Voices Against Violence hosts workshop on relationship boundaries

Savana Dunning

To bring awareness to unhealthy LGBT relationships, UT-Austin Voices Against Violence hosted the first ever “At The Boundaries” workshop.

The workshop included discussions on topics related to sexual violence, relationship violence and stalking. 

Theater and dance senior Bex Orton originally created “At The Boundaries” as a theatre performance for a class with their peers out of the desire to explore issues within LGBT relationships.

Orton then submitted the performance to the Cohen New Works Festival, a biennial, on-campus showcase of new work created by students at UT, and VAV later helped make it into an educational workshop for UT students.

“For me, it was super personal,” Orton said. “It was one of things where I was just craving more conversation about how to be in relationships with people while navigating all these other things in my life.”

The workshop began with icebreakers to discuss different elements of relationships. Orton showed the original 16-minute theatrical piece and had participants discuss the video, citing and reflecting on various elements of how the video related back to relationships. Participants were encouraged to respond to writing prompts and utilize various art supplies to express their thoughts.

Anthropology senior Ashley Carrington said in her experiences, asking for consent has rarely been talked about. 

“It’s just difficult because we’re in the South; we’re Texans; we’re all ‘Southern hospitality.’ We’re not supposed to say no to anything — not even food,” Carrington said.

VAV is an organization which addresses issues of interpersonal violence with a focus toward prevention. It functions both as a student-run advocacy group and a faculty-led resource center where students can talk to counselors and get help with issues related to interpersonal violence, as well as get involved with violence prevention. 

“We know different populations are impacted differently and disproportionately by interpersonal violence,” said Lauren White, VAV’s prevention and outreach specialist. “We usually have these kind of general, what can feel like one-size-fits-all workshops or presentations where we talk about an overview of what interpersonal violence can look like and what resources are available, but that doesn’t really get into the personal and community impacts for different groups.”

“At the Boundaries” is a part of the UT Queer & Trans Student Alliance’s Pride Week Celebration, which is a weeklong series of events dedicated to LGBT issues.