RED is the colour of love – think Valentine’s Day roses; of luxury – think Christian Louboutin shoes; and of danger – red flags, violence and anger.
For the charity Impact, red exemplifies the violence and anger that too many women experience from the people who say they love them.
“It is such a contradiction,” Kathy Kaplan, Impact’s founder and president said.
This contradiction is just one driver for Impact’s launch of its WeaRed4Impact campaign on Monday, 3 May, the first working day of Domestic and Family Violence Awareness Month.
Impact is an entirely volunteer-run charity committed to making a difference to Victorian women and children fleeing extreme violence at home.
Wearing a touch of red is a conversation starter for the month, one which Impact feels now is most imperative.
“In recent times, the public saw and heard, from our leaders down the disrespecting of women in particular,” she said.
“With the horrific deaths we witnessed last week, it is more important than ever.
“We are asking people to help us start [and maintain] this conversation by wearing a touch of red on Monday, or for that matter, any day during May.
“Whatever you wear, please take a selfie and post with the hashtag #WearRed4Impact.”
Ms Kaplan said the reason to launch the initiative now just felt right.
While the campaign’s primary objective is the conversation, Impact would welcome people making a tax-deductible donation.
“Remember that the three deaths that happened last week are deaths, [but] how many people live in fear?” Ms Kaplan asked.
“The physical violence and then murder doesn’t come out of nowhere; it develops and grows over time,” she said.
“It starts with the innocuous jokes, and we need to watch out for the people who are putting other people down, who are not respecting them, who are only thinking about themselves.
“We need to recognise and help each other way before the physical, just like the frog who realises way too late that the water is boiling and is unable to jump out to save itself.
“It is a slow boil, and if you miss the red flags, someone needs to point it out.”
Ms Kaplan describes having the conversation with someone who is in danger as planting the seed.
Women in a domestic or family violence relationship with a partner they love or trust want to believe it when they promise it won’t happen again.
By planting the seed, it may help to remove the instinct to deny and unblock reality.
“I talk about the frog in the water,” Ms Kaplan said.
“That is exactly how it is; by the time you get to physical abuse, you have been conditioned to believe that that is appropriate,” she said.
“Many domestic violence deaths have made it to the front page of the papers, how many have not?
“It’s not about the deaths; it’s about the lead up to those deaths.”
It is essential to get a broader community understanding of the widespread nature and consequences of the violence.
Margot Hillel OAM, chair of the Impact board said while women and their children are unfortunately at the forefront, it is about parents and grandparents who also suffer the corollaries.
“The conversation could also help clear up the mistaken idea of where domestic violence against women families happens,” Ms Hillel said.
“It is not confined to a particular socio-economic group nor specific geographic areas,” she said.
Before Christmas and Mother’s Day each year, Impact calls on volunteers to help fill their Bags of Love, given to survivors of domestic violence.
On the packing days, all Impact’s board members wear red hats or caps to identify them if a volunteer needs assistance.
“I am wearing my red hat on Monday, 3 May for my touch of red,” Ms Hillel said.