Red flags raised on domestic violence
Domestic violence in a relationship can be a haunting act usually unnoticed by many people, which allows room for
more skeletons to sleep inside the closet of a domestically abused victim.
In an effort to clean out those skeletons and observe Domestic Violence Awareness month, the Women’s Resource Center will promote the fight against domestic violence with the Red Flag Campaign.
“Many people are not aware of the ‘red flags’ of dating violence, believing instead that such things are just normal or that (it) is a natural part of a woman’s life,” Beverly McPhail, director of UH’s Women’s Resource Center (WRC), said in an e-mail.
Starting today, the campaign will post mysterious red flags around the UH campus.
Posters describing ‘red flag’ behaviors, with a neighboring white flag to indicate how a domestic abuse victim can find help, will also be posted.
A major emphasis of the campaign will be to show that domestic abuse is more than just a physical act.
“Many times, when people think of domestic violence or dating relationship violence, they think of physical violence,” McPhail said. “However, domestic violence also includes sexual, emotional and economic abuse.
“We want to educate the campus community about dating violence, and build a culture on campus where such violence and behavior is not tolerated.”
UH’s Counseling and Psychological Services, one of the groups taking part in the campaign, will be around to discuss counseling services for students in need.
“Through the counseling process, therapists can help individuals by validating their experiences and help them understand what healthy relationships look like,” CAPS Assessment Fellow Courtney Chambless said in an e-mail.
Victims feel as if they cannot leave their partners because they begin to believe that they deserved the abuse, Chambless said, and therefore, have negative self-evaluations of their selves.
“Therapists recognize that leaving an abusive partner is not easy and that there are many factors that can keep an individual in a relationship,” Chambless said.
These factors can range from money, children, stability or self-esteem as well as many others.
“Therapists can assist clients in brainstorming solutions to these problems and developing a crisis safety plan,” Chambless said.
For many universities, having a counseling and resource center helps more victims find the comfort that they have been searching for.
“CAPS offer a place for abuse victims to explore the effects of domestic violence without the fear of judgment or abandonment,” Chambless said.
Since domestic violence also affects men, CAPS offers couples counseling in which therapists will help the couples come up with better communication strategies.
“The important part about the counseling process is to facilitate insight into how each couples words and actions affect their partner and then assist them in developing new strategies so that each member gets their needs met without hurting or infringing on the rights of the other person,” Chambless said.
Despite being a resource center for women, McPhail says that the WRC is open to men seeking information as well.
The Red Flag Campaign will also ask sororities and fraternities to lead smaller group discussions about what are considered to be healthy and unhealthy relationships during the last two weeks of October.
McPhail hopes the discussions continue after the campaign ends.
“Many men and women may not even know that violence is unacceptable in relationships,” McPhail said. “Since dating violence is an issue year-round, we hope the discussion continues throughout the semester and into next semester.”