Primary Prevention

Sexual violence is a serious problem that can have lasting, harmful effects on victims/survivors, their families, friends, and communities. The goal of sexual violence prevention is simple—to stop it before it happens. The solutions; however, are just as complex as the problem.

Primary Prevention efforts are proactive and should be aimed at populations not just individuals.  In 2001, the Institute of Medicine recognized the approach to primary prevention by stating, “It is unreasonable to expect that people will change their behavior easily when so many forces in the social, cultural and physical environment conspire against such change” (Institute of Medicine, 2001). Additionally,  Larry Cohen, Founder and Director of the Prevention Institute stated in an article entitled Beyond Brochures: The Imperative for Primary Prevention,

“Personal choices are always made in the context of a larger environment. A focus limited to personal behavior change ultimately fails us in society because it narrows the possible solutions inappropriately”.

Addressing sexual violence requires us to take a long, hard deep look at the root causes of such violence. The Sexual Violence Continuum is a helpful tool that highlights the root cause and illustrates how sexual  assault is not a single act of aggression but part of a larger continuum of attitudes, beliefs, and actions that support sexual violence.  It will require comprehensive prevention strategies that address factors at each level of the social ecology—individual, relationship, community, and societal to effectively address sexual violence.


Sexual Violence Prevention – Beginning the Dialogue

Guidelines for the Primary Prevention of Sexual Violence & IPV

Sexual Violence and the Spectrum of Prevention

Stop SV: A Technical Package to Prevent Sexual Violence

Sexual Violence on Campus: Strategies for Prevention

Shifting the Paradigm

NSVRC -Engaging Bystanders in Sexual Violence Prevention

Opening the Door an Advocates Guide to Housing and Sexual Violence

Connecting the Dots: An Overview of the Links Among Multiple Forms of Violence

Addressing Sexual and Relationship Violence -A Trauma Informed Approach