Lynn Hoare

Art history junior Kaila Schedeen places a candle down as part of a candlelight vigil held in support of people impacted by sexual violence at Take Back the Night on Wednesday night. The event, hosted by Voices Against Violence, promoted awareness for the negative effects of rape culture, giving allies and survivors a chance to connect with others and share their stories.

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

In a release of anger, a sudden uproar from a crowd of students sounded through the RecSports Center as part of Take Back the Night, an annual event aimed to raise awareness about the negative effects of rape culture.

Take Back the Night is an international event first hosted in the 1970s and introduced to the UT campus more than a decade ago. This year’s campus event took place Wednesday night at the RecSports Center and featured performances from many artists, including Manifest Electric, poet Karen Duke and Theatre for Dialogue

Lynn Hoare, who is a social work lecturer and Theatre for Dialogue specialist for Voices Against Violence, said the event gives victims and survivors the chance to claim their stories and connect with other people who are also survivors of sexual violence.  

“The speak-out is kind of the main event and the purpose of that is to give survivors of sexual violence an opportunity to reclaim the night, which is when we often think of sexual violence occurring, reclaim their bodies and to claim their story in a public way,” Hoare said.

Hoare said the event took place on the Main Mall in previous years but was relocated due to inclement weather. 

According to Jane Bost, associate director for the Counseling and Mental Health Center, Take Back the Night is an international event during Sexual Assault Awareness Month and is supported by a community of partners including SafePlace, Hope Alliance and other diverse organizations.

“A lot of times this is perceived as a women’s issue, and it’s not just a women’s issue,” Bost said. “While a high percentage of survivors are women, male survivors are also affected and we look at men as our allies. We want to work together in prevention with men.”

Erin Burrows, prevention outreach specialist for Voices Against Violence, said the event is open for survivors to share what they are willing to in a safe community.

“It’s an event to gather together as a community and to give space for people to share their stories,” Burrows said. “It’s so rare in our society that we have honest conversations about sexual violence despite the fact that it is a national epidemic.”

Printed on Thursday, April 4, 2013 as: Advocating consent 

A program aimed at combatting sexual violence taught students Thursday that getting consent is sexy.

Voices Against Violence Theatre for Dialogue acted out real-life scenarios that demonstrated the difficulty of interpreting consent in sexual situations and examined how consent is negotiated. Consent was defined as getting permission with a verbal confirmation of what each sexual partner is comfortable with and protection they plan to use.

“We can misinterpret consent. It’s something we should be cautious of,” Plan II freshman Jackson Haenchen said.

The program uses peer educators to create awareness about relationship violence, stalking and sexual violence. One scene the troupe performed showed a couple kissing, then a partner pulling away after more contact was initiated. Haenchen said this scene was a good example of the need to consent.

“When someone revokes consent, it’s tempting to get frustrated, but because of mutual respect you have to respect their prerogative,” Haechen said.

Haenchen attended the event because his fraternity encouraged it, and he said he learned the importance of verbal consent.

Lynn Hoare, Theatre for Dialogue specialist with Voices Against Violence, said statistics for sexual assault crimes are hard to gather, because many victims do not come forward. She said national surveys indicate one in five women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime and 92 percent will know their assaulter. Hoare said alcohol is a factor in 70 percent of assaults.

“We have had disclosure in evaluation sheets that people realize they were sexually assaulted,” Hoare said.

The evaluation questionnaire passed around after the program asked the audience to rate the usefulness of the program. Hoare said the majority of the responses rated it as “useful” or “extremely useful.”

Sidney Williams, troupe member and theatre and dance graduate student, said the program creates a space for consent dialogue to be discussed.

“What if you don’t consent, male or female: how does that impact your college experience or future relationships?” Williams said.

He said talking about consent can be awkward but thinks people benefit from hearing different perspectives and ideas about consent and leave with more awareness.

“That’s the best way to have sex,” Williams said. “Enthusiastically, with clear consent.”

Printed on Friday, November 9, 2012 as: Workshop clarifies consent 

Consent in sexual situations can be complicated to navigate, especially for undergraduate students who may not have much experience with physical intimacy.

Consent requires both parties in a sexual encounter give explicit permission for a particular sex act to take place, students learned during a presentation Monday called “Get Sexy. Get Consent.” Voices Against Violence, a program of the Counseling and Mental Health Center, hosted the performance, where actors demonstrated cases in which sexual consent might become an issue.

For example, a one-night stand in which partners have only just met might result in intentions becoming unclear, a situation that could be dangerous if both partners are unable to openly discuss their consent.

Jane Morgan Bost, Counseling and Mental Health Center associate director, said she created the Voices Against Violence program because people don’t typically discuss the issue of consent in an open manner.

“People in general find it very difficult to really address and it’s at the heart of a lot of interpersonal violence,” she said.

In order for there to be consent, both partners must be able, both physically and emotionally, to directly express their comfortability with sexual activity taking place without pressure from their partner. This includes not only intercourse, but also situations such as when one person wishes to practice safe sex while their partner does not. Consent to one type of activity does not guarantee consent to others, and participants must understand their own boundaries before being put into sexually charged situations as well as know how to clearly articulate those boundaries.

Lynn Hoare, Theater for Dialogue specialist for Voices Against Violence, created the “Get Sexy. Get Consent.” program.

She said the program is targeted at younger college students because of their lack of exposure to the issue.

“It’s really [targeted] at all undergraduate levels,” Hoare said. “Students often come to college without any opportunity to have honest conversations about sex, and this gives them a chance to talk about it honestly and hear other people talk about it honestly in a low-stake environment without actually being in the moment.”

Students should feel comfortable discussing their needs in a sexual relationship, said Meghna Joy, biology freshman and actress in the “Get Sexy. Get Consent.” program.

“People just need to be okay with talking about it,” Joy said. “In sexual situations where other people get pressured, they don’t want to seem un-cool or seem like a prude and so they need to know it’s okay to say no, and it’s okay to state what you want and [your partner] should be okay with it too.”

Bost said she hopes to bring about real change on UT campus with upcoming performances of “Get Sexy. Get Consent.”

“Our hope is that this will be something for both men and women that will make a difference in changing behaviors and attitudes,” Bost said. “We want to provide the skills they need to start conversations around [consent] and creating healthy relationships.”