Victim Witness Speaker: Gaining Empathy
Today I’ve invited a person here to speak about his/her experiences in a domestically violent
relationship. I ask you to listen to this person non-defensively and non-judgmentally. Just hear what
he/she says and try to put yourself in his/her shoes. That’s what empathy means – to put yourself in
another person’s shoes so you can better understand how that person thinks and feels.
You have to become interested in others in order to develop empathy. So here are a few questions to
think about while listening to the speaker.
DURING A VIOLENT EPISODE:
• What was he/she feeling (Scared, terrified, angry, hurt, sad …)?
• What was he/she thinking (How to get away, wanting to fight back, making her point…)?
• What did he/she do (Fight, flight, freeze…) and why did she do that?
RIGHT AFTER A VIOLENT EPISODE:
• Why did he/she or didn’t he/ she call 911?
• How did he/she feel?
• What effects did the episode have on his/her love for her partner? For his/her trust of him?
• What kept him/her in the relationship even though he/she was the recipient of violence?
• What finally caused this person to leave the relationship for good? (If he or she did leave)
• How long did it take before he/ she began to feel safe (if ever)?
• What effects has this chapter in his/her life had on his/her self-worth and sense of self?
• QUESTIONS FOR YOU:
• What would you think and feel if you were slapped, pushed around, restrained, burned, cut, beaten
or raped by someone who said they loved you?
• Have you ever been in a relationship with someone you were afraid of (Maybe when you were
growing up)? What was that like? How was that like this speaker’s experience? How was it different?