news, immediately took her to the hospital to have a sexual assault forensic exam done. Unfortunately, the first two hospitals in the area she went to did not have a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE), nurses who have received specialized training to complete these types of exams. Upon her trip to the third hospital, she was finally able to see a SANE, at which time SAHC was contacted to provide hospital advocacy for LM. At this point, she’d been seeking medical attention for several hours and was exhausted with the process. SAHC was able to provide on-site crisis intervention service, in addition to referrals for follow-up care.

After the SAHC advocate reviewed all options with her, LM elected to press charges against her perpetrator and began the lengthy investigation process with law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office. Additionally, because she feared for her safety, LM decided to seek a restraining order to protect herself during the adjudicatory process and beyond. The existing judge that oversees this process was planning to retire and therefore his docket was well booked up at the time that LM sought this restraining order. She was compelled to appear to argue her case several times and face her perpetrator in the waiting room, only to find that the judge needed to push back the hearing each time. After this happened on six separate occasions, she began to lose hope in the judicial process. The SAHC advocate was able to refer LM to Legal Aid of West Virginia to obtain a lawyer to represent her through this process to allow for more complete advocacy on all fronts.

The SAHC advocate remained with her through this four month long process, during which time she only had an emergency restraining order, not one that was permanent. Supportive counseling and advocacy was provided through the entirety of the process, including discussions with her school and employer to seek arrangements to get counseling for her with SAHC’s contractual therapist without her being penalized for missing days. Finally, four months after her assault, she was ultimately granted a permanent restraining order and did not again have to appear in court or face her perpetrator each time she was called to reappear.

She will still face challenges in the future as she goes through the prosecutorial process, but she remains hopeful with the help of SAHC and the many resources provided to her in our community.”

– Sexual Assault Help Center