Belmont County Commissioners declare April Sexual Assault Awareness Month

T-L Photos/GAGE VOTA JaQue Galloway, left, and Megan Talkington of Tri-County Help Center hold a proclamation and pose with Belmont County Commissioners Josh Meyer, from left, J.P. Dutton, and Jerry Echeman was they recognize April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The Belmont County Board of Commissioners declared April to be Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the county on Wednesday.

At the commissioners’ meeting on Wednesday morning, the board issued a proclamation regarding Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The proclamation ends by stating:

“Let us join together to advocate for survivors, raise awareness, and work towards a future free from sexual assault.”

Members of the Tri-County Help Center staff were in attendance for the proclamation. Education Coordinator Megan Talkington and Sexual Assault Program Facilitator JaQue Galloway both spoke about April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Tri-County Help Center has offices in Belmont, Harrison and Monroe counties as well as crisis advocates on call 24 hours a day. Along with its sexual assault and domestic violence intervention programs, it also offers parent programs and mental health counseling. Tri-County also has legal advocates in all three counties it operates in. It also has a shelter at an undisclosed location.

“We’re pretty much a one-stop place for victim survivors,” Talkington said while speaking on the plethora of services Tri-County Help Center offers.

“One thing we’re really pushing this month is that survivors of sexual assault are often not coming to me first. They’re going to disclose their trauma to their loved ones, their friends and family, the people in the community. So we want you all to know how to support a survivor in your life,” Galloway said. “If you know four women or seven men, then it’s more likely that someone in your life is a survivor of sexual assault.”

This year to bring attention to April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Tri-County Help Center will be hosting a Self-Defense Workshop at 4 p.m. April 17 in St. Clairsville’s J.B. Martin Recreation Center. The workshop will be taught by Talkington, and she will be teaching some basic self-defense techniques as well as basic safety planning.

It will also be hosting the Harrison County Sexual Assault Awareness Dog Walk on April 27. The dog walk event is a joint effort between the Tri-County Help Center and the Harrison County Dog Pound. The dog walk will also serve as the Harrison County Dog Pound’s Adoption Day. It will have food trucks, guest speakers and a raffle. The event takes place at 11 a.m. at Sally Buffalo Park.

“There are survivors in our community that we are working with that we are walking among,” Galloway said.

While speaking to the staff of Tri-County Help Center, Commissioner Josh Meyer said, “Thank you for all the work that you guys do. It’s not easy work to do when dealing with people going through some really tough stuff. We just want to thank you and say we appreciate you for all the things you do for the community.”

Commissioner J.P. Dutton added, “There is a large community trying to tackle these issues, but you guys are also trying to educate your partners at the same time.”

The meeting ended with Belmont County Board of Commissioners President Jerry Echemann reading the proclamation aloud.


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