This week, Student Anti-Violence Educators (SAVE) has been raising awareness with red flags and multi-colored t-shirts, designed to empower and educate UMW students about dating violence. Shelley Hillberry, the president of SAVE, filled me in on what all the hoopla is about.
What are the goals and objectives of SAVE?
“Our primary goal is prevention, and the purpose is to empower and educate the UMW community to end violence. Our main objective is to raise awareness on the prevalence of dating violence on college campuses, and to increase visibility for campaigns and resources.”
“We are achieving these objectives and goals by providing training opportunities to students interested in becoming peer educators.”
“They have the opportunity to receive a brief or extensive training, depending on how active they would like to be in the organization. It varies from representing SAVE during freshman orientation, giving presentations to residence life, and athletic departments or tabling during campaigns throughout the year.”
I’ve seen the red flags around campus. What is their significance?
“The flags create more buzz because they are purposely displayed without warning or explanation the week before the actual launch of the campaign.”
“Often, you’ll hear students chatting about them as they walk by unaware, but if you look closely each flag has “theredflagcampaign” printed in the lower right corner.”
“While putting the flags on campus, I’ve even been asked if I was “squirrel scouting” (haha) just to reply with, “It’s actually the Red Flag Campaign, say something if you see warning signs of dating violence.”
“It’s a method to increase visibility and to introduce taking an objective look at your environment to become more aware of what’s happening around you.”
If someone is a victim of sexual assault and relationship violence who should they contact?
“First and foremost, if they were just assaulted, they should immediately contact authorities. Whether it’s the UMW or Fredericksburg police, the report will be transferred to the necessary administration. Do not shower, use the bathroom, change your clothes or brush your teeth. Victims have 72 hours to receive a physical evidence recovery kit, or PERK exam, which is provided free of charge from the Mary Washington Hospital Forensic Nurse Unit. The exam is administered only after consent, but it provides evidence in court that can be kept for years if the victim decides to press charges.”
“Victims have a plethora of resources available to them. Counseling, Psychological Services and Judicial Affairs are available year round. While the Health Center and Campus Police have emergency 24-hour contacts, there is also a 24-hour hotline through the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault and Rappahannock Council on Domestic Violence.”
What can you do if you know someone that is a victim of sexual assault or relationship violence, but he or she refuses to acknowledge it?
“Please save your friend from the trouble of experiencing the debilitating side effects of sexual violence. Encourage them to seek help from the latter resources as soon as possible. In the case of college students, this can range from extreme guilt and shame, missing class, increased drinking, sleep deprivation, etc., which can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, lowered GPA, dropping out of college and more.”
“Violence and abuse in relationships usually continues, and often gets worse over time, if no action is taken to stop it. You can help your friend by being honest about your concerns.”
“A victim is more likely to listen to the concerns of their friends when experiencing this type of violence.”
SAVE meets every Thursday in Lee Hall 411 at 5:30 p.m.. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or concerns.”