CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA — October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and officials at the University of Virginia want to make sure every student knows it. The University is covered with attention-getting red flags, and today the University's Women's Center unveiled a series of posters to draw attention to the warning signs of abusive relationships.
The effort is part of the Red Flag Campaign, the first statewide public awareness project to address dating violence on Virginia's college campuses. Created by the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance and funded by the Verizon Foundation, the campaign was launched on ten Virginia campuses last year and has been expanded to a total of 18 Virginia colleges this month.
According to the Red Flag Campaign, one partner is being abused in 21% of all college dating relationships, and women from 16 to 24 experience the highest per capita rate of intimate partner violence.
The posters, which feature young men and women who look like normal students, not supermodels, deal with a number of "red flags" that students should be aware of including emotional abuse, isolation, coercion and excessive jealousy. Three of the posters are geared toward females, and three posters are geared toward male students. In order to heighten interest and create more of a "buzz," the red flags were dropped on the grounds of the University a week ago without warning or explanation, and were followed by the posters.
At today's ceremony launching the campaign at UVA, Claire Kaplan with the University's Women's Center/Sexual and Domestic Violence Services said, "In addition to reaching out to students who may be in abusive relationships, we want to send a message to anyone concerned about a friend in an unhealthy relationship. Friends have a responsibility to watch out for each other. Our message is: when you see a red flag, say something."
The Red Flag Campaign was developed by college students, college personnel and community victim advocates to explore the nature of dating relationships on campus and to identify the hallmarks of healthy relationships versus abusive ones.
John Johnson, director of communications and community relations for Verizon Wireless and a UVA alumnus said, "It's important for young people to know that abuse does not have to be physical to be damaging. Emotional abuse needs to be taken just as seriously and this campaign helps us all identify it. We're very proud to fund this innovative program which is being recognized across the Commonwealth and across the nation."
Johnson also announced two Verizon Wireless HopeLine® grants at today's ceremony. The company provided $5,000 to the University's Women's Center/Sexual and Domestic Violence Services to fund the Men's Leadership Program, a mentoring program that trains male undergraduates to work with boys in middle school to offset the negative social pressures and violent cultural messages that bombard youngsters. Verizon Wireless will also donate $10,000 to the Charlottesville-based domestic violence service provider, Shelter for Help in Emergency (SHE) to help support the construction of a new emergency residential facility.
Verizon Wireless' HopeLine program collects no-longer-used wireless phones to be refurbished, recycled or sold; proceeds are donated to domestic violence advocacy groups or used to purchase wireless phones with airtime for use by victims.
Since 2001, the company has collected more than four million no-longer-used wireless phones at stores around the country and in special collections organized for colleges, businesses, law enforcement agencies and civic groups. Proceeds benefit victims of domestic violence with essential communication tools through the donation of wireless phones and service along with support through financial grants. HopeLine has generated about $4 million in grants and $10 million in in-kind contributions for domestic violence prevention groups nationwide.
The HopeLine program accepts all wireless phone models, batteries and chargers from any carrier. Phones will be accepted for recycling at the University's Newcomb Hall and at the Women's Center. For additional program information, visit www.verizonwireless.com/hopeline.
About The Red Flag Campaign
The purpose of The Red Flag Campaign is to encourage students to speak up when they see red flags for dating violence in their friends' relationships. Supplementing the poster series is The Red Flag Campaign website, www.TheRedFlagCampaign.org, which offers resources for students and campus personnel wanting to learn more about dating violence and how to help. Schools participating in The Red Flag Campaign also receive an extensive Campus Planning Guide on CD, which helps campus planners incorporate The Red Flag Campaign materials into campus programming.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless operates the nation's most reliable wireless voice and data network, serving 62.1 million customers. The largest U.S. wireless company and largest wireless data provider, based on revenues, Verizon Wireless is headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with 67,000 employees nationwide. The company is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at www.verizonwireless.com. To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.