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October 7, 2013

Campus Community Raising Red Flags to Draw Attention to Relationship Violence

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By Brendan O'Hallarn

On American college campuses, relationship violence has been identified by experts as a serious issue. College students are at extremely high risk of either acting as perpetrators or being victims of dating physical or sexual violence throughout their postsecondary years.

  • One-third of college students report dating violence by a previous partner, and 21 percent report violence by a current partner.
  • Twelve percent of completed rapes, 35 percent of attempted rapes and 22 percent of threatened rapes occur on a date.
  • Fifty-one percent of college males admit perpetrating one or more sexual assault incidents during college.

Because of these troubling statistics, the ODU Women's Center is raising some "red flags."

Throughout the month, members of the university community who walk through Kaufman Mall will notice hundreds of tiny red flags near Webb Center. The flags are part of the annual Red Flag Campaign, to raise awareness about the prevalence of dating violence on university campuses.

The campaign is a statewide initiative to shed light on relationship violence and includes a series of eight posters that illustrate "red flags" that might appear in a relationship where dating violence is occurring. The posters depict students of different genders, ethnicities and sexual orientations, and also focus on different aspects of dating violence, including emotional abuse, coercion, excessive jealousy, isolation, sexual assault and victim-blaming.

This year's campaign is co-sponsored by the National Pan-Hellenic Council. Joann Bautti of the ODU Women's Center is excited about the organization's proactive involvement.

"Christina Kanu, president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, has taken the 2013 campaign to new heights by connecting it to Homecoming," Bautti said. Head football coach Bobby Wilder has recorded a public service announcement, which will be played during Saturday's Homecoming football game.

"Additionally, peer educator Saige Hill is coordinating a beneficiary showcase, 'Taking the Stage,' to raise awareness and activism around the issue of dating violence. Christina and Saige are perfect examples of the campaign in action," Bautti said.

The focus of the campaign is on helping college students harness their power to change a campus culture that normalizes and tolerates unhealthy relationship behaviors.

Other events planned for the monthlong Red Flag Campaign include:

  • "Talk Red," Thursday, Oct. 10, 7 p.m., James/Lynnhaven River Room, Webb Center
    The ODU NPHC Sororities will facilitate an evening discussing issues that women face while in romantic relationships. A guest from the ODU Women's Center will join the discussion.
  • Delivery of Red Flag Bouquets, Friday, Oct. 11, campuswide
    Red Flag Campaign bouquets will be delivered to offices on campus along with Red Flag Campaign cards. By providing visibility on campus, students, as well as staff, will be encouraged to speak up when they see red flags for dating violence.
  • Wear Red Days, Thursday, Oct. 17, and Tuesday, Oct. 29, campuswide
    Stop by the Red Flag Campaign information table between 12:30-1:30 p.m., wearing red to show your support for the cause.
  • "Taking the Stage," Friday, Oct. 18, Chandler Recital Hall, Diehn Center for the Performing Arts
    "Taking The Stage" is a celebratory showcase for survivors of relationship violence and their supporters. Proceeds will benefit the YWCA of South Hampton Roads.
  • "Pearls of Wisdom," Tuesday, Oct. 22, 7 p.m., James/Lynnhaven River Room, Webb Center
    "Pearls of Wisdom" will provide empowerment to the women of ODU by allowing them to connect with domestic abuse survivors. Attendees will participate in an open discussion and create inspirational frames for survivors of domestic violence.

Relationship Violence Awareness Month, organized by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, evolved from the first Day of Unity observed in October 1981 by the NCADV. The intent was to connect battered women's advocates across the nation, working to end violence against women and their children. The Day of Unity soon became a special week when other activities were conducted at the local, state and national levels.

For more information about what constitutes dating violence, how to help or how to get help for a friend, visit www.TheRedFlagCampaign.org or contact the ODU Women's Center at 683-4109.