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Opinions on play about domestic violence please

(56 Posts)
Thewhingingdefective Fri 25-Jan-13 12:13:28

I am trying to write a theatre in education piece to tour around schools, looking at abuse within relationships, particularly teenage relationships. My quandary however is that I have a young male actor (early twenties) and an older female (early forties) playing the couple that the story is based on. I was originally going for the slant of the older female as abuser but not too sure now. Perhaps the younger male would be better/more effective in the piece.

I don't want to be cliched but of course the message of the piece needs to come across clearly to the audience (Year 9 upwards). I would have preferred to have had performers of similar ages to get a more typical teen relationship, but I am trying to focus on what I can do with a relationship in which there is a significant age difference between partners - without making that the crux of the problem.

I was thinking maybe I could have the young male character initially appearing as the vulnerable one that gets looked after by the older female, but that it was a faced and his more controlling and abusive nature begins to show.

What do people think? Which is the less naff and cliched scenario? Or do I try to make it so the violence and abuse comes from both?

I don't have any personal experience to base this on, so just trying to read up and research what I can find online eg the Home Office site on teen relationship violence.


Forgetfulmog Fri 25-Jan-13 15:46:08

How do we know that male to female abuse is the most common? There is practically no public portrayal of female to male abuse

VoiceofUnreason Fri 25-Jan-13 15:49:58

Limited time is a rubbish excuse.

As someone who works in the theatre I would say it is a pity you are stuck with an older woman and younger man. If the two actors were of the same age, you could have produced a play which covered BOTH forms of abuse. You could present a drama where the male is the abuser and then get the kids to talk about it. Then present the exact same scene again but switch the roles where the woman is the abuser - even to the point of using the exact same dialogue. Then see how they feel about that.

That would a) be interesting, b) be different and c) cover both angles.

StephaniePowers Fri 25-Jan-13 15:58:01

How do we know? Pretty much because that's what all the research shows. hmm

VoiceofUnreason Fri 25-Jan-13 16:01:11

Anyone can prove anything they like with research depending on who they ask and what the question is.

I still say you could present a short drama that covered both sexes abusing the other in a relatively short time frame. Problem solved.

But the use of the word irresponsible was not just unfortunate but wrong. Suggests the female-to-male abuse isn't as important. Amazed you can't see that.

TiaMariaandSpringCleaning Fri 25-Jan-13 16:02:08

Could you cover both male to female and femaleto male abuse? For example, the actors are mother and son - they start by exploring how the (now absent) Fathers abusive relationship with her has affected them both. Then move on to a scenario where the son suffers abuse from his gf (or the mother is abusive to him through controlling behaviours etc) - it could enable you to explore how abuse becomes a long term cycle and pattern of behaviour over geenrations is not addressed.

BUT if you don't know much about this topic as you say, I would very strongly suggest you engage some lcoal experts (eg counselling services, women's aid etc) to help you handle this issue properly

badtemperedaldbitch Fri 25-Jan-13 16:02:39

You could have the boy telling the story in a real time perspective, and have the older woman respond as if she is the young girl grown up.

I know with myself there are lines that my 15year old self fell for that my 30 year old self would have seen right through..... And maybe girls will relate more to the woman because she isn't their mum, but has the advice that life gives you.

Xales Fri 25-Jan-13 16:08:31

If you haven't made any decisions how about half a dozen different sorts of domestic abuse. Violence, financial, gas lighting etc and show that either male or female could be the abuser?

Thewhingingdefective Fri 25-Jan-13 16:12:45

I haven't run off and abandoned the thread folks, just reading through. Will respond later when I have a moment. Thanks for the input.

Forgetfulmog Fri 25-Jan-13 16:41:52

I'm sorry but this is just making me angry. Research, what research? Can you honestly provide conclusive evidence that male to female abuse is more prevalent than female to male? It's this type of attitude that just brushes these things under the carpet & will never address the real issues.

BoneyBackJefferson Fri 25-Jan-13 17:30:07

unless you are going to show both Male to female and female to male DV you are being irresponsible.

ecclesvet Fri 25-Jan-13 20:16:50

"Data from Home Office statistical bulletins and the British Crime Survey show that men made up about 40% of domestic violence victims each year between 2004-05 and 2008-09, the last year for which figures are available."

Don't know if anyone has anything more recent, that was just a quick Google. 60-40 doesn't seem like the overwhelming majority some people are suggesting.

CreepyLittleBat Fri 25-Jan-13 20:23:34

Is this a commission? About violence in teenage relationships? The people who commissioned it are not going to be happy about the actors being too old (or is it them who have provided the actors?) and the subject being changed. Worst case scenario, they might not pay you. You need to give them what they've asked for, and if you have any say, those actors need to go! Even the man is too old - Y9s can see through anything.

Dromedary Fri 25-Jan-13 20:31:21

I would do either:
1) mother and son - mother trying to understand what son has done to his girlfriend, maybe influenced by how his father has behaved towards her and him. Or
2) young man has killed or put into hospital his girlfriend. He and the girlfriend's mother are talking about what has happened and why in monologues.
I would not do female on male DV. Simply because there is considerably more male on female DV and it is more likely to be very violent. It is therefore more important to tackle that in a one off theatre piece for teenagers.

Forgetfulmog Fri 25-Jan-13 20:41:49

Dromedary, read what ecclesvet has put before you go making wild accusations

VoiceofUnreason Fri 25-Jan-13 20:58:10


Dromedary Fri 25-Jan-13 21:15:23

I did read it before I posted. 60% is a substantial majority. And how many DV murders of men by their female partners do you know of?
DV is a wide concept. Do you really believe that as many women as men cause serious injury or death to their opposite sex partner?

Dromedary Fri 25-Jan-13 21:21:32

This is an interesting site - loads of statistics about DV in the US. Educational.

Dromedary Fri 25-Jan-13 21:22:02

Sorry - it's here:

Thewhingingdefective Fri 25-Jan-13 21:45:50

I take on board all that’s been said and agree with much of it. I am a bit puzzled why addressing female to male abuse is irresponsible though. I know that I have lots of legwork to do in terms of research before writing; the artistic director of the company has done some already and has spoken to various agencies through which we’ve got some funding for the project. I have also been checking out lots of links – ones from this board and also the This Is Abuse campaign via the Home Office website.
After reading your posts, I have come to realise that I definitely need to avoid the relationship between the older woman and younger man as it would detract from what I think should be the main focus – that is a teen relationship abuse. I want to address or at least touch upon as many aspects of different types of abuse in relationships as I can within the timeframe (about an hour for performance and there will be discussion and workshop time after).
Voiceofunreason- I agree with you about the actors. Unfortunately I get no say so on this matter – the actors have already been employed so I have to write around them. I think I can make it work though, by exploring some of the ideas mentioned here eg the monologues, support group and looking at different character relationships. I am fairly sure the role reversal idea will be explored by the company during workshops and I might look at that for the play too.
The choice of subject matter is the artistic director’s, so it’s not commissioned by any particular body, although as I said above I think there is a tiny bit of funding from one or two places. The company have performed other plays to schools in the area on other PSHE topics and the schools and students have given very good feedback, so it’s not the actors that are the problem. I just need to make sure that I don’t end up writing something that when performed, it comes over as arsey, preachy or patronising. Also, it’s not possible to just get rid of the actors – or my place.
Thank you again for giving me your thoughts. I was never quite sure on the ‘older woman’ storyline and seeing people’s opinions here has more or less confirmed for me not to go down that route.

dequoisagitil Fri 25-Jan-13 22:13:09

I think that male to female abuse is more prevalent and the turning it round onto female-male abuse to allegedly tackle a lesser talked about subject is misogynist what-about-da-menz BS.

VoiceofUnreason Fri 25-Jan-13 22:21:30

Speechless again at some postings on here. I really cannot understand how some people cannot see how their attitudes smack of "actually, as men are only abused 40% of the time by women, it doesn't really matter".

OP, thanks for coming back and letting us know your thoughts.

dequoisagitil Fri 25-Jan-13 22:28:19

It's not that it doesn't matter, it is that frequently showing a 'balanced' picture ends in ridiculous overplaying of the problem.

Watch Casualty. Watch Corrie. There are female abusers in high strength in the media.

dequoisagitil Fri 25-Jan-13 22:39:07

It's the stand-by of the media to be 'interesting' to turn it round on women-on-men, while reality goes unreflected.

saintmerryweather Sat 26-Jan-13 00:05:45

It really shocks me that ignorant people think because its the man who is the victim it doesnt matter or need to be addressed. maybe it is because men are made to feel ashamed that they dont stand up to their abusers that you dont hear about it. Bloody ridiculous.

Op why dont you have both actors talking as if they are both victims of abuse? Maybe the young man has been in a relationship for a while and is uncomfortable about his girlfriends escalating behaviour while maybe having the older woman having just managed to escape from a relationship she had been in since her teens. then you can have her explain what resources are available if you find yourself in that situation to help you escape, and the young man can raise awareness that women can be the perpetrators of dv as well as victims

dequoisagitil Sat 26-Jan-13 00:16:43

When a friend of mine started a refuge for abused women, she got a load of shit from people, about surely it was sexist and men get abused too.

So - start your own refuge...


Unfortunately, women are still disproportionately affected by biology, pay differences & social consequences. Therefore, I could give more of a cuss about women's issues.

Sue me.

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