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KY Lawmakers Honored for Protecting Survivors of Violence

Eileen Rektenwald, who heads the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, speaks at The Ending Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Conference in Lexington. (KCADV)
Eileen Rektenwald, who heads the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, speaks at The Ending Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Conference in Lexington. (KCADV)
November 30, 2018

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky advocates for sexual and domestic assault survivors are gathering in Lexington to reflect on their successes of the year, and examine what's needed in the future.

The three-day Ending Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Conference wraps up today with special awards for people who have gone above and beyond to help victims. Executive Director of the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs Eileen Recktenwald says that includes kudos for state Sen. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, and Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville.

"Two legislators are receiving 'Champions for Justice' awards,” says Recktenwald. “They both passed legislation that positively affected the lives of victims of sexual assault and domestic violence."

Adams helped pass new laws that equalize the penalties for all forms of non-consensual acts of sexual penetration, and added protections for young people from potentially dangerous marriages. McGarvey was honored for sponsoring a bill to clarify that a victim of domestic violence is not required to pay the legal fees of the abusive spouse in a divorce when the spouse is incarcerated for crimes against the petitioner.

Today they'll also honor Mason County Judge Executive Joe Pfeffer, Maysville Mayor David Cartmell, and Father Bob Hudson for their work on making Maysville the first 'Green Dot' City in Kentucky.

Rectenwald explains Green Dot is a nationally recognized strategy, where communities train first responders to help prevent personal violence.

"It means that the possibility of raising your child in one of these cities will make them safer. That's just the bottom line of it,” says Recktenwald. “And we hope that other cities will see this and do the same thing."

Social workers, lawyers, judges, prosecutors, medical professionals and other service providers from around the Commonwealth are at the conference. Rectenwald says they're comparing notes on the work they're doing to help survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

"When you're doing crisis work like these advocates are, you tend to get very isolated in your program,” says Recktenwald. “It's 24-7 and you don't get out, you don't know what's going on in the rest of the state. You can share resources – and this is a way you can do it, here at this conference."

She adds some of the topics include meaningful access for under-served populations, ethics and confidentiality, as well as program evaluation. The conference is sponsored by the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - KY