This past Tuesday, March 19th, the Rachel Coalition visited Millburn High School for a Peer Leader pilot program. This organization has specialized programs to break the cycle of domestic abuse, including a 24-hour hotline, information services, individual therapy, community education, and more.
The idea was to take participants through a sort of “choose your own adventure” game where everyone would have the opportunity to walk in the shoes of someone in an abusive relationship. And all the people whose lives we had the chance to follow were based on real people. Surprisingly, through simple descriptions, the person whose life I was in a way experiencing, became very real. I was invested in her situation, as if she were a real person. I won’t spoil the experience, but I will say it was shocking. I could never before have imagined what it was like to be in an abusive relationship, and I still truly can’t. What I can understand is at least the impossibility of making choices when every possibility seems to lead back to being caught up in the abuse.
Education on serious matters, like domestic abuse, has unfortunately become a joke in schools. No one ever takes the lesson seriously, and the blame doesn’t necessarily fall on the students or teachers individually. The problem is that it’s impossible to ever fully understand the severity of these situations without living through them. The Rachel Coalition’s program was able to grant the slightest degree of awareness through making you the one in trouble, not some distant statistic. I cared about domestic abuse more than I ever cared before.
My concern about the problem used to be distant, the kind of concern you have just because you know something is wrong. The concern I have now is far deeper. I’m truly worried about the state of our law enforcement and how anyone can escape the chains of domestic abuse. And I know this kind of investment in something I have been lucky enough to never experience could not be created without this highly effective program.
While Peer Leaders are still in the process of possibly developing this program for MHS health classes, I would encourage anyone to visit Rachel Coalition’s website and attend one of their sessions. Your perspective on what seems to be a generally understood issue will be broadened for the better.