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Red Flag Campaign Focuses Attention on Warning Signs of Relationship Violence

Members of the Old Dominion University community who walk through Kaufman Mall may have noticed hundreds of tiny red flags have sprung up, like mushrooms, in front of Webb Center.

They're part of the ODU Women's Center's efforts to raise awareness of dating violence on university campuses during national Relationship Violence Awareness Month.

The Red Flag Campaign is a statewide initiative, and includes a series of eight posters that illustrate "red flags" that might appear in a relationship where dating violence is occurring. Each poster reflects one of the following themes: coercion, emotional abuse, sexual assault, victim blaming, excessive jealousy, isolation and stalking.

An example of a helpful peer response is also provided on each poster.

Joann Bautti-Roche from the Women's Center explains that peer groups have the ability to provide safety and support and can also dictate what behaviors are unacceptable.

"The purpose of The Red Flag Campaign is to encourage students and the campus community to speak up when they see warning signs ("red flags") for dating violence in a friend's relationship," said Bautti-Roche, assistant director and Sexual Assault Free Environment coordinator at the Women's Center. "Friends have an influential role in intervening in dating violence, not only with the victim, but also with the abusive partner."

College students are at extremely high risk of either acting as perpetrator or being a victim of dating physical or sexual violence during their college years:

  • 32 percent of college students report dating violence by a previous partner, and 21 percent report violence by a current partner.
  • 12 percent of completed rapes, 35 percent of attempted rapes and 22 percent of threatened rapes occur on a date.

In addition to the poster and flag campaign, a series of events is being held on campus this month to continue to focus attention on this under-reported problem on university campuses. The events include:

Relationship Red Flags

Oct. 18

12:30-1:30 p.m.

Potomac River Room, Webb Center

Stalking, coercion, isolation, jealousy and emotional abuse are all red flags for relationship violence. Learn more about recognizing relationship red flags and how to promote healthy relationships.

Women's Self-Defense Workshop

Oct. 20

7:30-9:30 p.m.

Norfolk Karate Academy

814 W. 45th St., Norfolk

Students will learn easy self-defense techniques that can be used to help escape a potentially dangerous situation. RSVP by Oct. 19 to womenctr@odu.edu in order to participate.

Red Flag Candlelight Vigil

Oct. 24

7:30 p.m.

Kaufman Mall (rain location: River Rooms)

One in three women is a victim of domestic and relationship violence. This candlelight vigil will honor the lives of all women, children and men affected by this violence. Presented by Sigma Gamma Gamma

Speaking Out: The Stacey Lannert Story

Oct. 27

8 p.m.

North Cafeteria, Webb Center

Lannert was recently released from prison, where she served 18 years for fatally shooting the man who raped her from ages 8 through 18 − her father. The governor granted her clemency in 2009 and she is now sharing her story of hope, forgiveness and empowerment. Presented by the Student Activities Council

The Red Flag Project was developed by the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance and is financially supported by Verizon. Statewide events are coordinated by an advisory committee of administrators, faculty and students from many Virginia colleges and universities.

"We are proud to be a part of the advisory committee, and to have played an instrumental role in developing this exciting campaign," Bautti-Roche said. She said the key is "helping college students harness their power to change the cultural tolerance of violence in relationships."

For more information about what constitutes dating violence, how to help or how to get help for a friend, visit www.TheRedFlagCampaign.org.

This article was posted on: October 7, 2011

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Room 100 Koch Hall Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0018
Telephone: 757-683-3114

Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution.