Red Flag Campaign at ETSU raises relationship violence awareness

Brandon Paykamian • Oct 24, 2019 at 6:26 PM

Many East Tennessee State University students have experienced some form of relationship abuse ranging from controlling behavior and stalking to physical abuse or sexual assault. 

In a recent ETSU survey, 88% of students who participated reported experiencing some sort of relationship abuse or unwanted contact in the past year, according to Kate Emmerich, senior counselor and coordinator of the ETSU Outreach and Advocacy: Sexuality Information for Students Program. 

“We see it very frequently,” Emmerich said. “It can be anything from something as egregious to physical or sexual abuse, but more often, what we see — especially early on in relationships — is much more subtle things. Maybe jealousy, checking a person’s phone, making a person feel obligated to contact you every time they go somewhere. These elements of power and control that often translate to abuse.

“When you step back and look at the bigger picture of the relationship, oftentimes, you start putting pieces together, and it adds up.” 

To shed a light on sexual and relationship violence, ETSU’s OASIS Program encouraged students to participate in this year’s national Red Flag Campaign Thursday morning. The lawn outside Nicks Hall was covered in red flags, each highlighting examples of relationship violence students have experienced.

“It gives students an opportunity to share their own experiences of red flags and also observe red flags that have been presented by other students,” Emmerich said. “It’s really taking a look at our own student population and things they’ve experienced.

“The idea of it as a visual campaign is to show how many red flags ETSU students have experienced in their relationships to show this is actually a really common experience.”

While examples of relationship abuse vary, it often escalates into physical and sexual abuse, according to Emmerich. Nationally, she pointed out that about 33% of students report being victims of interpersonal violence by the time they get to college. 

“One in four to one in three students who took that (ETSU) survey also reported experiencing sexual assault before they even came to ETSU,” Emmerich said. 

For more information about the Red Flag Campaign, the ETSU Counseling Center or OASIS, call 423-439-3333 or visit OASIS’s webpage at www.etsu.edu/students/counseling/oasis.

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