For the sixth year in a row, the Virginia Tech Women’s Center and Sexual Assault and Violence Education by Students, or SAVES, are partners in sponsoring Wear Red Day on Oct. 25 to raise awareness about relationship abuse across campus.
According to SAVES, 21 percent of college relationships contain one partner that is being abused, meaning that one in five relationships can be considered abusive.
That's why the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance started the Red Flag Campaign, a statewide, and now national, program aimed at bringing knowledge of this issue to college campuses.
“The program is geared towards college students because a lot of times things from unhealthy relationships to sexual assaults go unreported,” said SAVES' Documents Manager, Nicole Castellon, a fifth year in aerospace engineering. “We try to prevent and educate, but we are not as aware as we should be.”
The Red Flag Campaign utilizes a “bystander intervention” technique in order to involve victims of abuse and their friends who may be able to help.
“We make an effort to encourage friends to pay attention and notice red flags in their friends relationships and then to talk to their friends if they see them,” said Women’s Center Outreach Coordinator, Jen Underwood.
According to Underwood, these "red flags" represent different types of abuse including physical, verbal, emotional and sexual.
Chair of SAVES and senior classical studies major, Gabriella Greer, had her own red flag experience freshman year when she was stalked. Since then, she has been highly involved in SAVES.
“I am really passionate about this program because I feel that if it was out there and I had seen it, I would have been more willing to get help in the first place,” Greer said.
For Wear Red Day, SAVES asks students to participate by wearing the color red, and also to spread awareness through their “I Believe” photo project.
Today on the Drillfield, SAVES will be placing red flags to represent the signs of an abusive relationship and share the message with students.
“The day is relevant to everyone and sends a message about creating a community that not only denies abusive behavior, but also one where people care about each other enough to reach out and do the positive things,” Underwood said.
By holding more events than ever this year, SAVES and the Women’s Center hope to create a welcoming environment for victims so relationship abuse will be reported more often.
Underwood added that Wear Red Day is great way to start a conversation about what people have, what they want, and what they deserve in a relationship.
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