Stay or Leave

7 May 2021

The J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development at the University of Georgia has collaborated with the Georgia Commission on Family Violence to create an online virtual simulation to replace in-person domestic violence mediation training for lawyers, conflict mediators and anyone who can benefit from learning more about domestic violence. The simulation guides users through an interactive website with different real-time scenarios that lead to different outcomes domestic victims often face.

Given a profile with a limited amount of emotional and financial resources, users decide where to go, what to do and how to make the best decisions for themselves and for those around them. The users have emotional and financial credits to spend on their choices. The simulation illuminates the challenges domestic violence victims face and increases empathy and understanding surrounding the question, why don’t they just leave?

The simulation has five different profiles of domestic violence victims; a 72-year old widow with arthritis, 33-year old newlywed with a daughter with special needs, 28-year old undocumented woman with two children, 46-year old lesbian woman with a dog and a 19-year old male college student. Randomly assigned a profile and a certain number of financial and emotional credits, users decide whether to stay at home, with their abuser, or try to leave. The ultimate goal of the training exercise is not to “win or lose”, but to understand the choices, or lack thereof, with many domestic violence victims.

Typically the training of Stay or Leave is given in-person training, or with the pandemic, training on Zoom, but both options take too much time and effort. The virtual simulation increases the accessibility of training with the same effectiveness as being in-person, lasting no longer than 20 minutes.