Sexual violence is a serious problem that can have lasting, harmful effects on victims and their family, friends, and communities. The goal of sexual violence prevention is simple-to stop it from happening in the first place. However, the solutions are just as complex as the problem.
Prevention efforts should ultimately decrease the number of individuals who perpetrate sexual violence and the number of individuals who are sexual violence victims. Many prevention approaches aim to reduce risk factors and promote protective factors for sexual violence. In addition, comprehensive prevention strategies should address factors at each of the levels that influence sexual violence -the individual, relationship, community, and society.
The most common prevention strategies currently focus on the victim, the perpetrator, or bystanders. Strategies that aim to equip the victim with knowledge, awareness, or self-defense skills are referred to as risk reduction techniques. Strategies targeting the perpetrator attempt to change risk and protective factors for sexual violence in order to reduce the likelihood that an individual will engage in sexually violent behavior. The goal of bystander prevention strategies is to change social norms supporting sexual violence and empower men and women to intervene with peers to prevent an assault from occurring. Other prevention strategies may target social norms, policies, or laws in communities to reduce the perpetration of sexual violence across the population.
(Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – CDC)