Effectiveness of reverse gender roleplay exercises in tackling trauma adaptation in children witnessing domestic violence

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The children who become witnesses to this violence from an early age have been found to have many adjustment problems even in their adult lives (Galloway, 2005). Here, the term, ‘witnessing violence’ means, being within range of violence and seeing it occur (Edleson, 1999, p.841). When a child has this kind of experience, he/she may or may not have trauma adjustment problems in current and/or future life. But the research so far has shown that a considerable percentage of this group have such problems. Objective and background As researchers like Galloway (2005), Hague and Malos (1993), and Edleson (1999) have put it, a considerable percentage of children witnesses to domestic violence are found to have trauma adaptation problems. But much investigation has not been made into what could be the role of the gender of such children in relation with their trauma adaptation capabilities. It is in this context that this research envisages exploring what the role of gender flexibility is, in the process of adaptation to trauma by children who are witnesses to domestic violence. The purpose of this study is also to develop further insight into the methods of imparting gender flexibility for handling child trauma and adaptation issues, which may in turn be of help to mental health professionals who deal with this target group. It is hypothesized in this research that training in gender flexibility imparted through reverse gender role-play exercises in the form of skits will help children who are witnesses of domestic violence to better adapt to their trauma. Here, what is meant by reverse gender role-play is that girls are made to the play the roles of men and boys are made to play the roles of women in performance skits practiced as part of group therapy. Review of Literature One major study related to this topic was carried out by Catina Galloway (2005), who observed, if a child who is witnessing domestic violence has access to tools from both ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’, then the child is found to have better possibility of adaptation to trauma (p.3). Galloway (2005) has called such a child, gender-flexible (p.3). By reverse argument, Galloway (2005) has also theorized, a simple feminine response or masculine response to trauma inhibits or prevents adaptation (p.3). Such an inference will lead to the assumption that the normal tools that usually children possess by way of the conventional gender training that they get in average families are not sufficient to deal with their domestic violence related trauma situation. And it will have to be concluded that only children who are either trained to use both masculine and feminine tools or specially equipped children who naturally know how to handle both these tools can hope to adapt to the situation. Jaffe, Wolfe and Wilson (1990, p.27) and Peled and Davis (1995, p.5) have opined that the reactions of children to domestic violence, among many other factors, may vary based on their gender as well. Jaffe, Wolf and Wilson (1990) have also found out that being witness to domestic violence, a boy often grows up to believe that violence is masculine behavior and to become himself a wife batterer, while a girl often grows up to believe that she is naturally destined to suffer violence from men and to become herself a silent victim to similar violence (p.16). Methodology The methodology adopted for this research will be participant observation (Tischler, 2010, p.35). Though participant observation has been considered as highly subjective, it has also been observed, participant observation generates more inside information (Kendall, 2010, p.58). As the individuals under study here are