Why don’t they teach us about relationships involving domestic violence in school? They teach us the dangers of drugs and sex, but leave out the dangers of staying with someone who is emotionally, psychologically and/or physically abusive? Teach children the warning signs of abuse!

They did at my school. They skipped over all the stuff about STIs because “you’re all gonna wait til marriage and have only one partner anyway” basically.

I’m curious what the common experiences with this are.

I got both STI stuff and domestic violence covered, and the STI/contraception stuff was even factual and useful. The “dangers of drugs” stuff was manipulative (they told us ecstasy puts holes in your brain, is that myth still kicking?), but not DARE level bad. The domestic violence stuff even covered financial control and other things beyond Lifetime stereotypes, and we even had somebody from a women’s shelter come talk about abuse.

The only real issue was that the abuse stuff was stunningly bad despite the scope. We got two versions. 

The one taught by our teacher addressed a wildly inappropriate amount of her personal baggage and relied very heavily on “girls, probably all your boyfriends are abusive” with a weird side of “but you can’t expect better from any guy” to ensure it was damaging to everyone. I think she wanted to be relatable, like when she told the story about her brother-in-law’s crack addiction? But that only works when your problems are actually relatable for your audience…

The one taught by the counselor was respectably factual, non-gendered, and well-meaning, but she was a bit odd and didn’t really know how to teach a class. I think she was trying to help us understand that relationships can involve abusive behaviors without being persistently and one-sidedly abusive, using examples from her life. Which would actually be a great lesson, I think our focus on who’s “an abuser” and therefore irredeemable sometimes leaves victims thinking “but this person has good traits, so the way they treat me must not be abuse”.

But what she ended up saying was that all conflict is abusive and all relationships feature abuse, for instance if you ever raise your voice that’s verbal abuse and if you ever tell your partner you can’t afford something they want that’s financial abuse. The “what does healthy disagreement looks like” part never really arrived, so it just sort of trailed off with “if you’re not a sedated Vulcan you’re an abuser, but that’s ok because we all struggle with being abusers”.

Honestly, it was probably still better than nothing – we at least got some pamphlets and “abuse doesn’t always mean hitting” out of it. But damn, that was a screwed up class.

They gave us basically a textbook for a class that was called ‘citizenship’ that included that stuff, but my school was a religious school so they skipped over the STI stuff.

We got the STI education but basically fuck-all about domestic violence.

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