May 28, 2024

Meigs Health Today: Victims and survivors

by guest columnist, Jennifer Seifert, Executive Director, Survivor Advocacy Outreach Program.

The Meigs County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (MCPAO), Survivor Advocacy Outreach Program (SAOP), and Square One are dedicated to supporting victims/survivors of violence in Meigs County. No one expects to be a victim/survivor of violence- so when it happens, most victims/survivors don’t understand their options or how to help their loved ones impacted by violence.

Because of this, MCPAO, SAOP, and Square One provide advocacy services to victims-survivors and co-survivors (i.e., the survivor’s loved ones) to understand their options, navigate the criminal justice system, and access the resources necessary to be safe and heal. A helpful metaphor to understand the role of advocates is to think of them as GPS for victims/survivors. When using GPS to navigate to a new location, one searches for and selects the desired destination, and the GPS provides instructions on how to get to the location while avoiding potential hazards (e.g., traffic jams or construction). Advocates serve a similar function, but instead of providing driving directions, they help co/victim-survivors understand and navigate the criminal justice and social service systems.

While each organization provides advocacy services, each agency focuses on providing different types of services. Meigs County Prosecuting attorney provides advocacy and accompaniment services to all victims of crime once charges are filed in addition to civil protection orders. The Survivor Advocacy Outreach Program provides confidential advocacy and crisis intervention services for survivors of sexual violence, domestic violence, human trafficking, and stalking.

Services include a 24/7 helpline in addition to mobile community-based advocacy services. Services are provided regardless of when the abuse occurred or if the abuse was reported to law enforcement. Square One provides emergency shelter services to Meigs County residents. Currently, those services are provided at their shelter in Gallipolis, but Square One is working hard to open a new shelter in Middleport.

For most, being a victim/survivor of violence is one of the most confusing, scary, and stressful situations of their lives. No one should have to go through this time alone or without understanding their rights and options.

Anyone who wants to know more can call the Meigs County Prosecutor’s office (740-992-1720) Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. or Square One (740-441-5809) anytime day or night at or SAOP’s helpline at 740-591-4266 anytime day or night.