Women’s Center holds annual Red Flag Campaign on campus

Jessica PellegrinoGeneral Assignment Reporter

Red flags are warning signs and attention grabbers. Every October, the Southern Connecticut State University Women’s Center brings new light to the phrase “red flag.”

Each October for the last four years, The Women’s Center, in collaboration with the Men’s Initiative, sponsors the Red Flag Campaign to raise awareness for dating violence.

The Red Flag Campaign was founded by the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance in 2005. The original goal of the program was to create an awareness and education campaign designed specifically to address dating violence among students on Virginia’s college and university campuses.

Since its founding, the program has spread from just Virginia institutes to all around the country.

The Red Flag Campaign happens every October because it is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

red flagThe National Red Flag Campaign’s goals are to, “Target college students who are friends/peers of victims and perpetrators of dating violence, educate friends/peers about “red flags” (warning indicators) of dating violence, and encourage friends/peers to “say something” (i.e. intervene in the situation).”

This is the fourth year that SCSU is running the campaign. Julian Wilson, graduate intern in the Women’s Center, played a key role in planning the campaign.

Wilson said, “Our main goal is raise awareness of dating violence and really show what a healthy relationship looks like.” The Women’s Center raised awareness through posters around campus, but the project itself involved hundreds of little red flags.

Wilson said, “Tabling in the Adanti Student Center helped to encourage students to participate in the flag project. We asked the students to write on red flags. They can write ‘red flags’ they have seen in relationships. The flags are stuck in the ground all around campus. The flags are a way of creating passive awareness.”

The flags serve as a source of passive awareness because they get students talking about the subject. Students look at the flags and wonder what they mean. The larger signs serve as supplementary information.

Wilson also took the project to a new level this year. “We also did a lot of programming this year. We can’t reach every single student but we went to inquiry classes and held programs in the student center. Programing is a more active form of awareness.”

red flag-1The program emphasizes what a healthy relationship looks like. Sometimes, students may find themselves in relationships they do not know are unhealthy. Relationships in which significant others try to control where you go, what you wear, or who you hang out with are potentially unhealthy relationship.

The Red Flag Campaign also hopes to raise the amount of bystander intervention that exists in the domestic abuse field. Cases of domestic abuse tend to be considered, “problems of the home.” So often times, people feel that they should not intervene.

The campaign aims to tell bystanders that they have a responsibility to intervene safely.

The campaign posters are not exclusively geared towards men, women, heterosexual or homesexual relationship. They encompass all types of situations.

The posters aim to raise awareness for the six typical types of domestic abuse; emotional abuse, coercion, excessive jealousy,  isolation, sexual assault, and victim-blaming.

The Sexual Assault Resource Team, or S.A.R.T at SCSU, supplies three steps to safe intervention, called the Three D’s.

First, be direct. If you feel comfortable doing so, approach the sexual offender. Secondly, distract attention from the situation. Ask the offender where the bathroom is, or anything to avoid the situation. If the situation is still threatening at this point, delegate or call the University Police, or ask someone else for help.

Sometimes, intervention can be a tricky thing to do, but it is always the right option.

Photo Credit: Derek Torrellas and Jessica Pellegrino

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