By Kristina Zagame
With Valentines Day in the middle of February, it is often seen as a couples month. But unfortunately, not all couples experience safe and healthy relationships.
Marguerite O'Brien is the director of USC's Wellness, Prevention and Advocacy Services at the Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention and Prevention (SAVIP) office. She says their office sees roughly a hundred cases each year. Of those cases, she says about 50 percent have to do with dating or interpersonal violence.
"That could be emotional abuse, physical abuse, or threats of some sort within that relationship," says O'Brien.
Domestic violence awareness is especially important in South Carolina. The Violence Policy Center reports the state is ranked worst in the nation for deadly violence against women.
Alpha Chi Omega is hosting "Healthy Relationships Week" at USC to raise more awareness to the issue. Starting this past Monday, February 8, Alpha Chi Omega has been hosting daily events on campus to promote domestic violence and sexual abuse awareness. All of the proceeds from their events go to Sister Care, a non-profit based in Columbia that provides services and advocacy for survivors of domestic violence and their children.
Alpha Chi Omega's Sara Grace Matthews says spreading recognition for relationship violence has always been important to her.
Matthews says Alpha Chi Omega sisters work with relationship abuse victims in Columbia. She says hearing survival stories from abuse victims is inspiring.
"It's something that people don't really talk about and we're really trying to make it more known," says Matthews.
Alpha Chi Omega has paired with other Greek organizations to promote their Healthy Relationships Week. They gave banners to other houses in Greek Village, and Lambda Chi Alpha helped Alpha Chi Omega with its Candy Gram Pass on Greene Street. Matthews says the brothers of Lambda Chi Alpha will be delivering Candy Grams with a song.
Today begins the third day of Healthy Relationship Week events for Alpha Chi Omega. They will be hosting a "Clothed in Hope" trunk show on Greene Street from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The sorority is encouraging students to participate in the #iBELIEVE Social Media Challenge on Thursday and grab dinner at Za's at 2930 Devine Street. Za's will be hosting a percent night for Sister Care from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Alpha Chi Omega will finish off their Healthy Relationship Week Friday with the Purple Carpet Prom. It will be a tacky prom themed dance from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Capstone Campus Room. Tickets are available for $5 at the Alpha Chi Omega house at 515 Gadsden Street in Greek Village.