Monday, March 16, 2009

Domestic Violence and Spanish Community Service Learning

by Ann Abbott
The unsettling news about Rihanna and Chris Brown have brought domestic abuse to the attention of all, especially young people. It's upsetting to see the news items that show that some young people blame Rihanna. And it's upsetting to see that even today, there are many misunderstandings about domestic abuse and its victims.

On the other hand, this celebrity case has pushed this issue to the forefront, and it is, as they say, a teachable moment. I've seen several very informative article about abouse among teen couples, and about the long-term effects on women who survive domestic abuse.

A Woman's Place (the woman's shelter program within the umbrella organization of A Woman's Fund) is one of our community partners. When we first met, the counselors there told me that when Latinas came to the shelter, many of them would just turn around and leave because no one spoke Spanish. Language, culture, access, legal status, these are all issues that Latinas have to consider on top of all the other things all domestic abuse victims must face.

Although just a few of our students work at A Woman's Place, I plan to create a lesson plan about domestic violence for our Spanish in the Community course. Students need the language and cultural knowledge to be able to work effectively at A Woman's Place. And those who don't work there can learn about how to spot the warning signs in whatever organization they work in.

The Rihanna case shatters many of the old stereotypes of domestic violence that still exist around race, class and age. It provides (unfortunatley) a teachable moment for our Spanish community service learning students as well.

Here are some resources that I'll be pulling from to write the lesson plan:

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