If you’ve visited Downtown Wheeling this week, then you might have spotted a few mannequins that were artfully embellished and placed in conspicuous places like the Public Market and The Wheeling Artisan Center. Where did these mannequins come from? As it turns out, these life-size figures were created to raise awareness for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
Since 1981, The Federal Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) has led communities throughout the country in their annual observances of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week by raising awareness of victims’ rights and honoring crime victims and those who advocate on their behalf.
According to a report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2021, there were more than 4.6 million violent victimizations and 11.7 million property crimes, the latest year for which such information is available.
This year’s theme for NCVR week is “Survivor Voices: Elevate. Engage. Effect Change.” Here in Wheeling, the YWCA Wheeling and art students from West Liberty University teamed up to create a thought-provoking art installation that can be viewed at several locations throughout Ohio, Marshall and Wetzel counties. Students were each given a mannequin and a specific theme to incorporate into their design. The goal of this project was to help build empathy and awareness about domestic violence, substance use disorder, hate crimes and human trafficking.
“It is crucial in our line of work to be able to hear and believe the victims we are charged with helping,” said Lori Jones, Executive Director of the YWCA Wheeling. “It is so important that the victim know they have a safe space to tell their story and know they are being believed. It’s important for their healing and to have support at every step of the criminal justice process and beyond.”
West Liberty University art students were eager to be a part of a project that would bring awareness and foster conversation around topics that are often hushed. Participating students include Aley Panepucci, Jamie Daugherty. Haley McClain, Josie Carmichael, Jaxxie Marcum, Makenna Klarr, Angelica Rogers, Katie Zoellers, Lilianna Hardt, Sierra Stevens, Erin Yakesh, and Manuela Hoffman.
West Liberty University Creative Arts Therapy Instructor, Terri Giller is especially proud to be a part of this awareness project. “As an art therapist, who has worked with individuals that have experienced or who were recovering from crimes such as domestic violence, substance use disorders, human trafficking, and hate crimes, I am so grateful for this opportunity for WLU Studio Art and Creative Arts Therapy majors to participate in this project. Art has the ability to help the public understand the impact of violent crimes and the victims of crime as more than just a statistic. The visual representations can allow the viewer to see the impact of crime on victims in a whole new way or gain a deeper understanding of the experiences of others.”
The mannequins will remain on display through the end of this week at the following locations:
- Public Market, 1402 Main Street, Wheeling
- Wheeling Heritage , 1400 Main Street, Wheeling
- WesBanco Arena, 2 14th Street, Wheeling
- Mugshots, 1109 Main Steet, Wheeling
- PJ Varsity Pizza, 2203 Ohio Street, Moundsville
- Four Seasons Pool, 300 Mulberry Avenue, Moundsville
- Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex, 801 Jefferson Avenue, Moundsville
- DiCarlos Pizza, 1720 Wheeling Avenue, Glen Dale
- WVNCC, Main Street, New Martinsville
- Magistrate Building, 257 Main Street (third floor), New Martinsville
For additional information about this year’s National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and how to assist crime victims, please contact the YWCA Wheeling at 304-232-0511 or visit ywcawheeling.org.
For more information about how to support all victims of crime, visit OVC’s website at ovc.ojp.gov.