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Ottawa University Stands Up To Domestic Violence

By Ada Castro
On October 31, 2016

In 2008, 25-years-old Jana L. Mackey was murdered by her ex-boyfriend. She was a passionate advocate for victims of domestic violence and a student in the same field. Jana’s parents, Christie and Curt Brungardt, decided that something bigger needed to be born after their daughter’s tragic death. In 2009, Jana’s campaign was founded with the mission of reducing gender and relationship violence through prevention education.

“Although it started because of Jana, it is about everyone’s daughters,” Christie Brungardt says. Ottawa University, in an effort to educate our students, brought Christie and Curt on Thursday, Oct. 27, to campus in order to continue spreading knowledge during the Domestic Violence Awareness Week.

“It is sad. We miss Jana a lot, but we might as well do something beyond just crying,” Christie says.

The purpose they serve with their educational workshops all around the country is to make people aware that if we work on these issues together, we can change our generation because it does not have to be this way. Check out their website here:

Jana’s campaign has expanded significantly during the last three years: They now speak on college campuses on a national level. Kansas University created the Jana Mackey Lecture Series that brings an international speaker on the topic for every event. The Campus Safety Summit was also established as conferences for the campaign to evaluate strategies. Finally, one of the most significant trends this campaign has created, in partnership with the Women’s Leadership Project, is the Red Flag Campaign.

The Red Flag Campaign was designed to address dating violence and promote prevention on college campuses. It urges people to “say something” when they see the red flags. It is distinguished now on several schools nationwide, including three in Kansas, and it consists of writing a sign of abuse or dating violence on flags and displaying them all across campuses. On Thursday, Christie and Curt discussed some of the main flags our students should be aware of:


“What do you mean you want to see your family if you have me,” would be a classic line to discover this red flag. It is much easier to abuse someone when you isolate them from their support network, Christie explains.


This can be identified by seeing if victims are being forced to do something against their wishes, or when they are not ready for it yet. A typical line would be, “If we are going to stay together, we better do it my way.”

Emotional abuse

This is the most important flag, say Jana’s parents, because it is the most common tactic used by perpetrators. “You’re so lucky you have me because no one else would want you.”


Possessiveness as a continued pattern in the perpetrator’s behavior should be a reason to be alarmed.


“Stalking is much easier these days because you don’t have to follow the person around. You have one of these (shows phone),” Curt says. Now the stalker does not even have to be present in order to harass the victim.

Sexual assault

It might not happen at the beginning, or at least that is the hope, but it is very common for it to happen further in the relationship.

After knowing these main red flags to identify an abusive relationship, it is important that students understand that this can happen to anyone. Let’s talk statistics: Nearly 20 percent of women will be victims of sexual assault during their time in college, as well as six percent of men. Around 52 percent of women in college report knowing a friend who has experienced violent and abusive relationships; 15 percent of men in college campuses will be responsible for this type of accusation in their career; the remaining 85 percent will never harm someone.

Curt explains that we need to stop thinking about the stranger in the bushes and start thinking of the people we surround with on a daily basis.

“If this happened to Jana, who was an expert in the field, it can truly happen to anyone,” Curt says.

Although this issue is still present in our society, there have been changes in higher education to help prevent dating violence from happening. The 1972 title IX, the 1990 Jeanne Clery Act, the Dear Colleague Letter in 2011, Campus saVE, the Dear Colleague Letter 2013 and the White House task force to protect students from sexual assault are just some of the many developments in this area in the last 30 years.

Toward the end of their workshop, Curt addressed a very important and often neglected audience: males.

“There are males who are victims, but the vast majority are females. We own that because it is a man’s problem before it is a woman’s problem,” Curt says.

Every two minutes someone is assaulted in the U.S., showing that rape culture is evident everywhere. Curt discussed with our students some of the more common reasons as to why men are abusive toward women. They see women as property, they use power and control as an acceptable part of manhood, some have not dealt with their own memories of abuse or violence and most of them are not challenged, instead their buddies cover for them through the “bro code.”

“When I talk to athletes on college campuses, I tell them ‘my remaining daughter is not your property, my grandchildren are not either, your mom is not your property nor is your sister,’” Curt says. “You are not responsible for what has happened to you, but you are responsible for how you deal with it: Don’t let that define you,” he concludes.

What you can do

Christie says there are three steps to take action on this issue, both individually and as a group.

  1. Don’t be violent.
  2. Be a role model for positive behaviors.
  3. Be an active bystander: Don’t reinforce stereotypes or rape culture.


If you or your friends need assistance, please use any of the following resources to seek help.

Willow Domestic Violence Center 24-hour hotline 1-800-770-3030.

A Care Center advocate available on campus every Wednesday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. They specialize on sexual violence and sexual assault, as well as they offer court advocacy, free counseling and therapy.

Donna Washington, office located on the bottom floor of the Ward Science Hall, available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Jana’s parents had one final statement for our students reading The Campus: “All of us can play some role to reduce this problem. Help a friend or intervene, those are all helpful to even counter rape culture.”

It is necessary to lose the stigma, so let’s have a conversation!

Photo courtesy of 


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