POINT PLEASANT — For more than 10 years, people in Mason County who have experienced sexual assault or stalking have been able to find help from a Sexual Assault Victim Advocate working out of CONTACT Rape Crisis Center’s Point Pleasant office.
Brittany Brewer has been providing that emotional and practical assistance, including crisis counseling and support during medical treatment or law enforcement interviews, for the past three years. The Mason County native also coordinates the county’s Sexual Assault Response Team, an inter-agency effort to improve the community’s response to people who have been assaulted.
Last year, Brewer was joined in the office by Michaela Wamsley. Wamsley, also from Mason County, was looking for a career where she could really have a positive impact on people’s lives and found it in victim advocacy.
Starting this month, thanks to a Healthy Communities grant from the Pallottine Foundation of Huntington, Brewer and Wamsley will also be working to prevent sexual violence from occurring in the community in the first place. Children, teens, and adults will be able to learn from evidence-based programs how to have healthy relationships and end the violence of sexual assault, stalking, human trafficking, bullying and cyber harassment. Over the next few months, Wamsley and Brewer will be reaching out to schools, churches, and community organizations with presentations and resources that can help create a safer community.
Brewer told the Register she and other advocates are available 24/7 through the hotline or personal contact numbers. Advocates will assist victims through many processes after the assault has occurred.
“Say they were sexually assaulted and they want to go to the hospital. As an advocate, I can meet them directly. At the hospital, I will sit there with them as they get what we call a ‘rape kit’ done, just for emotional support,” Brewer said. “After that, we link them up with resources.”
Brewer said she can be with the victim while doing interviews at police stations, if needed, work on victim impact statements and compensation funds, assist with finding housing, clothing and even Christmas gifts for their children.
CONTACT has an office on Main Street in Point Pleasant by the Episcopal Church.
Despite the recent pandemic, sexual assault has not stopped. According to the Rape Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), survivors of sexual violence continue to express their fears regarding their safety because of conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Minors experiencing sexual abuse are particularly vulnerable when they are unable to go to school or other safe activities.
Victims deserve to know that they are not alone during this time. CONTACT Rape Crisis Center is continuing to provide services to victims safely throughout the pandemic. An advocate is always on standby, ready to support those in need, at any time.
Now in its 50th year, CONTACT offers free and confidential practical and emotional support to women, men, and children who have been affected by sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking in Mason, Cabell, Wayne, Lincoln, Logan, and Mingo counties.
Advocates can be contacted directly at 304-593-9069 or 304-674-6724, through the 24-Hour Hotline 866-399-7273, on Facebook at CONTACT Crisis Center, or via CONTACT’s website https://www.contacthuntington.com/
This is a difficult time for us all, however, you do not have to go through this alone.
Kayla (Hawthorne) Dunham contributed to this article. Additional information provided by a news release on behalf of CONTACT.