Summary: This project helps agencies in New York State implement community-level primary prevention strategies to reduce the occurrence of sexual violence in priority populations.
Opportunity: Sexual violence is a serious public health problem that affects every community and people across identity and experience. The field of sexual violence prevention has emphasized the importance of “primary prevention,” which means stopping violence before it begins. By taking this approach, regional centers (also known as rape prevention education or RPE programs) address the ways individual, relational, community, and societal factors impact sexual violence. These strategies move beyond outdated victim-blaming attitudes and instead emphasize efforts to change communities, shift social norms, and create cultures of nonviolence, equity, and safety for all.
Initiative: CAI helps the New York State Department of Health, regional centers, and key community partners build capacity and skill to develop, deliver, and evaluate programs that prevent sexual violence. We do this by providing training, technical assistance, resources, and expertise. Six regional centers across New York State receive funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to implement comprehensive and evidence-based/informed prevention in 17 counties with the highest rates of sexual violence in New York. Each center implements prevention programs in community settings, such as schools, bars, and community-based organizations. By focusing on community-level change, the RPE program facilitates community partnership to shift social norms and cultivate communities that are free from violence. This is done through group education on primary prevention (e.g., bystander intervention training), social marketing campaigns, changing physical and social environments, and education on policy solutions that prevent sexual violence.
Impact: Ending sexual violence in communities requires a population-based approach that builds strategies to change community norms, decreases risk factors, and increases protective factors. Our Sexual Violence Prevention project supports these goals by building a comprehensive understanding of authentic community engagement that empowers community ownership and strengthens connections between all forms of oppression, recognizing how inequities create conditions that allow violence to occur. By championing this paradigm shift in the field of sexual violence prevention, providers gain the knowledge and expertise to create cultures of nonviolence and stop violence before it begins.
Project funder and key partners:
Funder: Health Research, Incorporated, and New York State Department of Health
Project contact: Corbin Knight-Dixon, Project Director: firstname.lastname@example.org.