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Raising 'Red Flags' on Virginia College Campuses

October 31, 2008

Blacksburg, VA - It takes seeing, and heeding, some "red flags" in order to identify and prevent unhealthy relationships that can lead to sexual abuse and violence. The Red Flag Campaign is underway on Virginia college campuses, to raise students' awareness of the warning signs that indicate something's not quite right in a dating or roommate situation.

Jen Underwood, who works in the Women's Center at Virginia Tech, says even things as seemingly innocuous as text messages can be red flags.

"If you get 50 texts from your boyfriend or girlfriend in a day, that's not really love - that's controlling behavior, and it's not part of a healthy relationship."

Underwood says nearly every campus has a resource center that can provide advice and support for students who have relationship concerns. Sometimes, she adds, it takes a friend's gentle encouragement to use these types of services. Her advice? Don't be afraid to speak up.

"When they hear messages from their friends - 'I don't know if that's right; I don't know if you should be acting that way,' or you know, 'I'm a little bit concerned about your safety in your relationship' - then they tend to take that in better."

The Red Flag Campaign is a project of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. It includes a Web site ( with a listing of emergency and support contacts at all Virginia universities.

Eric Mack/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - VA