Warning signs abound



Emotional abuse. Isolation. Stalking. Coercion. Jealousy. Sexual assault. Victim-blaming.

Considered the "red flags" for dating violence, those components are depicted in posters displayed on the Fort Hays State University campus.

A project developed by the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, and adopted by the FHSU Women's Leadership Project, the Red Flag Campaign is aimed at identifying the warning signs of date violence.

"I love the posters because what they say on the flags is so real," said Erin Frownfelter, graduate student and project coordinator. "It's almost like you're hearing it from someone. I really think the posters are powerful."

According to research from the Red Flag Campaign website:

* 32 percent of college students report dating violence by a previous partner, and 21 percent report violence by a current partner.

* 12 percent of completed rapes, 35 percent of attempted rapes and 22 percent of threatened rapes occur on a date.

* 1 in 4 women will survive rape or attempted rape during their college career, and rape is the most common violent crime committed on college campuses.

The posters will be on display at various campus locations throughout the month of October, which is National Domestic Violence Awareness month.

"We want people to be able to stop and read them. Some posters have signs for good and healthy and unhealthy relationships. We really want people to stop and look at what a healthy relationship looks like," Frownfelter said.

The campaign has generated interest on campus, with people stopping to ask questions. Posters also were on display at Saturday's FHSU football game, thanks to a partnership with the FHSU athletic department.

"Peer groups can provide safety and support and have the ability to dictate what behaviors are unacceptable," said Christie Brungardt, Women's Leadership Project founder.

"The FHSU Kelly Center is a good place to get more information on helping a friend you think is experiencing dating violence."

A new initiative of the Center for Civic Leadership, the Women's Leadership Project is an outgrowth of the Kansas Women's Leadership Conference, which has provided a forum for women's issues and statewide networking for four years.

"Basically, we're taking the already successful Women's Leadership Conference to a year-round thing instead of one event each year," Frownfelter said. "The Women's Leadership Project is aimed at empowering, educating and inspiring women around the state."

Upcoming events for the Women's Leadership Project will include a self-defense seminar and wellness series, focusing on body image, self-esteem and how fitness affects both mental and physical well-being. Plans are underway to implement statewide projects next spring.