STORY BY DANIEL SAENZ
PHOTOS BY LARAMIE MOYER
Trigger Warning: this story contains content related to physical, emotional, and sexual assault.
“You know, I think that there aren’t more men here because there is a social stigma against them coming to these kinds of events since people tend to view this as just a women’s issue.”
Hearing this statement from a spectator before anything had started at Tuesday’s Red Flag Campaign March set the tone for the rest of the event. The Red Flag Campaign on campus is a civil/human rights organization that aims to raise awareness about domestic and sexual violence in relationships on college campuses. The “red flags” refer to specific signals that something is going horribly wrong in a relationship to the point where signs of abuse are painfully present. To drive this point home, the organizers of the Red Flag March had attendees walk around the Quad to look at the various quotes on flyers that showcased examples.
“He always wants to know where I am going, who I’m with, and always tries to keep me from spending time with my family,” reads one of the various pictures. This showcases the view of someone who is experiencing one of the various aspects of abuse in a relationship: isolation.
There was also another quote that addressed the issue of verbal abuse. “He always tries to make me feel like I’m fat and stupid and that what I want does not matter.”
However, the signs went beyond simply giving testimony from the victims and even went on to quote perpetrators themselves to showcase how abusers often delude themselves into thinking what they were doing is normal.
“I didn’t mean to put her down in front of her friends, but she just would not shut up,” read one of the signs. This was to showcase an all too common trope: victim blaming.
This trope would later rear its ugly head again once attendees sat down for presentations by guest speakers about their journey with abuse. One of the speakers spoke about how her partner had abused her for over nine years. She also went on to talk about how in our modern society we tend to blame the victim for not coming forward soon enough.
“For nine years, I was beaten, bitten, sexually assaulted, and it took me nine years to finally escape that situation. Is it wrong for me to have waited for so long? Of course not. When you are in that terrified state of mind, you have no idea how to get out.”
Immediately following this speech, another speaker gave a testimony about her history with the abuse.
“I had been stalked, raped, and even had a child as the product of this rape. What is even worse is that the man that did this to me still walks free.”
To be frank, the room really took on a morbid aura after she said this. Her testimony, along with various other events in the news, seems to showcase how the legal system often fails victims which makes them afraid to approach anyone for help. However, it is not all doom and gloom as the Red Flag Campaign wants to create an environment where victims can feel safe asking for help.
President Mason summed up just how important this is. “Imagine a room that is two times or three times this size. To help this campaign to really take off, go out and tell all of your peers about this.”
Only then will this campaign be successful.