Sexual Violence Prevention

Eighty-one percent of women and 43 percent of men in the United States report experiencing sexual harassment or assault in their lifetime, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Sexual violence is often preceded by subtle forms of sexual coercion, lack of ongoing consent, and power-imbalanced relationships. CAI’s approach to sexual violence prevention focuses on helping foster healthy sexual relationships that are power balanced, coercion free, and characterized by mutual respect for one another’s sexual autonomy. This approach requires community competence, or a widespread awareness and ability to view relationships through this lens, and CAI helps local and state agencies develop community-level prevention strategies to foster changes in social norms. We use the social ecological model that advances environmental, policy, and system changes. This work requires the development of new skills including: engaging local stakeholders and decision-makers; using data and public health language effectively to enlist decision-makers; responding to and tailoring programming to community needs; involving nontraditional partners; and building community will.

Currently, CAI serves as the Sexual Violence Prevention Training and Technical Assistance Center for New York State, where we are building the capacity of regional centers to transition from primarily individual-level prevention strategies to community-level work. For example, we have worked with the developer of the evidence-based nightlife bystander intervention technique, Safer Bars, to adapt the intervention and support implementation across the state. This work draws upon CAI’s extensive involvement in the field of sexual violence over the last 20 years, which includes serving as a training center for rape crisis centers; developing an online program for the National Office of Victims Services to aid victim service providers to effectively respond to crime victims; and developing specialized training and technical assistance to enable family planning agencies to recognize and care for clients victimized by sexual violence as the Title X Family Planning Training Center for Region II.

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