Teaching Empathy: Using Dramatic Narrative to Understand Domestic Violence
Family & Intimate Partner Violence Quarterly, Volume 07, Number 04, Spring 2015 , pp.331-350
22 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2014 Last revised: 7 Feb 2020
Date Written: August 1, 2014
The 2003 call of the ABA for teachers to incorporate domestic violence into the law school curricula remains gravely important today. Domestic violence intersects many areas — from family law, to torts, to criminal law. Along with sexual assault, it is one of the most difficult subjects to teach. Students, like the general public, find it hard to comprehend why a person batters, or why a victim stays with the batterer. While students may learn about domestic violence from case law and scholarly excerpts, the best lessons may be learned through narratives, which provide a window into the reasons for battering and the multi-faceted reasons a victim stays with a batterer. In this article, I describe a teaching approach that incorporates narratives by the award-winning, multi-racial writer, Ai (1947-2010). This valuable approach offers a picture of domestic violence that is more compelling than that of casebooks or statistics, and provides students — as future lawyers — with the ability to respond to clients experiencing domestic violence with greater empathy and understanding.
Keywords: domestic violence, poetry, Ai, narrative
JEL Classification: K19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation