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30th Anniversary Celebrates Progress Against Domestic Violence

October 13, 2011

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence is celebrating its 30th anniversary this week and looking back on how things have changed over the last three decades. Roger Lockridge went from being a domestic violence victim as a child to being a volunteer victims' advocate. When he was 10, he says, his father threatened the entire family with a shotgun.

"My mother called 911, and at first the dispatcher said, 'Ma'am, I'm sorry - we don't handle domestic affairs.' My mother in a very calm voice said, 'Well, in that case, I'm going to die, so could you please send someone out to pick up my children.'"

Fortunately, policies have changed since then, Lockridge says.

"Twenty years later, an officer is going to be there pretty quick. Here in Greenbrier County, there is a specific domestic violence officer. That is his main priority job: to respond to domestic calls."

The director of the Rape and Domestic Violence Information Center in Morgantown has been working in the field 32 years. Judy King says in that time opinions have changed, although she says people still make important mistakes.

"They don't understand some of the basic things, like why women don't just pick up and leave, or because a man presents himself one way in public, he doesn't really abuse in private. But in general, public opinion and awareness has really improved."

King says the text of West Virginia's law and the way the legal system in the state handles cases are better than in most states, but she adds that much more progress is possible.

"Most battered women don't want their marriages to end; they want the abuse to stop. If we can teach men of all ages to not be abusive, to think about their behavior, we can really make a big change. It's all about peace in the family."

The Coalition will celebrate its 30th anniversary on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in the Culture Center at the state Capitol complex.

The national domestic violence hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV