This year, NSVRC celebrated its 15th anniversary. I often wonder what the staff back in 2000 envisioned as they looked to the future of the organization. I came on board in 2005, when the shift to primary prevention of sexual violence was a “new” thing, and I spent much of my first few months in deep discussion with our staff and partner organizations about what that meant for our work.
In celebration of our 15th anniversary, and how far the field has come in our prevention work, I’ve come up with a list of 15 of my favorite things about prevention:
- It’s possible!
- It’s something everyone can do – in fact, it’s imperative that everyone works to change the norms and culture in order to make communities safe for everyone.
- It’s not just telling people what NOT to do. It’s about promoting the norms and behaviors we WANT to see. I love this positive spin on our prevention work!
- Prevention programming is happening in every state and U.S. territory, reaching hundreds of thousands of community members each year.
- We have lots of resources! Over the past 15 years, the number of prevention-focused resources has increased exponentially!
- We have support for prevention from the White House! 15 years ago, I don’t think I ever expected to hear a sitting U.S. president call for an end to sexual violence, appoint a task force to look at the issue, and support a national prevention campaign.
- We have designated prevention funding! Thanks to the tireless work of advocates, we have the Rape Prevention & Education (RPE) grant program through VAWA that funds sexual violence prevention work in communities.
- We’re not in this alone! I am so grateful for the national partners we work with at CDC and CALCASA/PreventConnect, as well as all of the fabulous state/territory coalition staff and RPE Directors.
- Communities are coming together! Whether it’s schools and college campuses, faith organizations, or other community groups, people are seeing the need to work together to create safe and healthy communities that don’t tolerate norms and behaviors that support sexual violence.
- Prevention is about action. It’s more than just being aware that we have a problem. It’s knowing what to do about it, and more importantly HOW to do something about it. Many prevention programs have incorporated skills-based training, which is awesome!
- More and more preventionists are embracing evaluation. And this is a good thing, because evaluation helps us know how and/or if programs are having the desired effects on communities.
- Prevention programs are addressing the intersectionality of oppressions. We’ve known all along that all forms of oppression are linked, but many prevention programs make concerted efforts to incorporate those anti-oppression linkages in their work.
- Prevention programs are partnering with programs working with those who offend. We have had the opportunity to partner with the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) for several years now, looking at preventing first time perpetration and approaching prevention holistically.
- We’re learning more about what effective prevention messaging looks like. Through our work with the Berkeley Media Studies Group (BMSG), we’re researching, developing, and testing sexual violence prevention messages to find out what sticks. I’m excited for our continued partnership on this effort!
- We have a strong community of preventionists! Yes, I’m talking about you! Without each and every one of you committing your time and talents to the prevention of sexual violence, I would not be able to create this list. So, here’s to all of you!
What are your prevention highlights over the last 15 years? Feel free to share them in the comments below!