“In Their Shoes” builds empathy for victims of domestic violence – The Parthenon

Empathy exercises allow domestic violence advocates to step into a survivor’s situation and experience the unexpected hardships victims face, according to a director of the Branches Domestic Violence Shelter.

The “In Their Shoes” event, hosted last week by Branches Domestic Violence Shelter and Marshall University’s Violence Prevention and Response Program, gave others the opportunity to learn more about life victims of domestic violence through a simulation in which participants walked through a scenario of a real victim.

“We call it an exercise in empathy because it really is so powerful and perspective-changing,” said Sara Blevins, director of branch development. “We tend to take an idea of ​​what we think is domestic violence and keep it in this very structured box. But in fact, as all of these scenarios demonstrate, you can experience domestic violence in different ways. »

Participants were given a script and moved through stations that showed different options or institutions victims may have to use, such as social or legal services. This simulation focused on the economic cost of victims and the struggle to ensure the physical safety of their children.

Domestic violence is often referred to as gender-based violence because it disproportionately affects women, with women between the ages of 18 and 32 being most at risk, according to Blevins.

College students are not exempt from these statistics, however, which makes participation in programs like the Office for Violence Prevention and events like “In Their Shoes” vital for students caught in violent situations, said program coordinator Alyssa Hager.

“I always just want to remind students that they have resources,” Hager said. “We can help students navigate all kinds of situations, whether it’s sexual violence, interpersonal violence or domestic violence. I think the most important thing is for students to know that we are a resource for survivors on campus, and that they are not alone.


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