Friendship as safe space

The goals of this module are

  • to empower girls and young women to break the silence about abuse,
  • to increase empathy,
  • to educate girls and young women about possible signals of abuse,
  • to provide information local institutions and show possible ways to help victims and
  • to make participants experience the importance of friendship and teamwork

Ideal Group size:

10 – 30


10-20 minutes (plus discussion)



  • Exercising space: soft ground advised, area of 10x15m (varies with age and number of participants)
  • visible marking of the different institutions (hats, jerseys etc.)
  • visible marking of the abuser (boxing gloves, jersey etc.)

Materials for download:

External resources:

How it’s done

Notes: This session should offer girls and young the opportunity to share their concerns and knowledge about physical and sexual abuse. Furthermore they are supposed to develop strategies to prevent abuse and gain knowledge about possible ways to help others dealing with abuse.


Always try to make use of a story or a specific example to frame the exercise and the topic – ”Everybody, imagine a story of a young girl in our community. The girl is very shy and quiet in school and doesn’t have a lot of friends because she always needs to run away. She needs to run away from ‘The Abusers’, who are hunting her. Today we want to play a game about the girl and how she managed to defeat ‘The Abusers’ and became a happy girl ….

Instructions and description of exercise

Step I

  • Bring all participants together, sitting in a semi-circle to start the introduction and to explain the rules
  • Explain rules after introduction speech:
    1. This is a variation of a “tiggy game”
    2. Randomly select ‘the abusers’, who try to catch other participants (1 abuser for every 4 girls) and encourage them to sit next to you
    3. ‘the abusers’ must be visibly marked (e.g. wearing boxing gloves) and try to freeze everyone by touching or softly punching them with their hands/ gloves
    4. After ‘the abusers’ have frozen someone, they are not allowed to move until the end
    5. No touching/ punching of the head
    6. The other participants, ‘the school girls’ spread in the playing field and try not to get touched as long as possible
    7. Explain the boarders of the playing field before letting the ‘school girls’ spread, leaving the playing field equals getting caught by ‘the abusers’
    8. The exercise ends after 2 minutes or if everybody is frozen

Step II

  • Come together in a semi-circle again after the first round, randomly select new ‘abuser’ and introduce a new rule
    1. Randomly select ‘best friends’, who have the power to unfreeze participants through hugging them and calling ‘friendship’
    2. The ‘best friends’ outnumber the ‘abusers’ always by 1 (2 ‘abuser’ = 3 ‘best friends’ etc.)
    3. The exercise ends after 2 minutes or if everybody is frozen
    4. If possible, mark the ‘best friends’ visibly (e.g. wearing hats, jerseys etc.)

Step III

  • Come together in a semi-circle again, randomly select new ‘abuser’, new ‘best friends’ and introduce new rules
    1. Give every girl the power to unfreeze by hugging the caught and frozen girls
    2. Divide the girls in different groups (all have the same power) and name them: ‘best friends’, ‘trustful teachers’, ‘female support group’, ‘child help group’
    3. The exercise ends after 2 minutes or if everybody is frozen

Reflection and discussion

Notes: Bring all participants after the exercise together and create a comfortable situation with everybody sitting in a circle and being able to see each other.

Try to remind everybody of the entrance story and start to ask about the experience made in the exercise.

  • Everybody is supposed to be included into the discussion! Make sure to involve everybody and try to ask shy and more quiet participants directly.
  • Specific questions for reflection and discussion round:
    • How was it to play the first round when nobody could be unfrozen?
    • How easy was it for the abusers?
    • What changed in the second round and what happened for the girls/ the abusers?
    • Is there a possibility to transfer into real life?
    • How can ‘best friends’ help girls who get abused?
    • What changed in the third round?
    • How hard/ easy was it for the abusers to succeed and why?
    • Is there something to transfer into real life?
    • What is the advantage of having a lot of friends and institutions to help against abuse?
    • Which ‘frozen victims’ have you tried to save first and why?
    • How about real life, who do we give most attention and are there people who are overseen sometimes?
    • How easy was it for the abuser to catch someone again, after they have become unfrozen?
    • What would you do, if you think one of your friends get abused?
    • Where could you search for help?
  • Prepare a list of institutions and organisations in the community that offer help for the survivors of abuse and domestic violence and inform the girls about them briefly. Tell what they do and how they can provide help.

Notes: This is just a selection of possible questions that could help to lead a discussion. It is important to react on the answers that are giving in the discussion round and to be able to adapt your targeted guideline to individual experiences and perceptions.

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