advocacy for specialised refuges and housing for women

Ups and Downs - what helps and what hinders women leaving an abusive relationship

Ups and Downs, a board game based on Snakes and Ladders Note: This resource is a training tool designed for use with practitioners who will work
with abused women. It is not a therapeutic tool.  

“Why doesn’t she just leave?” is one of the questions that people ask about victims of domestic/intimate partner violence.
This is a difficult thing to teach, as you can give workshop participants lists of reasons, but you can never be sure they are engaging with the explanations that you provide. Ups and Downs engages participants in learning through the medium of a game that is designed to help them understand what helps and what hinders women leaving an abusive relationship.

Introduction to the resource

Ups and Downs - what helps and what hinders women leaving an abusive relationship is a board game, based on traditional Snakes and Ladders, designed for use in training workshops about adult domestic/intimate partner violence.  Each case contains a set of boards, counters and dice for up to 25 participants (5 per board). Ups and Downs is intended to be used as one tool in a wider training context, and should only be used by facilitators/trainers experienced in the field of domestic/intimate partner violence.

How do I use the game?

The game is designed to be one tool in a workshop about domestic/intimate partner violence; it is not designed to be used alone.
We suggest that this activity comes after information about the prevalence, dynamics and effects of abuse. For example:  

  • What is domestic violence?
  • Who does it affect? 
  • How prevalent is it?
  • Domestic violence legislation
  • Dynamics of violence
  • Effects of domestic violence: physical, sexual and emotional
  • Why women stay – Ups and Downs: what helps and what hinders women leaving an abusive relationship 
  • How do you recognise abuse? What signs are you looking for? 
  • How to respond/what you can do
  • Resources

Who is this training tool designed for?

Ups and Downs - what helps and what hinders women leaving an abusive relationship is intended for use by facilitators/trainers running workshops about adult domestic violence/intimate partner abuse with:

  • Volunteers and new staff in domestic violence services
  • Social workers
  • Police, lawyers, court staff
  • Staff from social service agencies
  • Health professionals – including mental health and substance abuse services
  • Disability agencies
  • Counsellors and other therapists
  • Staff in organisations who may encounter abused women in their work, for example – child care centres, Citizen’s Advice Bureaux, religious communities, refugee migrant services…

It is not developed for use as a therapeutic tool with victim/survivors of domestic violence/intimate partner abuse.

Playing the game

This game is played like Snakes and Ladders.

  1. Players throw the dice to start the game – highest score starts.
  2. Each square a participant lands on has information written on it. This is read out to the group.
  3.  Participants move their counters around the board following the instructions in the squares they land on (eg. miss a turn).
  4.   If a participant lands on the head of a snake they go down the snake – if they are at the bottom of a ladder they go up the ladder. They continue around the board until either one participant or all participants have reached the last square. 

The learning occurs via the information on the square and also through the frustration of going down snakes, missing turns and generally feeling unable to make progress towards the end of the game. Participation in the game encourages conversations between participants about the issues raised on the squares.

Once participants have finished playing the game, facilitate a discussion about what they've learnt.  What do they now understand about what helps women leave, and what do they understand are barriers?


Ups and Downs - what helps and what hinders women leaving an abusive relationship  
costs $NZ 80.00 (GST exempt), overseas Postage is extra.

To order a copy of the Board Game you may choose one of the following:

  1. Email Debbie Hager (Chair person, Homeworks Trust)
  2. Fill in the form which is below to the right.

order form for Ups and Downs game

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