Red Flag Campaign And Self-Defense

by Nour Kheireddine

A red flag in football means a referee’s call in the previous play is questionable. At O.D.U., the Red Flag Campaign aims to teach friends to recognize the signs of violence and abuse in a relationship.

“This campaign promotes a] a third party to get involved when a student sees a friend being abused in her relationship she speaks out and guides her friend to get help,” Said Lawanza Lett-Brewington, the new director of Old Dominion University’s Women’s Center. The campaign was started in part after two women were allegedly raped by two football players last year. Both were suspended from the team and school and await trial in December. “Most sexual assaults happen during the first six weeks of the semester”, says Lawanza, “and 51 percent of college males admit to perpetrating one or more sexual assault incidents during college”. She then goes on to explain that our male athletes are given training by the Women’s Center regarding the seriousness of physical and mental abuse, as well as the consequences faced by both victims and perpetrators of such crimes (paraphrase), adding that “[A] clear ‘yes’ means yes and everything else means no”.

Of course, a big part of the Red Flag campaign is educating people, but it also relies on friends recognizing when their friends are victims of such abuse– and knowing how to help. One-third of college students report relationship violence by a previous partner and 21 percent of reports are of violence by a current partner.

College students are at a high risk of being exposed to some kind of physical or sexual violence.  Lett-Brewington said, “eight times out of 10 the perpetrator is not a stranger”, The Red Flag Campaign teaches students both male and female the signs of an unhealthy relationship and a healthy one. About two percent of female students who experience some kind of violence do not make reports.

The women’s center has also partnered up with the Norfolk Karate Academy to teach about 25-50 female students self-defense techniques. Bill Odom, the Master Instructor, teaches Gracie Jiu-Jitsu maneuvers and tells students to practice with other female friends, never with a male. “you need to keep the element of surprise, incase your man friend can be a possible perpetrator,” Odom said. The Gracie Jiu-Jitsu techniques are made up of “quick solutions that require the least amount of exertion and give you enough time to run away from a possibly ugly situation,” said Odom.