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A New Way to Teach Domestic Violence Awareness

Two experts in the field turn a weighty topic into a board game

  • March 02, 2016
  • By domesticshelters.org
A New Way to Teach Domestic Violence Awareness

Domestic violence can be a heavy and complex topic to digest, and many people struggle to fully comprehend the multilayered dynamics that accompany it. To make it easier to understand, a pair of collaborators decided to make it into a game. A board game, to be precise, appropriately called OUTrage, released last August.

Stephanie Angelo, author and national domestic violence consultant, whose company trains companies how to handle workplace violence, created the game with Carl Mangold, licensed social worker and a fellow domestic violence advocate. Aimed at training professionals and non-professionals alike, OUTrage helps people empathize with what victims of domestic violence may experience. One advocate, Doreen Nicholas, training coordinator with the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, says using OUTrage during training helps her staff step into the shoes of a survivor.

“One thing people often don’t understand is how hard it is to leave an abusive partner. When you’re trying to leave is when the abuse gets worse. It [the game] really lays that out well and gives people a different perspective.”

We asked Angelo to talk a little bit more about how OUTrage works.

DomesticShelters.org: Why did you want to make a game about domestic violence?

Angelo: There was really nothing on the market to learn about domestic violence in this way. With our game, you can learn about the dynamics of abuse in a way that’s non-threatening. It gets people to talk about domestic violence, think about the impact their choices have on other people, and gets them to really look at the bigger picture.

DS.org: How do you play it?

A: There are five different characters: the abuser/pit bull and the abuser/cobra; the adult victim, the child victim and the ‘other person,’ who might be a friend, relative, social worker or clergy person; someone not in the relationship who has an outside effect on the situation.

First, you’ll roll the dice, and then you’ll pick up a card that will tell you what happens to your character and move forward or backward depending on what the card says. Everything on the cards is real life; it comes from actual situations that I’ve encountered. There are good things that happen with every character and there are negative things. Good might be completing counseling or finding an advocate. Negative things include going to jail, even dying. There’s no stopping point; you end when the players determine the game ends, say, after 20 or 40 minutes. The roles rotate so each player or team gets a chance to be each character. At the end of the game, there’s a debriefing sheet that helps you have a conversation about what happened.

DS.org: Who can benefit from playing the game?

A: It can be used in offender treatment groups, domestic abuse shelters, individual and family counseling settings, and to help teach domestic violence advocates and social workers about the way abusers and victims behave. Survivors also play it so they can learn more about the dynamics of their situation. It can also be played by families and in school settings; we recommend 9th grade and above as it might not be appropriate for younger children. But if the family itself is having some issues with domestic violence, this could be a part of family therapy. It can help them understand what is going on in their lives and can open a dialogue.

To learn more about the game, or to purchase it for your organization, visit thegamecrafter.com