Mini-Lesson for Into the Light
Mini-Lesson for Into the Light
Themes: Identity, sexuality, body image, healthy relationships, family diversity
Recommended Ages: 15-17
Keywords/Topics: Emotional and intimate life, equal relationships, conjugal violence, intimate partner violence, consent
Overarching Question: What is the difference between intimate partner violence and a domestic squabble?
Warning: This may be a delicate subject for children under 14. Intimate partner violence is a sensitive topic and should be approached cautiously in the classroom. Teachers should gauge their classes and determine the best way to go about it. One might, for example, have discussions in mixed or single-gendered groups. In either case, certain students may relate to the examples presented, and it is imperative to have a list of easily available and confidential resources at hand. Having a social worker in the classroom is strongly recommended. Notify the entire teaching staff that the activities are being held so that students who come to a realization as a result can receive assistance.
Educational Synopsis: This mini-lesson gives students an opportunity to examine various types of intimate partner violence. It allows them to identify objectionable behaviours and discuss positive ways of experiencing emotional and sexual intimacy. Before starting, take an anonymous poll of whether the students want to have discussions in mixed or single-gender groups. Work with the class to create a charter of respect, have a discussion about the students’ perceptions of intimate partner violence or abuse in intimate relationships. How do they view equal, balanced relationships? What is acceptable and what is not? What is a violent act and what is not?
It is normal for couples to have different convictions or personal beliefs, and these differences may occasionally be expressed with anger and frustration. Ask the students to write down, in their own words, how such differences might be expressed in a healthy intimate relationship.
Then explain that intimate partner violence is when one partner intentionally attacks the other to impose their will. Such attacks can take various forms, not all of which are physical, such as through social media or religion.
Name the different types of abuse (physical, psychological, control, sexual, economic, verbal) and ask the students to list the actions that characterize these forms of abuse.
Explain to the students that the aggressor is always responsible for their actions, and that, aside from legitimate defence, no situation can justify the use of violence. Explain that people who have never witnessed or suffered from intimate partner violence often have prejudices against the victims. Have the students list some of these prejudices.
Example: The victim… asked for it, doesn’t want to leave, is exaggerating, lacks self-esteem.
Take the time to thoroughly explain the cycle of abuse. Make use of these definitions.
Start a discussion with the students.
Referring to the cycle of abuse, ask them to explain how they think the abuser ensures that their victim will not leave. How does the cycle of abuse make victims feel? Then ask the students if they think that someone can suffer from abuse without realizing it.
Talk to the students about the victim’s timing. It may take time for a victim to realize they are being abused or to be ready to end an abusive relationship. Abusers seek to isolate victims from their family and friends. Honeymoon periods are also part of an insidious form of control. Victims feel shame and fear of being judged by others. Victims end up in survival mode, a part of which may be denial. Fear of retaliation also weighs heavily in the balance. Abuse does not necessarily stop after the separation.
One must be able to recognize the signs of abuse in order to denounce it, protect oneself, protect others, and have balanced and fulfilling emotional and intimate relationships. This means being vigilant and responsive to what is happening in one’s own relationships and those of others. It is important to remain in a caregiving position, to be available, and not to judge. Suggest possible solutions to victims rather than forcing them or telling them what to do.
Encourage the students to pay special attention to the emotions they are feeling, to ask themselves whether their intimate relationships are balanced and, when in doubt, to seek advice from a family member or educator.
Remind students that all derogatory comments about an intimate partner’s physical appearance are a form of abuse that should not be taken lightly. Ask them to name ways that someone might show, directly or indirectly, their desire to control their intimate partner’s body image. Talk to students about body image. Examine the consequences of beauty standards conveyed in the media on self-esteem. Deconstruct stereotypes about housewives and their lack of status, along with stereotypes surrounding victims and abusers. Take the time to stress that there are different types of oppression and that gender-based oppression is akin to oppression based on skin colour, the patriarchy, and colonialism.
Intimate partner violence has important impacts on the victim’s physical and psychological health. Ask students to identify some of these consequences and ways to remedy them.
Although victims of abuse may have many similarities, each has a unique story. It is important to avoid generalizing and consider all of the factors that will allow the person to heal.
Explain to the students that someone who does not get sexual consent from a person with whom they are engaging in sexual activity is subject to prosecution. Then ask them to describe, in their own words, their conception of sexual consent.
Lead a discussion using these questions:
- What are the ways that consent can be expressed?
- What are the signs of non-consent?
- A person must be conscious and clear-headed to give consent. What are some situations where a person is not in a position to give consent?
- Once a person has given their consent, can they change their mind?
Reciprocity (consent) in sexual activities is essential for a balanced love life. Any pressure to gain consent is the same as sexual abuse, and “no means no.” It is also vital to be attentive to non-verbal signs. If in doubt, ask clearly.
Taking Action: Raising our Awareness
Have the students do research on the various manifestations of abuse and assault in an intimate relationship. They should also examine the signs and consequences of such abuse. Once they have completed their research, have them present their results in a medium of their choice (brochure, poster, mural, digital narrative, TikTok, etc.,) aimed at their peers. The goal is to raise awareness of the issue of abuse in intimate relationships and of the consequences of refusing to speak out, and to offer models of healthy and balanced intimate relationships. Students should feel free to use their creativity and anything they have learn in arts classes to develop their public service announcement.
List of resources
Kids Help Phone
General distress hotline for children and youth, including those who may be experiencing or using violence.
Assaulted Women’s Helpline
Toll-free support hotline for women who have experienced gender-based violence.
Talk 4 Healing
Service languages: Ojibway, Oji-Cree, Cree, English, French
Provides 24/7 culturally sensitive counselling, advice and support to Indigenous women.
Directory of emergency and transitional shelter and housing services across Canada for women experiencing gender-based violence.
This mini-lesson is the result of close collaboration between the following consultants and NFB staff. Special thanks to Nathalie Perreault, a consultant in alternative distribution and impact research, for her community involvement and her recommendations.
Originally from Burundi, Aline Nkurikiye came to Quebec when she was a teenager. She studied French language education at the University of Montréal. She currently teaches French at Saint-Luc high school in Montreal.
Intervention Liaison and Support Officer – Alliance des maisons d’hébergement de 2e étape pour femmes et enfants victimes de violence conjugale
Mélisande Dorion-Laurendeau has been a development officer and head of intervention at the Alliance des maisons d’hébergement de 2e étape pour femmes et enfants victimes de violence conjugale since January 2018. A social work technician by training, she specializes in interventions with women who are victims of domestic violence. She was a psychosocial worker in a second-stage home for 10 years.
Administration coordinator – Alliance des maisons d’hébergement de 2e étape pour femmes et enfants victimes de violence conjugale
Maud Pontel earned a degree in education at the University of Paris 8 and then immigrated to Quebec in 2001 where she obtained a master’s degree in social work at the Université du Québec. Her academic and professional background has led her to work in shelters for women who were victims of domestic violence as well as in several organizations working with immigrants.
Political Analysis and Communication Coordinator – Fédération des maisons d’hébergement pour femmes
A political scientist and lawyer by training, Olga Houde is a coordinator of political analysis and communication at the Fédération des maisons d’hébergement pour femmes. She has been working in the human rights field for 10 years and has contributed to capacity-building projects for police forces and magistrates. Today, she accompanies and represents abused women in their immigration efforts.
Pour lire cet article en français, cliquez ici.
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