Soldiers walk ‘In Her Shoes,’ test domestic violence

| October 10, 2014 | 0 Comments
Staff Sgt. Gary Wilkinson of the 715th MI Bn. plays the role of a domestic violence victim during an In Her Shoes simulation. Each time his character was abused, he had to place another band-aid on his face.

Staff Sgt. Gary Wilkinson of the 715th MI Bn. plays the role of a domestic violence victim during an In Her Shoes simulation. Each time his character was abused, he had to place another band-aid on his face.

Lucy Trinh moved from Vietnam to the U.S. when she was 16.
She met the love of her life, Steve, when he came into the flower shop where she worked.
He began routinely stopping by the shop and eventually asked Lucy to go out for dinner. After a few months, she moved in with Steve and became pregnant.
That’s when everything changed.
Steve began berating her, abusing her and telling her that nothing she did was ever right. Lucy feared for her son, Sam’s, safety.
One day, Steve accused Lucy of flirting with the plumber. He yanked her by her hair, dragged her outside and continued to slap her until he eventually drove away.  
To protect Sam, Lucy moved into a shelter. It was safe, but Sam missed his friends, his school and his dad. This broke Lucy’s heart, and she decided to give Steve another chance.
One evening, months later, she returned home from her job and heard screams coming from inside. She ran into the house and found Sam curled up in a ball as his dad repeatedly kicked him.  
When the police came, they arrested Steve and took Sam away, accusing Lucy of failure to protect her son. She didn’t know where to go next.

Story and photos by
Gabriele Chapman
U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Lucy is not real. She’s a character in a simulation called “In Her Shoes,” created through “true life” experiences of abused women.

It was designed to help participants understand the experiences of a victim over many years. The goals are to increase awareness of their struggles, to show that domestic violence involves the entire community and to emphasize that everyone plays a role in ending domestic violence.

One unit on Schofield Barracks, the 715th Military Intelligence Battalion, recently took an active role in domestic violence prevention by requiring every new Soldier to participate in the simulation. Depending upon the instructor and the number of Soldiers, they discussed the scenarios or actually walked through the simulation.

Role playing. After they chose their character, some participants received dolls to hold and bags of clothes to drag around. Each team began at the Abuse Happens Station, where Soldiers put band-aids on their faces, signifying the first incident of abuse. At that point, they read the next scenario card. They had to choose between visiting Family, Calling a Shelter or Going to Court.

Spc. Amberly Mejia and Spc. David Trang, both of the 715th MI Bn., enjoy brownies at the Friends and Family Station during the simulation.

Spc. Amberly Mejia and Spc. David Trang, both of the 715th MI Bn., enjoy brownies at the Friends and Family Station during the simulation.

If the team chose Family, they walked to that station and read the next scenario card. If they choose Shelter, they had to roll a coin. “Heads” meant a person answered the phone when they called; “tails” meant they got a busy signal. They kept flipping the coin until a person finally answered.

At that point, the team read another situation card, and they chose their next course of action, such as to “forgive and forget,” which meant they returned home, usually resulting in more abuse and another band-aid.
Other choices included Clergy, Court, Child Protective Service, Housing, Job, Domestic Violence advocates, Mental Health and the Police.

At the end, teams gathered and discussed their scenarios and different choices they could have made. While many believed the topic was not applicable in their own lives, anyone could benefit from the training, because a Soldier, neighbor or friend may need their help one day.

By walking “In Her Shoes,” they will be able to empathize with these victims.
(Editor’s note: Chapman is a social services educator at the Family Advocacy Program, Army Community Service; Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation; U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii.)

Visit the Domestic Violence Awareness table during October at Fort Shafter and Schofield Barracks.

Visit the Domestic Violence Awareness table during October at Fort Shafter and Schofield Barracks.

Domestic Violence Awareness Events
Attend the Food Drive/Information Table:
•Oct. 14, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Fort Shafter PX Market or
•Oct. 17, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Schofield Commissary.
Participate in the 10K Fun Run/Walk:
•Oct. 24, 6:30-8:30 a.m., Schofield ACS Building.
Register at Army Community Service, 656-4227.

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Category: Community, SHARP, Training

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