Red flags first found spotted across campus before fall break were a mystery for students and seemingly for college officials according to their online video that debuted before break. But, when students returned from break the mystery, was solved.
Posters, literature and another video found on the UVa-Wise website, this one much more serious, informed the campus about the realities of dating violence, both physical and mental. The initiative, part of the Red Flag Campaign, was conducted by the Center of Student Development and the Student Development Advisory Board in partnership with Frontier Health, Family Crisis and Support Services of Norton and Hope House of Scott County.
The program is to help students see their own “red flags” so that dating violence isn’t a mystery on the UVa-Wise campus.
Counselor Tabitha Smith said that one in five college relationships experience some sort of dating violence.
“We are all impacted in some form daily by the relationships that are a part of our lives no matter if those are healthy or unhealthy ones,” Smith said.
She said that in the UVa-Wise counseling center, relationship issues are always at the top of the needs that she assists students with.
The Red Flag Campaign has been conducted by colleges throughout the state and region including Emory and Henry College and East Tennessee State University. Created through a proposal from the Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Foundation to the Verizon Foundation, the Red Flag Campaign seeks to increase public awareness using the “bystander intervention” strategy to encourage friends and campus community members to “say something” when they see warning signs, or “red flags”, for dating violence, according to the campaign’s website.
The “red flags” each focus on particular components/ continums of violence often found in dating abuse: emotional abuse, coercion, excessive jealousy, isolation, sexual assault and victim blaming.
Smith said the multiple facets of the red flags are used to show that dating abuse isn’t just physical and the type changes with every situation making awareness all the more important.
Smith said she hopes UVa-Wise students take notice from the campaign that dating violence, both physical and mental, happens everywhere even on campus. She said students shouldn’t ignore the red flags in their friend’s and own relationships when they occur.
“The point of the red flag campaign is to encourage friends to not be a bystander, and to say something if they witness the abuse while lending an ear if needed,” Smith said. “Don’t force the issue, but allow your friend to confide in you at [their] own pace. Focus on supporting your friend’s right to make their own decisions and also guide them to counseling services on campus or to community services.”
Senior business administration major Nathan Rasnake, who helped out with the campus initiative from its early beginnings in July with the SDAB, said he’s received a positive response from the campus community from the red flag campaign.
“You always get people that just say they don’t understand, but I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from people emailing or messaging me on Facebook or people that have talked with Tabitha because they really appreciate it,” Rasnake said. “It’s something that doesn’t really get brought up and people don’t want to talk about it. It’s a dark subject that needs to be brought into the light so more people are aware of it and spot it because if you see something you should say something.”
For more information regarding the Red Flag Campaign, students can visit www.redflagcampaign.org.
For more information about what constitutes dating violence, how to help, or to find out how to get help for a friend or yourself, students can visit Counseling Services on the bottom floor of Cantrell Hall. Appointments with Smith or Counselors Rachel Rose or Sara Schill can be made in person or by phone at 276-376-1005.