BHR 7- middle school- day 3-power and control/equality

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Building Healthy Relationships – Middle School Curriculum

Program 3


This program is designed to introduce youth, age 12-14, to issues of power, control and equality in relationships. This interactive program allows student to analyze different aspects of relationships, and to explore ways of building healthy relationships in their lives.

As a result of this program students will:

  1. Be able to correctly identify local resources for sexual assault, rape and domestic violence. (Specifically Middle Way House’s purpose and contact info)

  2. Be able to identify common traits of healthy relationships, and traits found in relationships based on power and control.

  3. Be able to understand and identify behaviors and attitudes that perpetuate abusive relationships, and strategies to change them.

Presenter Preparation:

  1. Relationship Continuum Scenarios


  3. Blank papers for anonymous questions

  4. Pencils/pens

Upon arrival:

  1. Arrange seating (if possible) to facilitate discussion. All students should be able to see the presenter (e.g. semi-circle).

  2. Write on the board:

Middle Way House

(812) 336-0846 24/7 crisis line




  • Introduce yourself personally. Explain briefly what your role is at the MWH/Rise.

  • If an OSA is available they should introduce themselves, and explain their role. Explain that some of the information we will discuss can be upsetting, and anyone should feel free to step out if uncomfortable. The OSA will follow anyone out the classroom in case they want to talk. OSAs should assure confidentiality.


  • Ask by show of hands how may students have heard of the Middle Way House. Ask those who raised their hands to share what they know.

  • Explain that MWH is a non-profit organization committed to fighting gender violence. The Middle Way House encompasses a number of services:

  • An emergency shelter for women and children who need a safe place to stay because of violence at home.

  • A rape crisis center with trained advocates that meet people that have experienced sexual assault at the hospital and on scene (if the perpetrator has been arrested). The advocates also are available for phone support. The advocates are available 24/7. This service is available to all genders.

  • A crisis line available 24/7 for people to receive support, ask questions, receive resources regarding relationships, domestic violence and sexual assault. Indicate the number on the board and explain the free, anonymous, confidential concepts. This service is available to all genders.

  • Rise transitional housing. For women and children that have experience domestic violence. It is a 28 unit building where families can reside for up to two years.

  • Free legal consultation e.g. help filing for protective orders or divorce. Legal advocates also accompany survivors to court.

  • Education and prevention programs like the one we are presenting today.


  • Ground Rules

Ask the class what kind of ground rules they would like to have for our discussion. We want it to be a safe place for people to voice their opinions and learn from each other.

If they have not said it already, add:

  • Agree to disagree.

We may have strong opinions, and it is ok for people to disagree.

  • Respect.

  • Confidentiality.

What is said in the room stays in the room

  • Why are we here?

We are here today to talk about healthy and unhealthy relationships. We are not here to tell you whether you should be in a relationship or having sex. We are here to have a discussion and share information.

2. Relationship continuum

Draw a long line on the chalkboard or blackboard, if one is not available use a piece of paper. Label one side “RELATIONSIPS BASED ON EQUALITY”, and the other “RELATIONSHIPS BASED ON POWER/CONTROL”. This will be your relationship continuum.

Divide the students in 5 groups, one for each scenario. Distribute one scenario to each group. Instruct the students to read the scenarios and place them along the relationships continuum line, where they think appropriate (you can use tape or tacks to place the scenarios on the board or paper).

Explain that the relationships scenarios can fall anywhere along the continuum.

Scenario 1

James goes over to Matt’s house every day after school to have a snack and play video games. James never cleans up the mess he leaves in the living room, so Matt has to do it for him. This has been going on for nearly three months, and Matt has not said anything.

Scenario 2

Leo is invited by his friend Heather to a party on Saturday night. When they arrive at the party Leo realizes that people have brought alcohol and drugs. Leo was under the impression that people were just getting together to watch a movie. He asks Heather to take him home, because he feels uncomfortable. Heather tells him he’s making a big deal about it, and that he should just deal with it.

Scenario 3

Sarah’s favorite teacher, Mr. McCann, approaches her after class. He tells her what a great job she has been doing in biology and wants to know if she would go get a soda with him after school.

Scenario 4

Stacey and Danielle have class together and decide that Friday night they want to go out to dinner and to see a movie. They both have different ideas about where they want to eat and what movie they want to see.

Scenario 5

Allison and Brett have been dating for about a month. One Friday night after a football game, Allison wants to go out for pizza with her friends. When she tells Brett, he becomes angry and starts yelling at her. He says that if she loves him; she will go out with him tonight and not her friends.


Read each scenario and ask students:

  • Why did you place your scenario here?

  • What could happen that would move the scenario closer to the equality side?

  • What could happen that would move the scenario closer to the power and control side?


Scenario 1

Positive outcome: Matt tells James that when he leaves a mess, Matt has to clean it up. He asks James to please clean up after himself. James replies that he had not realized he was leaving a mess, and that he will start paying more attention. James and Matt continue to play videogames after school.

Negative outcome: Matt never tells James about leaving a mess. As a result, Matt starts to resent James when he comes over. This has been wearing on their relationship, and the two slowly stop hanging out.

Scenario 2

Positive outcome: Leo tells Heather that he is not overreacting about the alcohol and drugs, and that he wants to leave. He calls his older sister to come pick him up. Later, Leo finds out that the police raided the party.

Negative outcome: Leo doesn’t want Heather to think he is not cool, so he says that Heather is right, he’s just overreacting. He still fells uncomfortable and ends up sitting on the porch most of the night, until Heather decides to leave.

Scenario 3

Positive outcome: Sarah says “No” to a soda as soon as Mr. McCann asks. She is uncomfortable about getting a soda with her teacher because he has control over her grades.

Negative outcome: Sarah says “Yes” to a soda with her favorite teacher. They go out a few more times. Then, Mr. McCann asks her to go back to his house. Sarah changes her mind and tells him she does not want to see him outside of class anymore. Mr. McCann threatens to fail her in biology.

Scenario 4

Positive Outcome: They decide that Stacey will pick the restaurant, and Danielle will pick the movie. Next time they will switch.

Negative Outcome: Stacey makes Danielle do what she wants. Danielle gets annoyed with Stacey’s controlling behavior, and overtime stops being her friend.

Scenario 5

Positive outcome: As soon as Brett stops speaking, Allison says: “ It makes me feel awful when you yell at me. Please speak to me in a calm voice”. She tells him that she is going out with her friends, and that he can come along if he wants. She suggests that they could go out alone the following night. He apologizes for yelling and overreacting.

Negative outcome: Allison decides that from now on she should only go out with Brett on the weekends. Her friends get mad at her, and soon Allison is spending more and more time with Brett. Brett starts making more demands on her time, and he gets angry and yells more often. Eventually Brett also starts hitting and grabbing Allison.


Divide the students into 2 small (3/4 people) male groups and 2 female groups. Have each group brainstorm what they consider acceptable and unacceptable behaviors in their relationships. Ask students to write their thoughts on a piece of paper.

Some examples could be:

  • Holding hands

  • Asking about my day

  • Going to the movies

  • Telling the truth

  • Listening to my ideas

  • Respecting my family and friends

  • Hitting, kicking, shoving

  • Yelling, calling names

  • Sexual comments or harassment

  • Picking on someone’

  • Saying bad things about family or friends


Read the lists to the class. Ask the students:

  • What surprised you about the answers? Why?

  • How will you let other know what is an unacceptable behavior?

  • How will you communicate what you want in the relationship?

  • Why is it important to tell people what you want in a relationship?


Pass out blank pieces of paper. Ask students to write a question or comment on the piece of paper. Instruct students to NOT write their names on the piece of paper. Be sure everyone turns in a piece of paper even if they do not have a question to ensure the questions remain anonymous. Answer the questions in class. If you don’t have enough time, tell them you will send answers to the school.

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