James Madison University

Do You Know a Red Flag When You See One?

By: Sydney Palese
Posted October 29, 2013

PHOTO: JMU Students with Duke DogOne in five college relationships involve intimate partner abuse – true or false?

Raychel Whyte, a senior health-sciences major, asked this question to a small group of college-aged women in an office decorated with posters about sexual assault and LGBT education in Montpelier Hall.

The answer was unfortunately true.

The group, led by Whyte, was training to prepare for the Red Flag Campaign, a weeklong series of awareness-raising events to educate students about intimate partner violence.

The Red Flag campaign takes place in October, which is “Intimate Partner Violence Awareness Month”. According to the website theredflagcampaign.org, the annual campaign is a project of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, and was created by college students, college personnel, and community victim advocates.

PHOTO: JMU studentsWhyte, who is the Sexual Assault Prevention student employee through Student Wellness and Outreach (SWO), said the main goal for the JMU campus’ campaign is to make people understand what the red flags for dating abuse are and how to intervene.

Another component is “bystander intervention,” which she said is knowing how and when to spot these red flags. The purpose is wrapped up in a slogan that has been showing up all around campus – “Say something.” Red flags include sexual abuse, isolation, emotional abuse, stalking and coercion, along with visible signs of physical abuse.

Whyte said that former students in her position with Sexual Assault Prevention traditionally take on planning the Red Flag Campaign week every year; her work has been ongoing since she started the position at the beginning of the fall semester. In addition to her work with the campaign, she will also help coordinate other events like “Take Back the Night” and the “Clothesline Project”.

The campaign, which took place the week of Oct. 21-25, included events like raising awareness on the commons, a bake sale, trivia and “Wear Red Day”. Whyte said they got President Alger and his staff involved by wearing red.

Student volunteers for the campaign chalked the commons, hung banners and provided resident advisers with pre-made bulletin boards educating students about “red flags”.

PHOTO: red flags on hillsideWhyte said she hopes the campaign will open doors for involvement with sexual assault awareness. Beyond the Red Flag Campaign week, she said Sexual Assault and Prevention is always seeking ways to decrease sexual violence in addition to increasing reports of sexual violence, which she said a lot of people don’t do on college campuses.

“Sexual assault is something people don’t talk about or understand enough,” Whyte said. “Everyone is affected by it. It’s important to reach out to everyone and help them understand the issue.”

Whyte, who is concentrating in health assessment and promotion and carrying a minor in substance abuse prevention, hopes to work more with the issue of sexual violence and assault in the future.

Learn more about the Red Flag Campaign

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