A stance against domestic violence
Alexandra Scicchitano – Reporter
The Red Flag Campaign’s intention is to educate students on what a “red flag” is in a relationship and how to participate in bystander intervention, said Melissa Kissi, a sexual assault and violence prevention specialist.
“The Red Flag Campaign is a national campaign focused on the prevention of violence or intimate partner violence,” said Kissi. Red Flag is a national campaign starting in 2007 through the Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance, according to Kissi. The Violence Prevention, Victim Advocacy and Support (VPAS) Center has been participating since the time the campaign started in 2007 or 2008 said Kissi.
Sarah Joseph, a senior, and exercise science major, who has a concentration in human performance said the point of the Red Flag Campaign is to make students aware of what is okay or not okay in relationships.
“So, we go into inquiry classes, we also have informational tables, we bring actual red flags and we do a program on the signs, we do a program on what’s healthy, what’s unhealthy and then at the end of the program, we ask them to write actual red flags,” said Kissi.
Students are coming to tables and making the flags for campus, there is a team effort going on, said Amanda Valentin, a junior, and social work major, a member of VPAS who was running a Red Flag Campaign tabling event.
“I think it’s very, very important, especially [since] abusive relationships are almost romanticized,” said Valentin.
Working for VPAS, Valentin said it has been rewarding and she knows she is making a difference. The highest rates of relationship violence happen between high school and college, according to Kissi.
“And that’s why we try to move away from that term, domestic violence awareness month, because a lot of times, even though it’s not true, a lot of times, people think on domestic violence, it’s just when people are old and married or they live together,” said Kissi.
When people are unwilling to talk about the topic of abuse in relationships, the issue is going to stay, said Joseph.
“It constantly reminds people that you should always be aware of any form of abuse, whether it be a friendship or relationship,” said Joseph.
The VPAS Center conducts surveys through an online program called Not Anymore, a suite with interactive online sexual assault prevention programs according to their website. Previously, they used Haven, a program to educate students on sexual assault and relationship violence.
The VPAS Center surveys first year students about what they would do in specific situations if they were bystanders and how they would act, said Kissi. Flyers were hung around campus with the results from the surveys on them, and they are part of a social norming campaign, said Kissi.
“Social norming is the idea to get students to know state of things, rather than having a perception in their mind,” said Kissi. “The flyers show that most students do have a healthy attitude,” said Kissi, “that they do want to step in as active bystanders, that they don’t want sexual violence on this campus, they don’t want to tolerate it.”
Photo Credit: Palmer Piana