Let’s Talk Prevention!
Tanya Singleton, BSN, MPH, RNC, LCCE – Counseling Intern
At RCASA, I am an intern in counseling. In my other life, prevention is my passion. The science of Public Health is all about prevention; it is more economical to prevent disease and malady than to treat it; unfortunately, in the United States, there is not enough emphasis on the ounce of prevention, as the health care debate rages on about the millions required to be spent on the pounds of cure. This scholarly review will discuss information compiled by the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance in its “Guidelines for the Primary Prevention of Sexual Violence and Intimate Partner Violence”. For point of reference, sexual violence will be referred to as SV, and domestic violence will be IPV (intimate partner violence) for the body of this document.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recognized SV as a public health threat at the beginning of the decade ( although this threat has existed since the beginning of recorded history, namely, the rape of Dinah, the sister of Joseph, of biblical note in the book of Genesis – which lead to a massacre of biblical proportions. . .no pun intended!). The public health approach to primary prevention uses social change work as the foundation; Lee, et al (2007) observe that a combination of “the socio-political analysis of the feminist. . .movement and the systematic approach to promoting healthy behaviors central to public health theory” provide the best SV/IPV prevention strategies.
Positive changes need to address healthy relationships and healthy sexuality. By definition, a healthy relationship is “a connection between people that increases well-being, is mutually enjoyable, and enhances or maintains each individual’s positive self-concept.” Healthy sexuality is “the capacity to understand, enjoy, and control one’s own sexual and reproductive behavior in a voluntary and responsible manner that enriches individuals and their social lives. Sexuality is an integral part of the human experience with physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual dimensions” (Ford Foundation, 2006).
The Social Ecological Model recognizes four strategic levels as targets for change; individual, relationship, community, and societal. Individual factors relate to a person’s knowledge, behavior, attitudes, history, demographics, or biology. Relationship factors address the influence of family, peers, and intimate partners. Community factors are those that relate to norms, customs, and one’s experiences with school, faith community, work, and civic organizations. Societal level addresses causes such as social injustice, oppression, public policy, and organized belief systems.
The Alliance has developed nine guidelines for implementing SV/IPV prevention strategies:
- Develop prevention strategies that promote protective factors.
- Develop prevention strategies that strive to be comprehensive.
- Develop prevention strategies that are concentrated, and can be sustained and expanded over time.
- Develop prevention strategies that use varied teaching methods to address multiple learning
- Develop prevention programs based on purposeful, logical rationale.
- Develop prevention strategies that are developmentally appropriate.
- Develop prevention strategies in collaboration with a representative cross-section of community
members to incorporate diverse cultural beliefs, practices, and community norms.
- Develop prevention strategies that include a systematic method to determine program effectiveness and promote continuous quality improvement.
- Develop prevention strategies as an integral part of the agency mission to end sexual violence/intimate partner violence. (Alliance,2009)
This blog will periodically discuss each one in detail in subsequent issues. Consider which strategies YOU can implement in your corner of the world!
Lee, D., Guy, L., Perry, B., Sniffen, C., Alamo Mixson, S. (2007) Sexual Violence Prevention. The Prevention Researcher, 14 (2), pp. 15-20.
Sexuality and Social Change: Making the Connection Strategies for Action and Investment (2006). Ford Foundation: New York, NY.
Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance (2009) Guidelines for the Primary Prevention of Sexual Violence and Intimate Partner Violence. Richmond, VA: Author.