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Supporting critical thinking, learning and victim-defined advocacy...

What to Call a Person who Batters

Download this Exercise.

Overview: This exercise provides an opportunity to explore how the language we use about a victim’s partner impacts our work.

Time Needed:

  • Thirty minutes to an hour to discuss and frame the purpose of the activity.
  • One week to try using different language when referring to a victim’s partner.
  • Thirty minutes to an hour to debrief advocates experience.

Leader preparation/instructions: Be prepared to talk with staff about the purpose of the exercise.


    • Ask everyone for the entire week to only refer to a victim’s partner:
      • By his/her first name
      • As partner/ex- partner
      • The word each victim uses to describe her partner/ex-partner

Words to avoid using include: batterer, your batterer, abuser, your abuser, perpetrator, or offender.

  • During your follow up meeting ask everyone to reflect on and respond to the following questions:
    • How did it feel to use these terms? Was it different from your usual practice?
    • Was it challenging? If so, why?
    • If you work with individual victims, how did victims respond to that use of language? If this language was a change for you, how did it change your advocacy with victims?
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