If your partner starts to cry, you should probably stop talking, biochemistry junior Kimi Perez said in a discussion about respecting boundaries in relationships.
The Organization of Women Looking for Sisterhood held an interactive workshop to discuss what constituted healthy and unhealthy relationships on Thursday. The organization, also known as OWLS, is an interest group associated with UT Austin’s chapter of Chi Upsilon Sigma National Latin Sorority Inc.
The workshop was facilitated by Maisha Barrett, community education training specialist at SAFE Austin. Barrett discussed redflags that would be indicative of unhealthy and abusive relationships such as a sudden change in appearance or constantly being checked up on.
“Some couples love texting each other all day,” Barrett said. “The way I would differentiate it is that the person who is being abused has fear. So you’re out with them, their partner calls them and they jump, because they know if they don’t answer that call immediately they’re going to be in trouble.”
Barrett said a healthy and equal relationship was based on principles of trust, support, respect and shared responsibility. Erin Beckworth, community chair of OWLS and UT’s Chi Upsilon Sigma said working on the emotional, serious aspects of relationships can be challenging.
“With people … who may not have been taught to carry emotional labor, it’s hard to convey to them how much more of a burden it is,” said Beckworth, Russian studies and government senior. “It’s hard to say, ‘I need you to carry some of me, this emotional invisible thing that doesn’t make any sense.’”
The sorority is in the process of reestablishing itself on campus after it died down in 2011. OWLS consists of Latina students hoping to pledge in the Spring of 2018 and revive the sorority. Perez, president of UT’s Chi Upsilon Sigma, said workshops about relationships and abuse provided support to UT students.
“As a survivor of abusive relationships, I can say that it is important for students to know that UT is meant to be a safe place,” Perez said. “The best resource out there out there is SAFE Austin and the (Counseling and Mental Health Center) … if (survivors) need someone to go with them, they can talk to anyone of us … we are here to help and support.”
SAFE Austin is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence and abuse. They offer free sexual assault forensic exams and other resources to survivors of sexual assault.