Citizen's Spotlight: Erin Beck - Women's Advocate

Name:  Erin Beck

Age :   25   

Family:  Cynthia Spaulding, Harrisville, WV-mother; Richard Beck, West Union, WV –father; one sister and three brothers

Hobbies:  Reading, political advocacy, & going to concerts

What qualities of your mother/father influenced you the most? My mother is very empathetic and has always reminded me that people do the best they can. We never know what circumstances have brought someone to their current situation.  My father is always willing to lend a helping hand. This has helped me to remember how important it is to serve others.

What is the best piece of advice you ever got? Do what makes you happy. – My dad, in reference to choosing a career.

Occupation: Prevention Education Specialist, HOPE, Inc.

What does your organization do and what area does it cover?  HOPE, Inc. is a nonprofit United Way agency which provides confidential services to victims of sexual assault, stalking and domestic violence. We provide shelter, a 24 hour hotline, professional counseling, advocacy, support and educational programs. We have offices in Harrison, Marion, Doddridge, Lewis and Gilmer counties.

What is the most difficult part of being in your field? The most difficult part of my job is seeing our clients’ stories unfold in ways we hope they won’t. Sometimes victims of domestic violence try to leave multiple times before they finally break free. Sometimes the criminal justice system is not always kind to victims of sexual assault. But experiencing the difficult parts of my job is worth it because I know how much our help does mean to victims, and I also know that often times we don’t even realize how our help will affect clients in the future.

What types of calls/incidents do you see increasing around here the most? We are seeing an increase in the use of technology to abuse, harass and stalk victims. Advanced tracking techniques make it much easier for perpetrators to keep tabs on their victims.

What is the biggest risk you see facing women today? The biggest threat to women today is gender-based violence. Acid attacks, meant to maim and disfigure women, occur all over the world. Approximately 5,000 women and girls are murdered each year in so-called “honor killings,” usually by male members of their families. More than 100 million women and girls worldwide have been subjected to female genital mutilation. And here in the United States, 1 in 3 women will be a victim of physical violence, rape or stalking by a current or former intimate partner.

What advice would you give? I ask young people to decide what kind of dating partner they want to be now, and to be that person when they enter a dating relationship. I also advise them to determine what kind of dating partner they want now, and to accept nothing less.

What would you ask for from our readers?  If someone discloses sexual assault to you, believe them.  If you hear others spreading myths about gender-based violence, stand up to them.  And if you ever witness violence against a woman, or think you might be about to, do your best to intervene, or if it’s not safe, call for help.