Transformative Justice and Teen Dating Violence

This past summer PIAL reached out to the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV). We started our discussion around the “In Their Shoes” teen dating violence simulation. We wanted to learn how PIAL can improve the debriefing portion of the simulation experience to have more impact on the students. As a result, our attention was directed to a novel approach to reducing dating violence. This is called “Transformative Justice and Community Accountability.” This approach highlights that in order to reduce harm, abuse, and violence we need to address it in a non-violent manner. In other words, resources and support for the person causing harm are important. Moreover, it highlights that preventing abuse is a community responsibility. Family, friends, neighbors, and the community need to play an active role in the mission to reduce abuse. 

What does it mean for PIAL? 

PIAL wishes to incorporate the Transformative Justice and Community Accountability approach to the teen dating violence simulation debriefing activities. Specifically, PIAL wants to better understand how to incorporate this in the presentation to the middle and high school students who experience our simulation. Following are some ways we wish to bring this approach to our students. 

The PIAL team plans to:

  1. Use the term “person causing harm” rather than abuser, perpetrator.
  2. Avoid shaming or making judgmental comments about the person causing the harm. 


Students will be encouraged to:

  1. Set a good example in their relationships. Thus, their friends can learn from modeling. 
  2. Know the signs of abusive relationships and not support or encourage these in any way. 
  3. Help their friends to accept responsibility if their actions in relationships are harmful to the partner. For example, if the partner broke up, help the friend to accept it rather than to win the partner back.
  4. Always keep themselves safe. 
  5. Evaluate if they are a good partner. The “One Love Foundation” has an online quiz that will give students a perspective on their role as a partner in a relationship.