Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Monday, January 22, 2007

Teaching Resources: Teaching Empathy for Victims of Domestic Violence

Many family law profs consider teaching Domestic Violence 101 in the basic family law course a necessity, but find the subject difficult to convey in the limit number of class hours one can devote to the course.  Legal doctrines and trends protecting victims of intimate violence often fall on ears deafened by the insistent question "Why doesn't she just leave?"

Here's a fabulous resource for an experience that students can work through in one hour's class time that will help them to appreciate the barriers victims face in leaving abusive situations.  The simulation requires the students to walk "In Her Shoes" recounting the choices and barriers faced by women in a variety of circumstances.  Students assume and experience the roles of diverse battered women as they seek assistance from a variety of resources (set up as "stations"). Each represents an institution or service that women encounter when they attempt to escape, such as courts, doctors and shelters. Each station may be a resource, or a barrier.

The simulation, which includes instructions for setting up the program and debriefing the students after the experience, can be obtained from the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic VIolence.


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