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Primary Prevention and Evaluation Resource
● Bystander training that emphasizes development and use of prevention skills
● Revisiting organizational and public policies to promote gender equity and to increase
accountability for sexual harassment and sexualized bullying
● Promoting gender equity through changing norms of behaviors in schools and workplace
● Media campaigns to support social norms that promote safety, equality, and respect
● Public education to teach critical viewing skills and advocacy campaigns to change
images of women, gender role, and violence in the media
● Assessment of and strategic plans to change high-risk social settings
● Social action events and demonstrations to mobilize a broader audience around sexual
violence prevention
● Creating settings for males to work against violence
● Creating norms that reject verbal pressure through policies and trainings of professionals
who work with youth
● Training social services and schools to identify individuals at-risk for perpetration and get
them appropriate interventions
● Elimination of “legitimate” forms of violence (e.g. corporal punishment, violent sports,
● Promotion of economic opportunities and anti-oppression work

Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence- Prevention

Understanding the Nature and Dynamics of Domestic Violence


Toward a multi-level, ecological approach to the primary prevention of sexual assault:

Prevention in peer and community contexts.
Casey, E. A., & Lindhorst, T. P. (2009). Toward a multi-level, ecological approach to the
primary prevention of sexual assault: Prevention in peer and community contexts.
Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 10(2), 91–114.


· Although programs designed to prevent peer to peer sexual assault have shown
promise for impacting rape-related attitudes and beliefs and at increasing knowledge of
sexual violence, they have been less able to demonstrate effects on rates of sexual assault
· Evidence from research on the etiology of sexual aggression suggests
considerable heterogeneity in pathways toward perpetration, and that risk for perpetrating
behavior emerges from multiple contexts, including individual risks, peers and
· Enhancing the effectiveness of sexual assault prevention efforts requires an
ecological approach that targets risk factors at multiple levels, with particular attention to
peer and community contexts.
· Ecological prevention models have been successfully applied in fields such as
HIV, bullying, and alcohol prevention.
· Common elements of ecological prevention models across fields include
comprehensiveness, community engagement, contextualized programming, a focus on
structural contributors to the problem, theory-driven content and an emphasis on positive
development. These elements may be helpful to sexual violence prevention practitioners
as the field increasingly moves toward a multilevel approach.
· Social norms campaigns, bystander approaches and men’s antiviolence groups
constitute promising but underevaluated peer and communitylevel approaches to sexual
assault prevention.”

Looking Ahead Toward Community-Level Strategies to Prevent Sexual Violence

DeGue, S., Holt, M. K., Massetti, G. M., Matjasko, J. L., Tharp, A. T., & Valle,
L. A. (2012). Looking ahead toward community-level strategies to prevent sexual
violence. Journal of Women’s Health, 21(1), 1–3.
“The field faces several challenges to expanding the evidence base around
community-level strategies for SV prevention. First, current knowledge of
community-level and societal-level risk factors for SV perpetration is very
limited. Additional etiologic research identifying these risk and protective factors
is critical and will guide the development of strategies for SV prevention that
impact these factors, as well our ability to measure these factors as potential
mediators or outcomes of existing prevention strategies. Unfortunately, the SV
literature provides minimal guidance about promising factors at these levels; thus,
it may be helpful to examine community-level and societal-level risk factors that
have been established in other research areas that share commonalities with SV,
such as youth violence or sexual health.23 A second, and related, challenge
involves the lack of theoretical or empirical guidance in the SV literature for
identification of promising programs, strategies, or policies that may impact SV
behavior at the community level.
One possible strategy that has already gained some traction in the field but
has not been sufficiently evaluated is a community-level social norms approach
that focuses on changing not just individual attitudes but also perceptions within a
larger community that violent behavior is socially unacceptable or that prosocial
behavior, such as actively intervening to prevent SV or SV-supportive behaviors,
is expected and encouraged.13–15 In contrast, some policy and environmental
strategies that have proven effective in other fields (e.g., condom availability for
HIV prevention, tax policies for tobacco use prevention) may not be easily
translated to SV prevention. As a result, theoretical approaches that consider what
effective community-level practices, environmental change strategies, or policies
(e.g., organizational/institutional policies, legislation) might look like for SV are
needed. One approach could involve exploring other literature fields for
promising approaches that might be more easily adapted or evaluated for SV
outcomes and to identify existing policies or other community-level strategies that
have yet to be evaluated but that may hold potential for SV prevention”

Casey, Erin A. and Lindhorst, Taryn P., "Toward A Multi-Level, Ecological

Approach To The Primary Prevention Of Sexual Assault: Prevention In Peer And
Community Contexts" (2009). Social Work Publications.

- “The sexual assault of adolescent and adult women in the U.S. persists
as a prevalent and devastating public health problem. According to
the National Violence against Women Study, at least 17% of US
women are raped during their lifetimes; 32% of whom are raped
between the ages of 12 and 17, and 46% of whom are assaulted in
adulthood (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2006).”
- “Over 95% of these crimes are committed by men (Tjaden &
Thoennes, 2006).”
- In this article we concentrate on “primary” prevention approaches that
may reduce the incidence of peer-to-peer adolescent and adult sexual
assaults rather than ameliorate their impact (Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention [CDC], 2004).
- Primary prevention in sexual assault focuses on reducing peer-to-peer
adolescent and adult sexual assault rather than mitigating it’s impact
later on.
- In this review we set the stage for considering multi-level interventions by
first providing a brief summary of current knowledge on the etiology of
sexual assault perpetration and note the evidence for attention to peer and
community levels. Next, we identify core components of multi-level
prevention based on literature from an array of prevention fields and
discuss their application to the problem of sexual violence. Finally, we
describe two examples of emerging sexual violence prevention approaches
that operate at peer and/or community-levels to illustrate the application of
a multi- level approach to sexual violence prevention.
- Steps to setting up primary prevention programs: (1.) Summarize the
current knowledge on sexual assault etiology (2.) Note evidence for
peer and community level cases of sexual assault. (3.) Identify
literature and studies that discuss successful primary prevention
programs and how they can be applied to sexual assault. (4.) Evaluate
and innact these programs at the peer and/or community levels to
combat sexual violence.
- Several individual-level predictors and correlates of sexually aggressive
behavior have been identified. For instance, abuse experiences in
childhood are strongly correlated with later sexual violence, especially
histories of childhood sexual victimization (Loh & Gidycz, 2006;
Nagayama Hall, Teten, Dagarmo, Sue, & Stephens, 2005), and physical
abuse (Simons,Wurtele, & Heil, 2002; White & Smith, 2004). Cognitive
factors such as endorsing “hostile masculinity” (Murnen, Wright &
Kaluzny, 2002), or a simultaneously negative, hostile and dominating
attitude towards women (Malamuth et al., 1995) have been among the
strongest attitudinal associates of self-reported perpetration. Similarly,
“hypermasculinity,” or strong endorsement of traditional male gender
roles (Mosher & Sirkin, 1984), has shown a moderate effect size in
relation to sexually aggressive behavior (Murnen et al., 2002). Rape–
supportive attitudes, and endorsement of “rape myths” (widely held, but
false beliefs, such as the perception that women “deserve” rape if they
wear provocative clothing) are also consistently related to perpetration
(Abbey, McAuslan, Zawacki, Clinton, & Buck, 2001; Maxwell, Robinson
& Post, 2003). Men who are more tolerant of interpersonal violence (Carr
& Vandeusen, 2004),and who have a promiscuous and “impersonal” or
non-intimacy-based approach to sexual interactions (Malamuth et al.,
1995) also have a higher risk of sexual assault perpetration.
- Individual level predictors and correlates of sexually aggressive
behavior: (1.) Abuses in childhood, either sexual, physical, or
emotional in nature (2.) Certain cognitive mindsets, such as hostile
masculinity or a dominating attitude towards women (3.) Cases of
hypermasculinity in the individual (4.) Endorsement of “rape myths”
and their perpetuation.
- Alcohol is also both a tool of coercion by potential perpetrators (Carr &
VanDuesen, 2004), and a risk factor, as heavy or problem drinking,
particularly when paired with sexual encounters, is associated with higher
levels of self-reported sexual aggression among men (Abbey, Parkhill,
BeShears, Clinton-Sherrod & Zawacki, 2006; Ullman, Karabastos, &
Koss, 1999; Zawacki et al., 2003). Finally, deficits in empathy are also
implicated in sexual assault (see for review Blake & Gannon, 2008;
Wheeler, George & Dahl, 2002). Men who have limited capacity to
imagine the feelings of others are more likely to engage in sexually
assaultive behavior.
- Alcohol is a tool of coercion used by perpetrators and heavy use is
furthermore a predictor of sexual aggression among men.
- Lacking in empathetic social skills are also indicative factors of future
sexual assault.
- Peer approval of forcing sex on women and/or using coercive tactics to
gain sex is a strong predictor of both an individual man’s approval of the
use of verbal coercion in intimate situations and his own likelihood of
sexual assault perpetration (Abbey et al., 2001; Humphrey & Kahn, 2000;
Schwartz & Nogrady, 1996). Similarly, associating with peers who have
gotten a woman drunk in order to gain sex, or who support the use of
alcohol or drugs to undermine a woman’s resistance to sex is predictive of
self-reports of perpetration (Schwartz & Nogrady, 1996). Association with
“delinquent” peers in adolescence, or with peers who reinforce each
others’ hostile talk about women is also predictive of sexual aggression
(Malamuth et al., 1995) and mistreatment of female partners (Capaldi,
Dishion, Stoolmiller, & Yoerger, 2001). Indeed, sexually assaultive men
are more likely to talk about their sexual behavior with peers (Craig,
Kalichnan, & Follingstad, 1989; Lisak & Roth, 1988), suggesting that
sexually coercive behavior may be over-represented in discourse about
sexuality among men. Membership in fraternities (Lackie & deMan, 1997)
and aggressive all-male sports teams (Forbes, Adams-Curtis, Pakalka, &
White, 2006) have also been implicated in increased risk for sexually
aggressive behavior among college students, although this association may
be more attributable to the unique climates of particular fraternities or
teams as opposed to membership in these types of organizations more
generally (Humphrey & Kahn, 2000).
- Social interaction plays a major role in sexual assault. Men are
associated with others who have engaged in sexual assault, who
display sexual aggressive tendancies, or who reinforce one another’s
aggressive behaviors are more likely to become perpetrators
themselves. Conversely, hanging around with those who oppose these
ideals leads to the opposite; men in this case are more likely to
intervene in ongoing sexual assaults they see occuring.
*NOTE* Bold writing is indicated as potential writings for posters/social
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from the source document. Poster/handout material is usually written
below the source material used to write its contents.