On Monday, March 15, Students for Violence Prevention (SVP) hosted the first session of their new Healthy Relationships Support Group. The session was led by Megan Woodfield, a former peer educator for SVP and a current violence prevention programming graduate assistant.
“What inspired the creation of this group was really just seeing how much of a need it was on campus,”
Woodfield said. “Obviously we have our campus victim advocate, we have Students for Violence Prevention that are going out and doing a lot of programming addressing this, but we’ve never done anything that was in-depth breaking down what a healthy relationship is, and a lot of people are coming to college without that knowledge, so this is facilitating the need to really break things down to make (this knowledge) easier to understand and more accessible to people who maybe can’t come to (other) SVP programs.”
Monday’s session consisted of introductions and a set of handouts detailing warning signs for unhealthy and abusive relationships as well as a list of emergency resources such as the national sexual assault and domestic violence hotlines.
Bobbi Jo Lorenz, sophomore in construction management, attended the support group and said what initially drew her to the meeting as well as how attending the group helped her was the opportunity for a learning experience.
“I thought it would be a good way to learn about how to cultivate healthy relationships in my life,” Lorenz said. “Today I learned the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships.”
The largest handout presented to attendees of the support group contained a detailed list of signs for healthy, unhealthy, and abusive relationships which Woodfield called her “green flags,” “orange flags” and “red flags” respectively.
The list of healthy attributes included elements like “talking openly” and “making mutual sexual choices” while some items on the “abusive” list included “isolating the other partner” or “exerting economic control.”
Noah Larson, junior in history, is the current Student Health Services chairman for the Student Government Association said this meeting helped fulfill his desire for support groups like this one across the Pittsburg State University campus.
“I have been advocating to create a support group network,” Larson said. “So, when Stephanie Spitz told me that Megan was putting this group together, I had to join. (I enjoyed) being able to meet everyone, having Megan as a speaker and being able to learn about different people’s perspectives, about how to apply them to my own relationships.”
In addition to commentary on healthy relationships, Woodfield said there are several upcoming events sponsored by SVP.
“(SVP) just got done with their Week of Empowerment last week,” Woodfield said. “…A lot of the upcoming program will take place during April. April is sexual assault awareness month. During then they are going to take part in Tunnel of Oppression, they are going to have a Take Back the Night rally to show support for survivors of violence. They’ve also been talking about doing a virtual survivor walk fundraiser, so a lot of really cool things coming up in April.”
Woodfield plans to host sessions of the support group each Monday for the next several weeks and she plans for the next session to focus on setting boundaries for relationships.