U.Va., Verizon Wireless Team to Sponsor 'Red Flag Campaign' Against Domestic Violence

What:     Press conference on statewide Red Flag Campaign to raise student awareness about dating violence

When:     Oct. 10, 11 a.m.

Where:     University of Virginia's Peabody Hall

Oct. 8, 2007 -- October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and officials at the University of Virginia want to make sure every student associates it with the message, “When you see a red flag, say something.”

The meaning of the mysterious red flags that are being scattered around the Grounds will be revealed at an Oct. 10 press conference at 11 a.m. in Peabody Hall, explaining the Red Flag Campaign, sponsored locally by the U.Va. Women’s Center. A series of posters using the red flags will be unveiled that draw attention to the warning signals of an abusive relationship.

The Red Flag Campaign is 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 last year on 10 Virginia campuses, including U.Va., and has been expanded to eight more colleges this month. 

According to the Red Flag Campaign, in 21 percent of college dating relationships, one of the partners is being abused. Additionally, women between the ages 16 and 24 experience the highest per capita rate of intimate partner violence. 

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. The posters, which feature young men and women who look like normal students, not supermodels, illustrate 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. To heighten interest about the campaign, the red flags were dropped on Grounds a week ago without warning or explanation.

“In addition to reaching out to students who may be in abusive relationships, we want to send a message to anyone who is concerned about a friend in an unhealthy relationship,” said Claire Kaplan, director of U.Va.’s Sexual and Domestic Violence Services. “Friends have a responsibility to watch out for each other. Our message is: when you see a red flag, say something.”

John Johnson, director of corporate communications for Verizon Wireless, said, “We’re very proud to have provided the funding for this innovative program, which is being recognized not only across the commonwealth but across the nation. It’s important for young people to know that abuse is not always physical and that the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship include a number of emotional red flags, such as coercion and isolation, that need to be taken just as seriously.” 

During the press conference, Johnson also will announce two local grants. Verizon Wireless will give $5,000 to the U.Va. Women’s Center’s 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 in an effort to develop boys' leadership among their peers in resisting the negative social pressures and violent cultural messages with which youngsters are bombarded. In addition, the company is donating $10,000 to the Charlottesville-based domestic violence service provider, Shelter for Help in Emergency, to support the construction of a new emergency residential facility.

Funding for the grants comes from the Verizon Wireless HopeLine program, which 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 the program began, close to $4 million has been donated to domestic violence prevention groups across the United States. 

Verizon Wireless’ HopeLine program accepts all wireless phone models, batteries and chargers from any carrier. At U.Va., phones are accepted for recycling at Newcomb Hall and at the Women’s Center.

Additional resources: www.theredflagcampaign.org; www.verizonwireless.com/hopeline.