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

Lucy Bell, student photographer and journalist

According to a director of the Branches Domestic Violence Shelter, empathy exercises offer domestic violence advocates the opportunity to step into the situation of a survivor practically and allow them to experience the unexpected hardships that victims face.

The “In Their Shoes” event, hosted by Branches Domestic Violence Shelter and Marshall University’s Violence Prevention and Response Program, gave others a chance to learn about the lives of victims of domestic violence in through a simulation in which participants walk 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 reality, as all of these scenarios demonstrate, you can experience domestic violence in different ways. »

Participants were given a script and moved through stations that show the different options or institutions victims may have to use, such as social or legal services. This simulation emphasized the economic cost to victims as well as the need 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, making the involvement of programs like the Office of Violence Prevention and events like “In Their Place” vital for students caught in violent situations, according to the 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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