Avila University Raises Awareness of Dating/Domestic Violence
Statistics show that nationally, more than half of all college students (57%) say that it’s difficult to identify dating abuse. Avila University is raising awareness through a “Red Flag” campaign as one of the events for National Dating/Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). Scattered on the lawn in front of the campus dining hall are red surveying flags with handwritten “red flag” statements that are typical warning signs of sexual assault, dating violence or stalking.
Sara Eckinger is the Coordinator of Avila’s Eagles Aware program and Confidential Victim Services at Avila University. “Too often we identify unhealthy behaviors as something normal that happens in all relationships, instead of identifying it for what it is – abusive,” said Eckinger. “Jealousy is not love, controlling is not love, putting someone down is not love, isolation is not love.”
The Red Flag campaign uses the “bystander intervention” strategy to address and prevent sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking on college campuses. The campaign encourages friends and other campus community members to say something when they see warning signs.
The red flag metaphor serves as a visual tool to help educate the campus community on behaviors that are concerning and be considered “red flags” or abusive. The campaign also provides tangible skills and tools to employ when individuals see problematic behavior in other people’s relationships or even their own.
National research shows that 25% of women and 17% of men will experience some form of dating violence and abuse within their lifetime. October marks the 30th anniversary of DVAM and focuses on three key themes: mourning those who have died because of domestic violence, celebrating those who have survived, and connecting those who work to end violence.
Avila University is firmly committed to providing a safe and supportive environment for students and employees. In addition to the Red Flag campaign, Eagles Aware is involving local community partners and other campus organizations in a number of activities and events on the Avila campus. These events are meant to raise awareness, commemorate those who have been impacted by dating/domestic violence and to call for an end to interpersonal violence.
“Combating dating and domestic violence on campus takes more than one department, office, club, team, administrator, professor, staff member, or student. It takes all of us, working together in big and small ways,” Eckinger said.
Eagles Aware hopes to inspire the entire campus to take a stand by participating in one or more events to create a culture that interpersonal violence is not okay.