MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - South Carolina ranks first in the nation for murders caused by domestic violence according to the South Carolina Attorney General. One local university is working to make a change by educating the community and by raising awareness.
Coastal Carolina University is hosting their third annual Red Flag Week. The point is to spread awareness for the many types of dating abuse with the message "If you see something, say something." About 30 CCU students have helped organize the event with university staff.
The campaign focuses on the relationships of young adults, and it kicks off with posters hung around campus with examples of some of the most common types of abuse—whether it's emotional or physical. Other students participate by signing red flags with messages of support to those who've suffered from abuse. The flags are then placed at Prince Lawn. The red flags symbolize the "red flags" of dating and the need for change in South Carolina when it comes to domestic violence.
Chris Donevant-Haines is the assistant director of CCU counseling, and one of the heads of Red Flag Week.
"It makes a very dramatic-looking display, it gets a lot of attention, and many times when we're doing this event, people come over - well what are you doing and can I join in because this is a topic many people are passionate about," Donevant-Haines said.
According to the Attorney General's office, 39 South Carolinians were murdered in 2014 by their partner. In 2013, 46 people were killed. Most of the victims were out of college, but abusive habits can form at a young age.
"Knowing that South Carolina has rather high statistics when it comes to death from domestic and dating violence - this is very important to our region…this topic, in our opinion, is what people should be talking about with their children…you know, how to treat other people with respect," Donevant-Haines said.
This year's Red Flag week comes at a timely manner because in the last month, three CCU students were arrested for assault crimes against women.
A student volunteer with the Red Flag program says don't forget about emotional abuse. She thinks texting and social media have made a big impact on the growing numbers of abusive relationships.