Court Pilot Program Started For Domestic Violence Victims

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Kanawha County can now access the court system without fear of being in the same room with their assailants.

The pilot program was launched Monday by West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Evan Jenkins.

“It will absolutely save lives,” said Julie Britton Haden, program director of the YWCA Charleston Resolve Family Abuse Program.

Previously, victims of domestic violence had to file petitions for domestic violence protective orders or petitions for personal safety orders in person at magistrate court. Sometimes, respondents try to prevent victims from entering court facilities or follow them to their cars or home after hearings.

Victims can still file initial petitions and attend follow-up hearings at the Kanawha County Judicial Building. But the pilot project gives them the option of going to the REACH (Rape Education, Advocacy, Counseling and Healing) site or to the YWCA Charleston Resolve Family Abuse Program.