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Sexual Violence Prevention

Primary Prevention

What is Primary Prevention?

According to the Prevention Institute, prevention is “a systematic process that promotes healthy environments and behaviors and reduces the likelihood or frequency of violence against women occurring.” Primary prevention is taking action before violence occurs.

Sexual violence approaches can be divided into the following three categories: primary prevention, secondary prevention, and tertiary prevention.

A Proactive Approach


Before a person has acquired risk factors for perpetrating sexual violation — and before sexual assault/abuse has been perpetrated.


Decrease perpetrator risk factors; increase perpetrator protective factors; promote positive behaviors.

Focus On

Individuals; Families; Communities; Organizations; Systems; Societal norms


Respect campaigns, providing info about healthy relationships, anti-bullying initiatives.

Secondary Prevention

A Reactive Approach


After a person has acquired risk factors for perpetrating sexual violation—and before (or very soon after) sexual assault/abuse has been perpetrated.


Address perpetrator risk factors; Promote appropriate bystander behavior; Share victim risk-reduction techniques.

Focus On

Potential perpetrators; Potential bystanders; Potential victims.


Rape whistles, watching your drink at a bar, taking a self-defense class, walking with a partner

Tertiary Prevention

A Reactive Approach


After a person has perpetrated sexual assault/abuse—and the problem is chronic and/or entrenched


Sex offender prosecution and/or treatment; Sexual assault crisis services for victims

Focus On

Known sex offenders; Known victims of sexual assault/abuse


Crisis hotlines, victim services, court advocacy, sex offender registries, prison sentences

Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence’s mission is to end sexual violence, and the coalition is dedicated to effectively achieving this goal.

How The Alliance is Supporting Primary Prevention Efforts

Primary prevention efforts play a key role in this mission. In 2003, the Director of Prevention and Projects position was created to develop and manage the coalition’s prevention initiatives, policies, and objectives. One of the first projects the Director of Prevention and Projects completed was a compilation of key information regarding effective programs that consisted of true primary prevention activities. The results of that literature review have served to inform coalition activities.

Primary Prevention Community Education

Member centers funded to conduct community prevention education and outreach focus on eliminating or negating risk factors contributing to the development of perpetration behavior.

These activities include efforts to change community norms that support perpetration, including addressing bystander behavior and parenting styles. Program activities may also focus on strengthening protective factors, helping develop those attitudes and beliefs that prevent individuals from becoming perpetrators. In addition, realizing that education needs to be supplemented with changes in the environment, programs may expand the focus to include social marketing and media campaigns, as well as participation in collaborative efforts

Sexual Violence Prevention Advisory Committee

Between November 2003 and March 2004, CONNSACS (now Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence) convened a Sexual Violence Prevention Advisory Committee.

It consisted of DCF (Department of Children and Families) professionals, Children’s Trust Fund, AHEC (Area Health Education Center), St. Francis Hospital Children’s Center, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, and CONNSACS’ member centers. The committee aimed to provide input for developing a statewide sexual violence prevention action plan. Recommendations resulting from this collaborative effort included:

  • Data collection for monitoring purposes;
  • Identification, testing, and evaluation of “best practices” in direct interventions intended to reduce the risk of perpetration behaviors;
  • Media literacy activities;
  • Support for healthy parenting; and
  • The development of community-based sexual violence prevention community action teams to identify risk factors for perpetration, increase protective factors, and support the prevention of perpetration of sexual offenses.

These recommendations, along with findings obtained through ongoing research, will be used to guide the refinement, enhancement, and expansion of effective primary prevention programs in Connecticut.

Need Support?

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