Voices Against Violence hosts healthy relationships rally

Mikaela Cannizzo

Students navigated components of healthy relationships at a nautical-themed rally hosted by Voices Against Violence on Thursday afternoon.

The rally, part of Relationship Violence Prevention Month, encouraged students to respond to questions about topics such as consent and effective communication. 

Erin Burrows, prevention and outreach specialist for Voices Against Violence, said she wants to stop violence before it occurs by facilitating a community-wide conversation on the issue.

“We are creating a culture where people can identify for themselves when they’re in a relationship that might be abusive or harmful,” Burrows said. “We landed on this idea of waves [for the rally theme] ­— in every relationship there are these natural peaks and valleys of what happens in that relationship.”

Health and society junior Tori Salinas said she thinks it is important to recognize red flags such as persistent calling and texting from a partner, or wearing oversized clothing to hide bruises that might indicate unhealthy relationships. 

“[The rally] helps foster an environment in which we hold each other accountable and that students understand there are other students wanting to help,” Salinas said.

According to the American Association of Universities sexual assault survey, 18.5 percent of female undergraduates and 5 percent of male undergraduates at UT surveyed reported being victims of sexual assault. Burrows said she wants to use the rally and other events to promote awareness and catalyze a conversation among students. 

Jordan Wilk, English senior and volunteer at the rally, said she promotes awareness among students on how to maintain healthy relationships, even if they have not experienced a form of relationship violence.

“I think even if someone doesn’t have personal experience, it’s really important that we know how to navigate healthy relationships so we can be supportive for our friends, family and people in our life,” Wilk said.

While Burrows said the focus of violence prevention discussions are aimed at relationships within the contexts of dating, she also said fostering healthy relationships with roommates, friends and family are important too.

“A lot of these skills and ideas are applicable no matter what kind of relationship you’re thinking about,” Burrows said. “This information can be applied to increase your connectivity with any of these people in your life.”