In the United States, approximately 20 people per minute experience domestic violence. As of 2015, the estimated annual cost of domestic violence is 8.3 billion dollars. Victims encounter multiple barriers to accessing help, but one imposing factor is the fear of stigma attached to domestic violence (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 2015). This project investigates the impact of a domestic violence simulation, In Her Shoes: Living with Domestic Violence, on 52 pre-professional Brigham Young University students. In Her Shoes was designed by the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence in 1999. It enables participants to practice living under domestic abuse and explore problem-solving strategies. Adelman, Rosenberg, and Hobart (2016) agree that this simulation challenges participants' stereotypes about battered women, enabling them to learn about the complexities of domestic violence from the inside out (p. 6).
Using a mixed-methods study model, we assessed the effectiveness of the simulation on increasing students' awareness of personal prejudgments of domestic violence victims. Introducing students to their own prejudgments and inviting them to simulate the life of a different population fosters empathy. This in turn enhances future practice (Noone, Sideras, Gubrud-Howe, Voss, & Matthews, 2012; Sawin, Mast, Sessoms, & Fulcher, 2016; Sideras, McKenzie,Noone, Kieckmann, & Allen , 2015).
The participants are pre-dental, pre-medical, pre-nursing, and pre-social work students. Their future careers will involve considerable exposure to domestic violence. A health care professional's willingness and ability to provide assistance is molded by prejudgments of domestic violence victims (Evans & Feder, 2015). We hypothesize that this simulation will aid the participating students in identifying previously unknown stigmatic thinking of domestic violence victims.