Role-playing sheds light on violence against teens

EVERETT — A program aimed at ending the loss of young lives to domestic violence now is available for use by local teens.

The program, “In Their Shoes,” was created in response to the death of Dayna Fure, a Stanwood teen who was gunned down by her ex-boyfriend in 2004.

“In Their Shoes” is a role- playing activity that walks participants through domestic-violence relationships through the eyes of the young people involved.

The original version was aimed at adults who work with teens. It launched in 2010 at Stanwood High School and has since been used all over the U.S. and Canada.

Fure’s story is included among the scenarios. Her family helped fund “In Their Shoes” in hopes of the program making a difference in the lives of other victims.

Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County now is working on incorporating the teen version into the courses they offer to local schools, Executive Director Vicci Hilty said.

“It is on the hot list,” she said.

Hilty ran a test of the teen version at a recent conference with school resource officers, she said.

“Putting themselves in the position of these youngsters was really enlightening for them and for me,” she said.

The teen version is designed to work in a classroom setting, and takes less than an hour, said Kelly Starr, a spokeswoman for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence. It’s aimed at people in middle and high school.

“People just responded so well to this format with starting these kinds of conversations,” she said.

Outreach to young people remains one of Domestic Violence Services’ primary goals, Hilty said.

According to state data, nearly 1 in 10 domestic-violence homicide victims in Washington were younger than 21 when they were killed.

Almost half of them had ended the relationship or were trying to end it when they were killed, Hilty said.

“When we see staggering numbers like this, we have got to get in and reach young people and help them understand how much easier it is when you recognize at the onset that a relationship is maybe not the one for you to be in, that’s it not a healthy relationship,” she said.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

Where to get help

If you or someone you know needs help regarding domestic violence, contact the Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County hotline at 425-25-ABUSE, or 425-252-2873. The hotline is free and confidential.

Classes are available for teens to learn about safe dates and healthy relationships. For more information, call 425-345-4668.

If you’re interested in participating in “In Their Shoes,” contact your local domestic violence advocacy program or go to www.wscadv.org.

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