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What is Primary Prevention?


   Primary prevention is “stopping violence BEFORE is starts by creating environments that promote respect, equality, civility, healthy relationships, and healthy sexuality.”  For some, an easy way to think of primary prevention is think of it as social norms change.  Preventing sexual violence before it happens can only effectively be done with knowledge, education, and collaboration.  We have seen a lot of effort to prevent sexual violence over the past few decades, but much of that work includes strategies to intervene after sexual violence has occurred, not before, and we still have a sexual violence problem in Wyoming.  By creating healthy environments, we are teaching men not to rape, rather than teaching women what to do to not get raped.  Ultimately, our goal is to end sexual violence before it even starts, and we can do that because violence is a learned behavior.  Preventing sexual violence is possible because it can be unlearned and not learned in the first place.  You can read more about primary prevention by reading the Prevention Institute's Preventing Violence: A Primer here.


Explore the following links for a more in-depth explanation of primary prevention:

  • Sexual Violence Prevention: Beginning the Dialogue to explain primary prevention of sexual violence was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to explain that sexual violence is a public health concern in that it impacts the health of a population rather than just one individudual.  This publication is comprehensive and includes an explanation of the Social-Ecological Model (SEM) that demonstrates that individuals are embedded in a social system and the distinction among primary, secondary and tertiary prevention.  For a summarized version of the SEM, click here.


      education and maximizes the result of any one prevention activity.  The

      Spectrum is a comprehensive strategy tool to prevent violence.  The six

      strategy levels are complimentary to one another, and when used

      together, the strategies are more effective at preventing violence than

      any one strategy alone.  Check out 

      Sexual Violence and the Spectrum of Prevention: Towards a Community Solution

      for more information.  


       American College Health Association that offers more resources, ideas and strategies to prevent sexual violence.  


  • What Works in Prevention: Principles of Primary Prevention was published by The American Psychological Association to explain what components must be incorporated for effective prevention strategies.




  • The Community Readiness Model was developed by the Colorado State University Tri-Ethnic Center.  The Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (WCADVSA) has used this model to assess how ready Wyoming is to address the issue of sexual violence.


  • Engaging Bystanders in Sexual Violence Prevention offers a comprehensive explanation of the bystander approach.  In recent years, bystander intervention has surfaced as a primary prevention approach to stop sexual violence, because this approach involves a bystander taking action to prevent the occurence of a sexual assault.  The bystander approach is a result of the social phenomenon known as the bystander effect that occurs when individuals are discourage from intervening in the presence of others.  Find out why that is and more about the bystander intervention approach

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