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Abstract

This paper discusses some of the challenges in teaching about gender violence, specifically with the knowledge that many female students are survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence. Sociology courses often strive for students to cultivate their sociological imaginations and connect their personal experiences to larger social issues. This process can be problematic for survivors of gender violence, and I discuss the risk of silencing survivors and conversely the risk of forcing students to share personal stories when they might not be willing to do so. By applying an engaged pedagogical approach in the classroom, I offer some teaching tools that I utilize to navigate this fine line and to create a “safe space” in the classroom that allows students to share personal stories if they feel comfortable doing so. Additionally, I discuss the difficulties instructors may have themselves in protecting their own emotional well-being in the face of distressing accounts from their students.

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