It’s a bird, it’s a plane – no, it’s a flag protesting sexual assault and supporting survivors of sexual assault.
On Tuesday, the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center lined State Street – from Victoria Street to Cabrillo Boulevard – with purple and black flags in celebration of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The flags, which will continue to fly over State Street until May 3, are imprinted with the organization’s logo – a close-up graphic of a face meant as a reminder that sexual assault can happen to someone close.
SBRCC Community Education Coordinator Ivonne Zarate said the flags have been put up along State Street once a year since 1997.
“The flag is a symbol against sexual assault and in support of the survivors of sexual assault,” she said. “The statement we want to make is that sexual assault should not be tolerated; it’s a community issue and that’s why it’s important to have the flags on State Street.”
The SBRCC – which offers services including a 24-hour emergency hotline, counseling and self-defense classes – adopted the logo for the flag after seeing it at a Take Back the Night rally, Zarate said.
“We started working on a flag in 1992, and when we saw the logo at the rally we really liked it so we adopted it,” she said. “We actually made the flag happen in 1997.”
Replicas of the flags are being sold to the public at the SBRCC for $25 and flagpoles are $15.00.
“We’re selling smaller copies of the flags for people to fly in houses and at work. We’re inviting the community to fly their flags in support of being against sexual assault and in support of survivors of sexual assault,” Zarate said. “The proceeds from the flags benefit the Rape Crisis Center.”
April officially became Sexual Assault Awareness Month in 1997.
“Take Back the Night is an international movement and different universities or areas used to choose different months to hold their events,” she said. “A lot of Take Back the Night’s were held in October, which is now Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but in 1997 it was agreed April would be designated Sexual Assault Month. Both include a lot of information about the same issues.”
The flags are one of many activities sponsored by the SBRCC this month. Zarate said purple ribbons are another symbol people are using, which signifies opposition to sexual assault and support of survivors of sexual assault.
The next SBRCC self-defense class will be held April 28. The 24-hour hotline can be reached at 564-3696.