Expanding Our Work: Primary Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence
Prevention of sexual and domestic violence represents a growing interest in many communities. This issue of the newsletter focuses on this exciting effort.
A vision for social change has been at the root of our movement to end sexual and domestic violence for over three decades. We seek not only to provide services for victims of the violence, but also to alter the misinformation, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that allow domestic and sexual violence to occur. With help from the prevention field and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, our grassroots social change work has new tools for preventing the violence before it begins.
The Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancement and Leadership Through Alliances (DELTA) program and the Rape Prevention and Education (RPE) programs, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seek to create community-based, sustainable sexual and domestic violence prevention efforts through the development of local collaborations. Communities are provided with training and resources to develop prevention plans appropriate for their locality. These plans address the issues of sexual and domestic violence at four levels: the individual, relationship, community, and societal.
Sexual and domestic violence are complex social phenomena that do not have easy solutions. Ideas about violence and oppression are deeply embedded within our culture. And, the economic, social and emotional costs of sexual and domestic violence for our society are huge. Perhaps on a more human level, however, we have an ethical responsibility to prevent sexual and domestic violence. Safety is a basic human right, something to which we are entitled. Violence affects each of us our selves, our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, our partners, and our friends. Can any of us really be safe if we fail to address this issue in our everyday lives?
Prevention and intervention services are two sides of the same coin. Effective prevention programming is informed and enriched by our experiences in serving victims. Prevention is a lengthy process. Victim services will still be needed to help todays victims even as we work to prevent future victimization. Just as importantly, prevention efforts are our best hope of reducing the numbers of people in need of our assistance.
The path ahead is not easy. Ending sexual and domestic violence will require all of us to come together as a community to change fundamental ways of seeing the world. We are still learning how to be most effective in preventing these types of violence. But change is possible. Violence is learned and can be unlearned.
Consider the facts. . .
- 25-31% of American women report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives.
- One in every six U.S. women report experiencing an attempted or completed rape at some time.
- 16-24 year old women are considered to be the most at-risk group for abuse.
- Both the World Health Organization and the CDC consider violence against women to be a worldwide epidemic.
- The costs of domestic violence, sexual violence and stalking exceed an estimated $5.8 billion each year.
- 92% of homeless women have experienced severe physical and/or sexual assault at some point in their lives.
- Women victimized by abuse are more likely to be diagnosed with serious health problems, including depression, substance abuse and chronic pain.
Sources: Family Violence Prevention Fund, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization
Stocking the Toolbox: A Primer for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence
Sexual and domestic violence primary prevention efforts are relatively new ways to talk about the societal problem of violence against women. To ensure maximum effectiveness with limited resources, we draw on information from other prevention and public health efforts, such as drug and alcohol use and seat belt safety, to identify promising practices. Drawing on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the scientific literature, and preliminary efforts, here are some of the basic building blocks of an effective prevention program.
The public health model offers us a new framework to think about social change work as the prevention of sexual and domestic violence. Borrowing from public health language, we can identify three types of prevention: primary, secondary and tertiary. While secondary and tertiary are focused on preventing a reoccurrence, primary prevention seeks to stop sexual and domestic violence before the first occurrence. All three are necessary to effectively stop abuse and violence. Primary prevention strategies have the best likelihood of reducing significant numbers of victims because they reach and affect the largest numbers of individuals. Primary prevention strategies also reinforce intervention strategies by creating a climate where sexual and domestic violence are viewed as unacceptable.
Intervention and Prevention
Prevention and intervention are complementary pieces of a whole. They reinforce and sustain each other. Because prevention is a long-term effort, even if prevention efforts eventually eradicate sexual and domestic violence, victim and offender services are vital in the short-term.
Intervention services are also important partners in prevention planning to ensure appropriate resources for victims who disclose as a result of prevention work. Presentations on sexual and domestic violence often result in first-time disclosures from victims. A prevention plan dealing with youth, for example, might include training for school counselors on how to best help young people who disclose incidents of abuse.
Our everyday experience of the world is shaped by four spheres of influence the individual, the relationship, the community, and the societal.
- Individual: At the individual level, we all have our personal knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. These are things we carry with us but they are not permanent. They shift to reflect our experiences throughout the life span and the messages we receive at the other levels of the social ecology.
- Relationship: Relationships with others have a powerful impact on our understanding of the world. Attitudes and behaviors are modeled for us from our first to our last days by our parents or guardians, our friends, our partners, our employers, and everyone with whom we have ongoing interaction. We often adopt beliefs and behaviors of those around us.
- Community: Communities define appropriate and acceptable attitudes and actions. For example, communities that fail to impose sanctions on abusive individuals send a message to community members that such actions are acceptable.
- Societal: Individuals, relationships and communities all exist within a larger context, that of the societal or cultural level. National influences, such as federal legislation and the mass media, send powerful messages that create a framework for the other levels of the social ecology.
While the four levels of the social ecology overlap, they are also distinct levels that influence our knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. They affect our learned understanding of the world and change throughout time to respond to shifts of the world around us. Since aspects of all four levels impact us, effective prevention programs must also address all four levels.
Risk and Protective Factors
There is no defining factor that creates a perpetrator of these crimes. There are, however, certain factors that seem to correlate with or increase the risk of perpetration, and others that seem to help protect against or decrease the risk of perpetration. Risk and protective factors are cumulative; having multiple risk factors increases the likelihood of perpetration and having multiple protective factors decreases the risk of perpetration. Building protective factors in individuals who have risk factors improves the chances of that individual having healthy relationships.
By level of the social ecology at which they occur, some of the risk and protective factors for the perpetration of sexual and domestic violence are:
- Individual level influences are personal history factors that increase the likelihood of becoming an intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetrator. Examples include attitudes and beliefs that support IPV, isolation and a family history of violence. Prevention strategies at this level are often designed to promote attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that support intimate partnerships based on mutual respect, equality and trust. Specific approaches may include mentoring and education.
- Interpersonal relationship level influences are factors that increase risk due to relationships with peers, intimate partners and family members. A persons closest social circle peers, partners and family members can shape an individuals behavior and range of experience. Prevention strategies at this level may include education and peer programs designed to promote intimate partnerships based on mutual respect, equality and trust.
- Community level influences are factors that increase risk based on individual experiences and relationships with community and social environments such as schools, workplaces and neighborhoods. Prevention strategies at this level are typically designed to impact the climate, processes and policies in a given system. Social norm and social marketing campaigns are often used to foster community climates that promote intimate partnerships based on mutual respect, equality and trust.
- Societal level influences are larger, macro-level factors that influence IPV, such as gender inequality, religious or cultural belief systems, societal norms, and economic or social policies. Prevention strategies at this level typically involve collaborations by multiple partners to promote social norms, policies and laws that support gender equity and foster intimate partnerships based on mutual respect, equality and trust.
Community Ownership and Mobilization
It takes a community to end sexual and domestic violence. Since our knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors are shaped by influences at multiple levels of the social ecology, it requires a community-level response to end sexual and domestic violence. Delivering multiple messages at multiple levels over time creates change. The more parts of the community that provide prevention messages, the more likely it is that change will occur.
Communities are also unique entities and only communities can accurately assess their own needs. Prevention programs must be adjusted to fit specific communities. The dialogue about how best to do that becomes much richer (and much more likely to succeed) when a broad segment of the community participates. Community ownership increases sustainability, an important factor to consider since change is a long-term process.
The social ecology and risk and protective models help us to organize our thinking around sexual and domestic violence prevention but neither provides an underlying cause. In reviewing sexual and domestic violence statistics from the World Health Organization, we find that such violence occurs at staggering rates globally. By looking for commonalities among societies with higher rates of these types of violence and societies with lower rates, one similarity is that societies with higher rates also tend to have a lower level of gender equality. Gender inequality creates social conditions in which women are more likely to be victims of sexual and domestic violence. Attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that define women as lesser than men make violence against women more socially acceptable.
Reducing root causes of sexual and domestic violence will require social change. Social change is a long-term process and requires a sustained commitment to prevention efforts. Changes in the fundamental ways in which we see the world create a safer environment and new opportunities for all people.
Getting Started: Tips for Advocates Doing Prevention Work
- Push for more than one chance. Programs receive numerous requests for presentations. Encourage organizations that invite you to speak to allow you to do more than one talk. Changing attitudes that underlie sexual and domestic violence requires repeated exposures over time.
- Consider your target audience. Most audiences that advocates present to are mixed. While your presentation needs to be inclusive, select which portion of the audience you particularly want to affect. For example, since the majority of batterers are men, consider how you might address issues regarding men's attitudes that allow domestic violence to occur.
- Model the behavior you want to see. Include information in presentations about healthy relationships as well as unhealthy relationships. If you use the power and control wheel to talk about domestic violence, consider also presenting a healthy relationships wheel.
- Provide concrete things to do. Statistics suggest that while the majority of perpetrators are men, the majority of men are not perpetrators. This means that many of us end up as bystanders people who see the effects of violence and the display of attitudes that underlie violence. Studies indicate that many people want to speak out, but lack information about how to do so. Bystanders often have more power than victims. Provide your community with simple, everyday actions they can use to make a difference, such as speaking up when people victim blame or talking with boys about healthy relationships.
- Infuse prevention messages whenever possible. Consider including prevention messages in every talk. Even something as simple as reminding people that violence is learned and can be unlearned reminds us that the violence is preventable.
- Prevention adds up. Prevention is cumulative, so even if you can't implement a comprehensive prevention program at this time, prevention is still worth doing. Change comes from multiple messages from multiple sources over time. Every prevention message adds to the potential for ending sexual and domestic violence.
What is the DELTA Program?
- DELTA stands for Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancements and Leadership Through Alliances.
- Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), DELTA seeks to prevent the first-time perpetration of intimate partner violence and/or domestic violence. KCSDV provides training, technical assistance, support and administration for the Kansas DELTA program.
- DELTA is a five-year project intended to better understand how domestic violence can be prevented.
- DELTA funds were awarded to 14 states; nine states began in 2002 and five additional states were added in 2003.
- DELTA funds are awarded to local coordinated community response teams to build capacity around and implement prevention initiatives. Local domestic violence agencies house a DELTA coordinator for the project.
- DELTA has five funded sites in Kansas: Geary County, Seward County, Lyon County, Sedgwick County, and Crawford County.
What is the Rape Prevention and Education program?
- Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention beginning in 1997, the Rape Prevention and Education (RPE) program is administered by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). KDHE makes grants to local sexual assault agencies in Kansas.
- The Rape Prevention and Education program seeks to provide prevention activities for the purpose of decreasing the incidence of sexual assault against women, with priority being given to programs targeting children and youth.
- RPE funds are awarded to all U.S. states and territories and award amounts are based on population.
- The Kansas RPE program focuses on preventing first-time perpetration of sexual violence and harassment by males.
- KDHE funds seven RPE sites in Kansas: Winfield, Lawrence, Ulysses, Overland Park, Manhattan, Wichita, and Kansas City.
Prevention In Practice: Spotlight on Kansas DELTA and Rape Prevention and Education Programs
A number of terrific prevention programs are currently being tried throughout Kansas as a part of the DELTA and Rape Prevention and Education programs. While these spotlights represent only a portion of what each of the communities is trying as part of prevention efforts, they demonstrate the variety of innovative ways in which communities have been able to integrate sexual and domestic violence prevention.
Spotlight on Liberal
Men from the local coordinated community response team formed a men against violence group. The group meets regularly to discuss healthy relationships, their own journeys to move beyond sexism, and how to help boys grow into respectful, non-violent men. While the group is still in its early stages, participants have already made a public statement that domestic violence is wrong by organizing a truck display for the Christmas parade. The group also works with the local DELTA coordinator to encourage intimate partner violence prevention in local schools.
Spotlight on Pittsburg
Supporting respectful attitudes among youth is the focus for the Crawford County coordinated community response team (CCR) under DELTA. Since youth are so greatly influenced by the attitudes of peers, the CCR uses social norms campaigns to let students know that the majority of kids their own age support healthy relationships. Working with Pittsburg State University, the CCR surveys students and then creates a school-specific media campaign that emphasizes statistics about respectful attitudes among students within the school. Students get more information about healthy relationships from participating in Safe Dates, a curriculum that the local CCR partnered with schools to present in science classes.
Spotlight on Junction City
Students in Geary County learn about healthy relationships in school just like they learn science and math. Geary County schools have worked with the local DELTA project to adopt Safe Dates as a part of the curriculum, sending the message to students that, while healthy relationships may not be on standardized tests, they are just as important as anything else we learn. This message is reinforced in other places teens visit, such as the local recreation center.
Spotlight on Emporia
The Lyon County CCR recognized that changing attitudes in younger children is often easier than changing those attitudes once they become ingrained. But the group also struggled with how to present healthy relationship information to kids when they still think the other gender has "cooties." In reviewing studies on a common problem for kids of all ages, bullying, they discovered that these problems overlapped a great deal. The solution was to present bullying information to younger children while presenting healthy dating information to teens. As a part of the DELTA project, schools throughout Lyon County now have programs that send a unified message around respect.
Spotlight on Wichita
Since prevention programs need to fit the unique character of each community, the Sedgwick County Domestic Violence Coalition has used the DELTA project to put prevention power in the hands of the people. Schools participating in the prevention program have formed school-specific committees, made up of "prevention engineers" who work with the CCR to develop a multi-level prevention program for their school. This approach has helped increase buy-in and ensured the participation of the school community.
Spotlight on Winfield
Demonstrating that policy can facilitate and reinforce change, the Rape Prevention and Education (RPE) program at Safe Homes has worked with the local school district to change school policy regarding bullying prevention and sexual harassment. The message is reinforced at other levels of the social ecology through the use of curricula in the schools and community-based events, including a fundraiser that supports the work of the local RPE program.
Spotlight on Lawrence
Students in Douglas County schools receive prevention messages through experiential activities, such as painting "respect murals" on walls in the schools and taking field trips that help youth understand the challenges of survivors. The Rape Prevention and Education program at GaDuGi SafeCenter has already incorporated evaluation in their work as part of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention empowerment evaluation project.
Spotlight on Ulysses
Unified School District 214 in Grant County has utilized their Rape and Prevention Education program to develop a district-wide plan for comprehensive prevention programming. The plan includes education for all students in grades K-12, and a sexual violence prevention curriculum has been approved for use in health and sexuality classes. Students participating in day camps in this area are also exposed to prevention messages as part of a collaborative effort to teach children about healthy behaviors.
Spotlight on Overland Park
Safehome has developed a primary prevention project through their Rape Prevention and Education program that seeks to make prevention messages a standard part of education in schools. The curriculum has been presented to 75 different middle and high school classes and is currently being evaluated.
Spotlight on Manhattan
The Crisis Center has partnered with community members under the auspices of the Rape Prevention and Education program to implement a three-pronged approach to sexual violence prevention, including a bullying program, a dating violence program for at-risk teens and a peer educator program utilizing university students as mentors. The initiatives are aimed at changing attitudes and behaviors that often precede sexual violence.
Spotlight on Wichita
Changes in school policy on sexual harassment and education for all staff, teachers and administrators on this topic are two elements of the Rape Prevention and Education program in Wichita by the Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center and the Safe Communities Coalition in Sedgwick County. Preliminary results from these and other prevention initiatives suggest positive changes in attitudes of male students and staff toward non-violence.
Spotlight on Kansas City
Middle school students in Wyandotte County get help from the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA) Rape Prevention and Education program in developing knowledge and skills for non-violent relationships. MOCSA is utilizing empowerment evaluation to assess their work and considering ways to share their success with other programs.
Ten Things You Can Do to End Sexual and Domestic Violence
- Talk to youth about healthy relationships and model the behavior you want them to adopt.
- Speak up when others make sexist comments or engage in victim blaming.
- Contact your legislators to encourage them to support intervention and prevention services.
- Become involved in prevention and intervention efforts in your community.
- Encourage your employer to offer training on sexual and domestic violence in the workplace.
- Approach your faith leader about starting a sexual and domestic violence program within your faith community.
- Educate young people to be informed consumers of the mass media so they can recognize negative messages about relationships.
- Let businesses know when they offend you with sexist promotions and advertising campaigns.
- Offer support to persons you believe may be experiencing domestic or sexual violence.
- Work with community officials to encourage them to adopt sexual and domestic violence prevention programs in your community.
Preparing to Intervene After Prevention: Teen Victims
Responsible prevention programming must include plans for safe and accessible services for victims. But providing services for teens, for whom many prevention programs are aimed, raises special considerations. While there are many similarities between teen dating violence and adult domestic violence, the two are not the same and the differences matter in helping victims. Additionally, teen victims are often legal minors and, unfortunately, this prevents them from accessing a number of options available to adult victims.
Below are some specific issues to consider when planning for intervention services for teen victims of sexual and domestic violence:
- What services are legally available to teens? Many domestic violence programs and rape crisis centers are hesitant to house minors or provide counseling services to teens without parental consent. Free legal services available to minors may be extremely limited. Teen victims may be reluctant to disclose dating or sexual violence for fear of "getting in trouble" with adults; mandatory child abuse reporting laws may actually make this appear to be the case.
- Can teens access protection orders and are they helpful for teens? A minor cannot apply for a protection order in Kansas without the assistance of a parent or an adult living with the minor. There are many challenges to the enforcement of protection orders when both the victim and the respondent attend the same school.
- Are staff members who will work with victims properly trained in teen dating and sexual violence? Staff members of any agency who work with youth may be the first to interact with a teen victim. When teens disclose to adults, it will likely be to adults with whom they have ongoing relationships and trust, such as coaches, school counselors, mentors, and youth leaders. Prevention professionals should ensure that communities are trained about and prepared to respond appropriately to teen dating violence.
Additional Online Resources
The Family Violence Prevention Fund http://www.endabuse.org
Liz Claiborne Inc. http://www.loveisnotabuse.com
See It and Stop It http://www.seeitandstopit.org
Ohio Domestic Violence Network http://www.odvn.org
National Center for Victims of Crime http://www.ncvc.org
Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape http://www.teenpcar.org
National Youth Violence Prevention Center http://www.safeyouth.org
Stop Bullying Now http://stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov
Family Violence Stamp On Sale
Your chance to purchase the "Stop Family Violence" stamp ends soon. The stamp is available for sale through December 31, 2006. This stamp marks just the third time in U.S. Postal Service history to have a stamp's net proceeds earmarked for a specified cause. Eight cents from the sale of each stamp goes to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for domestic violence programs. Since its release on October 11, 2003, more than 25 million stamps have been sold.
- Price: 45 cents
- Donation: 8 cents from the sale of each stamp goes to domestic violence programs.
- Purchase by phone: 1-800-STAMP-24
- Purchase online: www.usps.com/shop
- Purchase at your local post office.
Choose Respect Campaign Comes to Kansas
In response to national statistics on teen dating violence and the associated health issues, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in partnership with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, have launched a statewide media campaign called, "Choose Respect."
The campaign will include print and broadcast announcements promoting positive relationship messages among youth and seeks to prevent the first-time occurrence of teen dating violence. The campaign also includes an interactive website (www.chooserespect.org) where teens can not only get information about this issue, but also create their own music videos.
Kansas is one of 11 states participating in the campaign.
DELTA and RPE Begin Evaluation and Statewide Committee
Efforts to prevent sexual and domestic violence in Kansas will expand this fall and winter with the addition of two new components to the DELTA and RPE programs. While continuing to implement prevention initiatives, both programs will begin the process of evaluating existing prevention work and formulating a statewide plan for future efforts.
"Evaluating the work we're doing is an important part of our prevention efforts," said Deborah Zelli, domestic violence prevention coordinator at KCSDV. "Adding evaluation to the project will help us direct our limited resources most effectively while allowing us to share our successes and challenges with others just beginning sexual and domestic violence prevention."
Utilizing this and other Kansas data, a statewide committee will be formed to examine current efforts and future directions for sexual and domestic violence prevention efforts in Kansas. The committee will draw together representatives from a wide range of sectors to develop a blueprint for the integration of prevention work into existing and new services.
KCSDV Welcomes. . .
Shelly Lenczewski joined KCSDV in May and serves as the Project Assistant on the Safety & Accountability Audit. She has a bachelor's degree in human services with an emphasis in youth service from Washburn University. While attending Washburn, she helped launch LINC, a volunteer student service-learning group, and helped start the first AmeriCorp program with the Topeka Youth Project. Shelly has previously worked at an emergency youth shelter in Topeka, the KANZA Mental Health and Guidance Center, Inc. and Maximus. She has also been a table games dealer and supervisor for casinos in Kansas and Las Vegas.
Joyce Resnick joined KCSDV in May and serves as the OARS Advocacy Coordinator. She has a bachelor's degree in social work from Pittsburg State University and a master's degree in social work from Washburn University. She brings to KCSDV more than 35 years of public service including 28 years at the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services working in the areas of child welfare, psychiatric social work and grants and contracts. Joyce has served as adjunct faculty at Highland Community College teaching marriage and family and has been working part-time doing crisis counseling for 12 years.
Melissa Snickles joined KCSDV in June. Besides working full time at KCSDV as the Staff Support Assistant, Melissa will graduate from Bryan College in September with an associates degree in Business Administration.
TRAININGS & EVENTS
17 - Protection Order Training - Kansas City, Kansas
26-27 - In Our Backyard: Rural Responses to Domestic Violence - Emporia
1-3 - ED/Senior Staff Retreat - Wichita
29-30 - Court Advocate Training - Topeka
For more information and registration for trainings and events, visit: www.kcsdv.org/train.html
SAVE THE DATE!
Safe Homes, Safe Streets
February 7-8, 2007
PUTTING THE SPOTLIGHT ON SEXUAL VIOLENCE
For further information and registration for KCSDV and other trainings, visit our Trainings page.
This newsletter and KCSDV brochures are available online at: www.kcsdv.org/resources/newsletters.html
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