"It's so important for students to feel like they can talk about domestic violence and to hear others talking about it," said Rhonda Evans, program specialist for the dating violence awareness program ADMYRE.
ADMYRE is an initiative of the College of Human Sciences' Child Welfare Research and Training Project, which has been funded by a grant from the state's Child Support office for more than three decades. Approximately 570 students have participated in the program since its launch in February 2022.
- ADMYRE is an acronym for Advocating for My Relationships.
- You can request an ADMYRE kit (includes instructions, story cards and debriefing materials) or the online version by selecting the In-Person Kit/Online Access button on the program's website. Both are free. Contact Rhonda Evans with questions.
Many age groups can benefit
An interactive simulation, ADMYRE uses stories based on real-life scenarios to illustrate the signs and impact of unhealthy relationships. Students experience the stories through the main character's point of view and see how different decisions influence the outcomes. At the end of the exercise, facilitators discuss healthy and dangerous behaviors in the stories and help students create a safety plan.
"Our goal is to hook them at the heart level," said Evans. "We want to share information that encourages them to make a change in their behaviors and thoughts about domestic violence."
ADMYRE is part of the Child Welfare Research and Training Project's Parenting: It's a Life program, a free curriculum exploring the financial realities of becoming a parent. Initially designed for middle and high schoolers, funding received by the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services in 2020 expanded its outreach to the emerging adult population (ages 18-25).
When ADMYRE launched, staff partnered with faculty in Human Sciences to offer the program and other resources -- like a young parents resource guide created with help from a student employee who was also a parent -- that can be learning tools for students and instructors.
"We've collaborated with faculty to present ADMYRE to their classes and developed a parenting simulation for college students," Evans said. "We also created an asynchronous online version of ADMYRE and a kit so instructors can present it on their own."
Evans said feedback, from instructors and students in the college and those in middle and high school, has been positive. ADMYRE participants overwhelmingly reported agreement or strong agreement that the program was useful to them, and many participants shared plans to apply what they learned in their own lives.
"Instructors have found it helpful to start discussions around this tough topic," she added. "The faculty in human development and family sciences are who we most often work with but we would be thrilled to connect with faculty anywhere on campus."
Staff created ADMYRE in collaboration with the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, a nonprofit that provides education and support to domestic violence service providers in the state.
While preparing stories for ADMYRE, ISU program staff reached out to the coalition's executive director Maria Corona, an ISU alum who, as a student, worked for the Child Welfare Research and Training Project. She connected them with the coalition's director of training, Kirsten Faisal, who provided detailed feedback on the stories and comes yearly to do professional development with facilitators.
"The coalition has provided great consultation and promotes ADMYRE among their advocates, who also attend in-person ADMYRE presentations," Evans said. "We're really trying to build the partnership with the coalition because we have the same goal."