U.Va. Women's Center Promotes Awareness of Dating and Domestic Violence

October 22, 2009 — "These Hands are Not for Hurting" – that's what the banner says hanging in the McIntire Amphitheater today. The U.Va. football team made it in honor of Red Flag Week/Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It will be moved to Scott Stadium for the Oct. 24 football game.

Freestanding silhouettes, also on display in the amphitheater, represent individual women, men and children who were murdered or died due to domestic violence. Each figure has a plaque that tells the person's story.

The displays, which will be on Grounds just for the day, are part of the University of Virginia Women's Center's activities to promote awareness of dating and domestic violence. To provide ongoing help, the center also offers self-defense classes, a sexual assault recovery group and training workshops for the Survivor Support Network coming up Oct. 27 and Nov. 20 (details below).

A panel on domestic violence will be held tonight, Oct. 22, from 6 to 8 p.m. in Monroe Hall room 130 with U.Va. students and others telling their personal stories of surviving dating/domestic violence. Discussion with the audience will follow the panel.

On Friday, student volunteers from the Women's Center will have a table set up on the South Lawn and hand out free Red Flag Campaign buttons to the first 1,000 students who stop by.

Red flags and posters have been put up around Grounds for the week, along with fliers in local business windows, to draw attention to the problem. They give messages, such as, "If I want to get some, I just need to get her wasted" and the response, "That's messed up. Are you looking to catch a rape charge?" The posters add, "Sometimes it takes a friend to see that one person is being hurt and the relationship is unhealthy. As friends, we have a responsibility to watch out for each other.

"When you see a red flag, say something," reads the slogan.

According to the Red Flag Campaign, research indicates that in 21 percent of college dating relationships, one of the partners is being abused. That's one in five relationships. The Red Flag Campaign was created by the Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance and is supported by the Verizon Foundation.

The Women's Center's office of Sexual and Domestic Violence Services aims to educate students, staff and faculty at the University about intimate violence and its impact on our community.

The program offers a sexual assault recovery group to give women an opportunity to gather in a safe environment and support one another in the process. The group will meet Tuesdays from 3:30 to 5 p.m., starting Nov. 3. For an intake appointment, call Margaret Edwards at 982-2252. All screening appointments must be made by Oct. 22.

In addition, training workshops for the Survivor Support Network will be held Oct. 27 and Nov. 20 for U.Va. faculty, staff, resident advisers, teaching assistants and graduate students. Those who might have encountered students or co-workers whose academic or work performance has been impacted by a history of victimization learn how to become an ally to survivors of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking and child sexual abuse. The two-and-a-half hour workshop, offered by the Sexual and Domestic Violence Services Program, includes effective strategies to support students and colleagues, as well as information about local resources. The program also provides ongoing support as needed.

Survivor Support Network Training:
Oct. 27, 2:30-5 p.m.
U.Va. Women's Center – snacks and beverages provided

Nov. 20, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Newcomb Hall Commonwealth Room – brown bag lunch with dessert and beverages provided

To make a reservation, e-mail Lisa Speidel, SDVS outreach coordinator, at las7p@virginia.edumdw9r@virginia.edu or Michelle Wagner, SDVS intern, at mdw9r@virginia.edu.