Spotting the Red Flags

Each year, during the month of October, Student Development launches the Red Flag Campaign. Students, faculty, and staff can engage with the campaign through “planted” plots of red flags across campus and on social media.

The Red Flag Campaign encourages college students to intervene and say something when they see a warning sign (“Red Flag”) of dating/relationship violence.

Relationship Violence & Sexual Assault

Relationship or dating violence can happen to anyone—straight, gay, male, or female, and can include verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.

  • 1 in 4 or 5 women and 1 in 20 men will experience attempted or completed sexual assault during their time in college
  • 1 in 3 relationships have some aspect of abuse present
  • 47% of transgender and non-binary people experience sexual violence during their lifetime, and 78% experience harassment
  • 18-24 year-olds experience the highest rates of sexual assault and interpersonal violence
  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 13 men will experience stalking during their lifetime
  • Two-thirds of women who experienced stalking were stalked by current or former intimate partners
  • 32% of college students report dating violence by a previous partner
  • 21% of college students report violence by a current partner

Types of Dating Violence

Repeated following, harassment, or other unwanted communication

Limiting who someone can hang out with

Using emotional pressure or physical threats to engage in sexual/other acts Sexual assault – pressuring or forcing someone into sexual activity against his/her will Emotional Abuse – put-downs, name-calling, and other degrading comments

All-consuming possessiveness or suspicion

Treating someone poorly and then blaming them for it

Warning Signs

The campaign encourages students, staff, and faculty to be active positive bystanders if they witness warning signs of relationship violence and sexual assault. A positive bystander has the ability to step in and talk with their friend, family member, or student about their safety and help them find resources should they need them. Warning signs or “red flags” may look like:

Relationship Violence Red Flags

  • Insults or derogatory language used against a partner
  • Controlling behaviors
  • Jealousy
  • Monitoring social media
  • Isolating their partner from family or friends
  • Controlling finances
  • Bruises or other injuries
  • Withdrawal from usual activities

Sexual Assault Red Flags

  • Attempts to separate someone from their friends and get them alone
  • Pressuring someone to drink excessively
  • Use of date-rape drugs
  • Pushing physical boundaries
  • Signs of incapacitation
  • Use of pressure, guilt, or coercion
  • Bruises or other injuries

You’ve Noticed Red Flags, Now What?

If you notice a red flag, you have options to help intervene!

All bystanders face a choice: Do I ignore the situation? Or do I step in and try to make things better?

You may never encounter a critical emergency. More likely, you could find yourself in everyday situations where you may notice behavior that could be disrespectful, harassing, controlling, coercive, or harmful.

You have the ability to:

  • stop a situation from escalating
  • help someone that could be at risk
  • prevent someone from making a decision that could harm themselves or another person

Use the three D’s! Direct, Delegate, and Distract


Do something yourself. When one person is mistreating another verbally, physically or emotionally, speak up and step in if it is safe to do so. Politely ask someone to stop what they are doing or check in on someone that you think might need help.

Sometimes, lending a listening ear can go a long way. Tell your friend that you care and are willing to listen. Don’t force the issue, but allow your friend to confide in you at her/his own pace. Give her/him emotional support. Emphasize that s/he deserves a life that is free from violence. If your friend decides to end the relationship, help her/him make a plan to be safe.


If you do not feel comfortable stepping in yourself, ask someone for help. This could be an RA, GRD, Dean, another staff or faculty member, peer, or campus safety officer.


If you don’t want to address the situation directly, a distraction could be a good way to diffuse tension or give someone who’s uncomfortable an opportunity to exit.


Counseling Center: (704) 406-4563

University Police: (704) 406-4444

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1 (800) 656-HOPE (4673)

Mrs. Lesley Villarose
Vice President of Student Development and Dean of Students
Interim Title IX Coordinator and ADA Coordinator
(704) 406-2081 | [email protected]

Red Flag Campaign Background

The Red Flag Campaign uses a bystander intervention strategy to address and prevent sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking on college campuses. The campaign encourages friends and other campus community members to say something when they see warning signs (“red flags”) for sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking in a friend’s relationship.

The 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.

For more information about the national campaign click the button below.