Teaching Empathy: Using Dramatic Narrative to Understand Domestic Violence

Family & Intimate Partner Violence Quarterly, Volume 07, Number 04, Spring 2015 , pp.331-350

Texas A&M University School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 16-66

22 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2014 Last revised: 7 Nov 2016

See all articles by Susan Ayres

Susan Ayres

Texas A&M University School of Law

Date Written: August 1, 2014

Abstract

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

Ayres, Susan, Teaching Empathy: Using Dramatic Narrative to Understand Domestic Violence (August 1, 2014). Family & Intimate Partner Violence Quarterly, Volume 07, Number 04, Spring 2015 , pp.331-350; Texas A&M University School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 16-66. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2502913 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2502913

Susan Ayres (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University School of Law ( email )

1515 Commerce St.
Fort Worth, TX 76102
United States

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