Using Theater to Create Community Responses to Domestic Violence

Using Theater to Create Community Responses to Domestic Violence

The Resource: Why Won’t She Leave: Making Families Safe for Women and Girls through Theater and Dialogue available on

What is a Healing Waters House Party?

Many of friends and colleagues were looking for opportunities to gather their intimate network of friends, something beyond book clubs, baby or wedding showers, and birthday parties.  All these events are wonderful reasons to gather in celebration of each other or to spend good “sister time”, but there was a clear desire for something different.  They were looking for a place to have important conversations about things they witness or experience in their lives.  We could hear a need for a safe confidential space to talk, free of judgment, about heavier issues that don’t quite fit into the usual cocktail hour or casual check-in.   Thus Harris and Hodnett created the Healing Waters House Party!

The interactive performance, “Why Won’t She Leave?” is used to prompt dialogue among Black women about domestic and sexual violence.  The Healing Waters House Party format brings the performance into an intimate social environment.  Many people find it easy to identify relationship violence when there are extreme physical signs, but it is more difficult to identify the often subtle forms of emotional, verbal, or economic abuse.  We are often left feeling unable to say or do the right thing when we are confronted with the issue.  Within this environment networks of women learn to develop appropriate, positive, and constructive civic responses to domestic and sexual violence and connect with local resources.

Contact us for help organizing your next Healing Waters House Party:

Objectives of the Workshop

Goal#1: Increase awareness about domestic and sexual violence.

Goal#2: Practice providing appropriate, positive and constructive social support.

Goal#3:  Increase awareness of innovative community capacity building methods.

Hosts: A host decides on the guest list.  You might choose good friends, coworkers, or perhaps members of the civic or church group you belong to.

Group Size:   Average Size 10 to 12 participants, with a maximum of 15.

Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour

Space: Space for all participants to sit comfortably in a circle on chairs, sofas, or floor pillows.

Food:  Serve hors d’oeuvres, dinner or arrange a potluck style gathering.

Attire:  Encourage guests to dress comfortably.

Feedback: Hosts and participants are encouraged to provide feedback on the Healing Waters Website.

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