Red Flag Campaign arrives on campus
On the lawn in front of Dana Hall, there is a cluster of small, red flags containing handwritten messages, which are part of the Red Flag Campaign.
The project is a national public awareness campaign that addresses dating violence on college campuses. The Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance launched the Red Flag Campaign in October 2007 to work to prevent physical, sexual, emotional and psychological dating violence, providing resources for college campuses.
A 1996 study by Christine Sellers and Max Bromley indicated that in approximately 21 percent of college dating relationships, one of the partners is being abused. The study incorporated data from over 2,000 students at a large university.
One of the campaign’s platforms is the bystander intervention strategy, which encourages people to speak up when they see “red flags” that might indicate an abusive relationship.
Associate Dean of Students and Director of the Pugh Center Dr. Tashia Bradley said, “We, as a community, have to help each other so we can all grow....What if we all took ownership of our community and got enough momentum going that one less person had to go through this?”
When asked about the campaign coming to the Hill, Emily Post ’15 said, “I think it’s a good reminder to people who might be in such a relationship or to people who’ve noticed the red flags in other people’s relationships and have ignored it.”
The campaign’s website offers guidelines about whether or not a relationship is healthy, “red flags” that a relationship may be abusive, what a partner’s rights are in a relationship and how to help a friend or classmate.
“One of the points of this campaign is to help clarify what the red flags of abuse really are, and then to empower people so that they can impact what’s going on around them,” Bradley said.
The campaign is not only focused on the victims of dating violence, but also provides information for partners who may be the abuser. According to Mary Kate Fitzpatrick ’15, “I think it’s a good campaign that raises awareness....If you know of a domestic [abuse] relationship, you have to make it known that what’s going on is not OK.”
The mission of the campaign is divided into three specific sections. First, the campaign is aimed specifically at college students who are friends or peers of people on either side of an abusive relationship. Second, the campaign educates friends and peers about the red flags of dating violence so that they know what makes a healthy relationship and what does not.
Finally, the campaign’s slogan, “Say Something,” encourages people to speak up and intervene to help stop and prevent abuse.
A significant portion of the campaign involves posters around campus depicting students of different genders, ethnicities and sexual orientations. Different posters focus on different aspects of dating violence, including emotional abuse, coercion, excessive jealousy, isolation, sexual assault and victim-blaming.
Part of this program’s mission is to teach people how to “intervene before it gets to the point where you can’t,” Bradley said, asserting that there is a perception in our society that the judicial system will fix abuse. However, “The judicial system was not designed to be a prevention. It was designed to deal with incidents,” she said.
Instead of letting situations get to this point, “we, as a community, have to help each other so we can all grow,” Bradley said. “What if we all took ownership of our community and got enough momentum going that one less person had to go through this?”
For more information on the Red Flag Campaign, go to theredflagcampaign.org.
Students interested in participating in a follow-up workshop, entitled “Bringing in the Bystander,” should come to the Pugh Center on Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. No sign-up is necessary.
If you or a friend is in need of immediate assistance, there is a confidential National Domestic Violence Hotline that is available for free, 24 hours a day at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).