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Last night in Ohio the fourth Democratic debate covered issues from health care, gun control and abortion to the Turkish invasion of Syria. What's clear: Sen. Elizabeth Warren has replaced former VP Joe Biden as the centerstage target.

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Dating Violence on Campus: If You See Something, Say Something

Red Flag Campaign Poster
Red Flag Campaign Poster
October 23, 2012

BLACKSBURG, Va. - October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. College campuses and universities around Virginia are doing their part to help educate and support students - both victims and perpetrators.

Jen Underwood is an outreach coordinator at The Women's Center at Virginia Tech. She provides counseling and education services for victims of violence. It is very hard to quantify just how many victims of domestic and sexual violence there are on her campus - or any college campus - because many students do not come forward and report the incident, she says.

"They don't want to get another student in trouble. There's a lot of self-blame and guilt that survivors feel after being assaulted physically, emotionally, verbally or sexually."

Underwood says part of the apprehension in coming forward comes from the society at large. Victims are often blamed and second-guessed. Another issue is that many students, especially in the case of dating violence, are unaware of the signs that a person or a relationship is potentially dangerous.

"The red flags that they minimize the most are excessive jealousy, isolation and the controlling behaviors - the 'don't go out with those friends,' or 'I don't want you to do that,' or 'You shouldn't wear that.'"

This month, Virginia Tech and many other college campuses are part of "The Red Flag Campaign," a project of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. The campaign uses a "bystander intervention" strategy, encouraging friends and other campus community members to "say something" when they see warning signs or "red flags" for dating violence in a friend's relationship.

Underwood tells victims of dating violence or sexual assault to reach out for help immediately. The statewide hotline number is 1-800-838-8238.

More information about the Red Flag Campaign is available at www.theredflagcampaign.org.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA