Relationship abuse and sexual assault awareness campaign comes to Parkland

Photo by David Saveanu | Red flags placed as part of a relationship abuse and sexual assault awareness campaign stand in front of Parkland’s U-wing.

Photo by David Saveanu |
Red flags placed as part of a relationship abuse and sexual assault awareness campaign stand in front of Parkland’s U-wing.

David Saveanu

Staff Writer

Surrounding the Parkland campus were red flags meant to symbolize the multitude of “red flags” that can signify an abusive relationship, and were placed as part of a campaign to educate Parkland-goers about the signs of abusive relationships.

Student Life worked with the Red Flag Campaign, a project of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, to bring attention to Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and to the different types of relationship abuse.

Student Life workers placed the flags around campus. 250 flags were placed in front of the school on Monday, April 3, and 500 were placed around the back of the college on Tuesday, April 4.

A primary volunteer and coordinator in the red flag event at Parkland was Jaya Kolisetty, the associate director for Rape Advocacy, Counseling, & Education Services, which is an organization that aims to “challenge the rape culture and empower victims and survivors of sexual assault through advocacy, counseling, education, crisis intervention, and activism,” according to their website.

Kolisetty sat at a table in the Student Union and answered questions about the red flags, the campaign, and gave students information about getting help, such as numbers they can call or places that offer counseling for victims of sexual assault or relationship violence.

Kolisetty was there “for the local rape crisis center,” providing information about sexual assault and the campaign.

Kolisetty said that the campaign is just one aspect of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

“The red flag campaign is one of many events that are happening in April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month,” Kolisetty said. “[T]his particular campaign talks about warning signs that someone in an abusive relationship can identify.”

The campaign focuses on empowering bystanders to say something when they see someone might be in an abusive situation.

“A lot of times people don’t know what to do if they have a friend who is in an abusive relationship, people tend to feel helpless,” said Kolisetty, “so this campaign is much more about just saying what options are available.”

Kolisetty talked about how important it is to recognize abusive behavior earlier.

“A lot of time people don’t notice abuse until it gets to physical violence,” Kolisetty says.

She says Parkland and the University of Illinois are trying to make sure both campuses let students know what resources are available through events like this.

“The University of Illinois has been doing this for a couple of years,” Kolisetty says, “[They have] been collaborating with Parkland [through their first event] to make sure that similar programs are offered at both campuses, so if one event is happening at one place, hopefully both [campuses] can share and support each other.”

The Red Flag Campaign hopes to address sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking on college campuses through “a bystander intervention strategy.”

It is a national effort that works with campuses everywhere to increase awareness. It is often a recurring event on campuses. The campaign is structured so a school will purchase a package of red flags and some posters about the signs of relationship violence to place around its campus.

Throughout April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, there are a multitude of events happening throughout the community that you can participate in.

RACES encourages the community to participate in these events and remain aware of the realities of sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking on college campuses; through this awareness, they hope many more victims can be helped.

For more information on the Red Flag Campaign, visit theredflagcampaign.org.