Resources for sexual assault survivors

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WSAZ) -- Marla Willcox Eddy has been with sexual assault survivors as they recount the worst days of their life.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives.

"One of the most difficult things to say are those three words ‘I was raped.’ It's really, really hard for people to say that out loud to anybody and most people don't,” Willcox Eddy said.

It’s a conversation she says many survivors either wait years to have or never do.

That's why she supports those who have come forward in the sexual assault cases against former Marshall University student Joseph Hardin.

He's accused of sexually assaulting two women off campus in the fall of 2018.

Willcox Eddy says that coming forward and speaking with law enforcement is a brave step.

"To report it then is even more difficult because you have to go through every single detail,” she said. “There is a process that can be very frustrating, it takes a long time and that's part of why a lot of people don’t want to report it because it is very involved."

For those in similar situations she suggests first reaching out to someone you trust, or a rape crisis center that you can speak with anonymously to be by your side.

"But working with somebody to help you deal with that and help you to kind of come to terms with the fact that you're doing everything within your power to bring justice,” Willcox Eddy said.

Although she knows that many survivors will try to go home, shower and wake up the next day and pretend like they weren’t sexually assaulted, she encourages everyone to come forward because she has seen the toll trauma can take on survivors.

"Sleeping disorders, sometimes people want to sleep all the time because they escape that incident in their mind and some people can’t sleep at all because they’re afraid to close their eyes,” she said.

But in her 30 years of working with sexual assault survivors, she has seen that healing is possible.

"Hopefully through healing and recovering that in the end what you realize is how strong you really are and that if you get through this you can get through just about anything,” she said.

If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault you can reach out to the REACH Rape Crisis Program at 1-800-656-HOPE.

If you live in Kanawha County you can reach out to REACH at 304-340-3676. The number for REACH in Jackson County, West Virginia is 304-372-8890.

These are 24 hour hotlines where you can speak with a counselor confidentially.

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