David Hagopian’s Lesson Plan

LESSON PLAN – “Why doesn’t he/she just leave”   David Hagopian He/Pe Teacher

OBJECTIVE : Students will learn the many reasons why victims stay in the abusive relationship, and why it is so difficult to leave the abuser.

****”I prefer to do this activity before teaching about the cycle of abuse and victimization. Doing the activity after would influence their decisions to leave or stay during the activity. I think you would have all the students on the leave side, due to what they learned about the cycle and victimization. It’s good to have some who stayed so we can list reasons why victims stay. Then, teaching about the cycle and victimization afterwards will combat all of the reasons listed in the activity.”   David Hagopian

DESCRIPTION : On one side of the room tape on the wall a sign that says “STAY”, on the other side a sign that says “LEAVE”. Tell students that this is a story about Jose and Maria. Ask students to imagine that they are Jose (even the girls). Ask them to try their best to imagine how he’s feeling and imagine the POWERFUL feeling of love that he has for Maria. Read the story to the class and pause for 60 seconds at certain points. When you pause, students go to the “STAY” side of the room or “LEAVE” side, depending on what they would do at that point. Then continue the story. Students who “left” the relationship can choose to go back to the “STAY” side at any point in the story, since it’s common that victims leave then go back often.  At the end of the story, hopefully you have some students on the “LEAVE” side and some on the “STAY” side. After reading the whole story have a discussion. Ask the students on the“LEAVE” side what made them leave. Ask students on the “STAY” side why they stayed. As students make points about why they stayed or, write them on the board. To conclude, have the class brainstorm other reasons why the victim stays, and write them on the board.


  1. Love
  2. Memories of Honeymoon stage
  3. Believe partner will change
  4. Believe “I can save her. I can help her change”
  5. Empathy – feel bad for partner and what she has been through- doesn’t want to hurt her


  1. Fear – 65% of IPM happen AFTER the breakup
  • Victim was threatened
  • Victim’s family was threatened
  • Abuser threatens own life (suicide
  1. Self Blame – “If I change how I am, he/she will treat me better”
  2. Learned Helplessness; Hopeless
  3. Psychological attachment – “Stockholm Syndrome”
  4. Financial
  5. Poor self esteem
  6. Feels alone – support system had been stripped away



I met Maria when we were both sophomores in high school. She is so hot and has a fun, outgoing personality. Many guys wanted to go out with her, but for some reason she liked me. For 6 months our relationship was perfect. She was so cool and nice. I felt so lucky to be with her. I felt like I had met my soul-mate…. PAUSE


One time, this girl Ebony, who is in one of my classes, started flirting with me. She told me she liked me and asked if I had a girlfriend. I said yes. She said “Too bad”. Ebony continued to be my friend and told me she is there for me if I ever break up with Maria. When Maria found out she got very angry and got right up in Ebony’s face. They ended up fighting. Maria must have won because Ebony stopped talking to me…… PAUSE


Maria made me feel so special. She buys me gifts and showers me with much affection. I feel like the coolest guy in school because I am with her. I’m the envy of all my friends because of her. At times she can be a little demanding. She gets a bit upset if I look at any other girls. She says that she likes me so much she does not want to lose me to someone else. I don’t want anyone else, but she sometimes thinks I’m checking out other options. She can get pretty jealous. When she does, I always reassure her that she is the only one for me. She gets all worked up if I mention my female friends, but it’s only because she cares so much…………….PAUSE


On my 16th birthday, Maria was awesome. She took me out to dinner, then the movies, then she came with me to hang with my friends. When my friends left it got even better. Maria gave me a gold chain and told me that she loves me. No one has ever said that to me before. It was the best birthday I ever had, and it was all because of Maria. I thanked her and told her I love her too…………..PAUSE


About 2 weeks after my birthday, Maria got very mad at me because I didn’t answer my cell when she called. I told her my phone was dead, and asked her what she wanted. She said it didn’t matter anymore. Maria has quite a temper, but she gets over her anger quickly. Since that incident, she wants to know where I am, who I’m with, and what I’m doing. She says she just wants to make sure I’m safe, although sometimes she accuses me of being with other girls, which I’m not. I love her so much that I don’t want anyone else………PAUSE


Like any couple, we do have our fights. Sometimes when she gets very upset she throws things. She has slapped me a few times.  It doesn’t hurt. They are more like “love taps”.  Once when we were at the mall, she thought I was checking out another girl so she pinched and slapped me. I was shocked and had to push her away when she continued to pinch, slap, and yell at me. I assured her that I love her and don’t want anyone else. I know Maria has her anger issues, but her positives greatly outweigh her negatives. After she calmed down, she apologized, we kissed, and the rest of the day was great……..PAUSE


Yesterday I asked Maria to come over my house. After 1 year of being together, I was ready to break up with her, even though I was sure that I loved her. When I tried, she started crying. It is the first time I ever saw her cry. Then she got very embarrassed. She said, “I have to tell you something that I’ve never told anyone, not even my best friend. I grew up in an abusive household. My dad beat my mother often, and when I was around 12 years old he started beating me. For the last 4 years my mother and I have been living in fear of him. A few weeks ago my dad moved out, and my mother is getting a restraining order against him. But I am still petrified that he will come after us. I am so sorry for the things I’ve done to you when I get mad. I love you so much, more than anyone in the world. I promise to go to counseling to get help through these issues. I promise I will never put my hands on you in a mean way again. Please, Jose, give me another chance to make things right. I love you so much.” I thanked Maria for telling me something so personal, and told her I love her too…….THE END