Authored By; Sarah Martin
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), and although Family Tree has several programs that work with survivors of domestic violence, one of the programs focuses on preventing violence in addition to providing services to those affected. Advocates from Family Tree’s Domestic Violence Outreach Program work with middle and high schools in the surrounding area to provide opportunities for youth to learn more about what a healthy relationship looks like.
There are three workshops offered through this program. The first is Healthy Relationships 101, which is typically only a one-time session. This workshop provides students the opportunity to identify healthy or unhealthy behaviors, understand how to ask for and give consent, draw appropriate boundaries with a partner, and recognize support systems in their life that they could turn to if they were experiencing relationship violence.
The remaining two workshops are from an evidence-based, nationally implemented curriculum called Expect Respect. Both of these workshops meet weekly throughout the length of a semester with additional topics such as: gender mapping, identity and privilege, conflict management, and more.
One of the workshops, the Youth Leadership Development class, aims to recruit students with influence who may be identified as leaders in their school or community. Family Tree Advocates work with these students each week to discuss important topics and help provide the skills needed for them to advocate for others, become active bystanders, and offer support to their peers.
Expect Respect curriculum includes a support group. Students in the group are identified as being high risk, which means that they may have already experienced domestic violence or witnessed it in their homes. Students are encouraged to talk about their experience so they can learn to process them in healthy ways.
Participant feedback from the past year: 97.1% of students identified that they learned skills to develop and maintain healthy relationships and reported an increase of knowledge in identifying unhealthy and healthy behaviors.
94.2% of students identified that they learned strategies to help a friend experiencing violence or abuse.
Typically, these workshops happen in-person and at the school. However, during this last Spring semester advocates worked to modify these in-person activities and discussions so students were able to participate online due to COVID-19 and will continue to offer these programs virtually to schools that are interested.
If you would like to learn more about the Expect Respect curriculum, please click here. If you are interested in having Family Tree’s Domestic Violence Outreach Program facilitate Expect Respect at your school, please contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (303) 463-6321.