“The Silence Breakers”

By Wendy Holdren
The Register-Herald, Beckley, W.Va.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Patricia Bailey and her staff at the Women’s Resource Center advocate for and support victims, survivors, and witnesses of domestic violence and sexual violence. Bailey looks back on the events of this year and how the #Metoo movement has encouraged women to share their stories.

The Register-Herald, Beckley, W.Va.

As 2017 comes to a close, many people are taking time to reflect on the year’s events.

For Patricia Bailey, executive director of the Women’s Resource Center, perhaps the most significant part of the year culminated with TIME’s declaration of “The Silence Breakers” as the magazine’s Person of the Year.

“I don’t think anybody was expecting it, but given what has happened with the #MeToo movement and (sexual assault and sexual harassment) survivors speaking out, we’ve seen a change on a national level that we’ve not seen before,” Bailey said.

Bailey and her staff at the Women’s Resource Center advocate for and support victims, survivors, and witnesses of domestic violence and sexual violence. At the resource center, affected individuals can receive temporary shelter, counseling, advocacy and supportive services.

For decades, Bailey said many women have remained silent about unwanted sexual encounters.

“They feel guilt. They feel shame. They feel like it’s their fault,” she said. “They fear they won’t be believed or that they’re going to be questioned — what were you wearing? What did you say? What did you do?”

Bailey said victims have been blamed for the crimes of perpetrators for far too long, but she’s encouraged by the change caused by the brave women who spoke out this year.

“I don’t think there’s any going back now. All these women have come forward, and I think it’s going to happen around the country.”

Power dynamics have long impacted a woman’s ability to speak out, she said. For example, if a single mother relying on a job to support herself and her family is assaulted, does she speak out? Does she risk losing her job?

Sometimes, Bailey said, the decision is a difficult one to make.

But with roughly 40 people being accused in the public spotlight, she said the dynamic is shifting.

“All our lives, we’ve always heard one person can make a difference,” Bailey said. “Most of us have heard that so many times we’re immune to it, but one person can make a difference, and one person does make a difference. If you finally have the courage after all these years to speak out and say something and that gives someone else a voice and they’re able to come forward, that’s how this starts.”

Bailey noted that West Virginia has the lowest rate of sexual assault convictions in the nation.

“It’s because they aren’t believed, and they’re crucified for coming forward. We have to change the conversation. We have to start asking the right questions. Let’s start asking why does the perpetrator pray on women. Let’s start going after the perpetrator, hold them accountable, and start believing and supporting the victim.”

Part of the change will come with education and awareness, she said. For those interested in learning more, she suggests resources such as the National Network to End Domestic Violence and the Sexual Violence Resource Center.

For locals, services are also available at the Women’s Resource Center. Public awareness presentations are offered at schools, professional organizations, community organizations, and more.

For more information, call 304-255-2559 or visit

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