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What is Sexual Violence?


   According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s (NSVRC), “Sexual violence occurs when someone is forced or manipulated into unwanted sexual activity without their consent. Consent, by definition, means permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. Reasons someone might not consent include fear, age, illness, disability and/or influence of alcohol or other drugs. Anyone can experience sexual violence, including children, teens, adults, and elders. Those who sexually abuse can be acquaintances, family, trusted individuals or strangers; of these, the first three categories are most common.”  Please click here to access the What is Sexual Violence article that offers a clear and concise explanation of forms of sexual violence, its impact, ways to prevent it and facts.


Additional resources about sexual violence:




  • It's Connect provides information about sexual assault and how healthy care professionals can assist victims.


  • It's Connect provides information about sexual assault and how parents and caregivers can play a role in responding to victims 




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.

















  • 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

What is Healthy Sexuality?


   The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) defines healthy sexuality as “having the knowledge and power to express sexuality in ways that enrich one’s life.  It includes approaching sexual interactions and relationships from a perspective that is consensual, respectful and informed.  Healthy sexuality is free from coercion and violence.”  When children learn about healthy sexuality at a young age, they have a greater potential to engage in healthy relationships and behaviors throughout their lifetime, and gain a better understanding of being agents of their own bodies, needs and desires.  See the NSVRC’s full article on healthy sexuality and sexual violence prevention here


Check out more resources here:











  • The WCADVSA has assembled a Children's Literacy List of books that support the emotional and social development of children by encouraging children to respect others and challenge ‘traditional’ gender stereotypes.  Consider using these children's books to engage in dialogue with children about healthy sexuality and respect.  



Adolescents and Sexual Violence Prevention


   Karen Pittman of The Forum for Youth Investment said, “Youth are resources to cultivate, not problems to fix!”  Do you know any teenager that wants to have their way?  Allowing teenagers to be their own agents for change engages them to take a stand and is a powerful means to prevent sexual violence.  Teenagers should not be undermined, as they have invaluable insight as to how they can connect with other young people and create change within the younger generation.  The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) has developed Youth Activism: Engaging Teens in the Sexual Violence Prevention Movement that explores the benefits of peer education.


More resources for engaging adolescents in prevention efforts:



  • Raising Successful Youth offers research-based principles of what families, schools and community members can do to raise successful youth.  More information can be found on the Center on Early Adolescence website.





  • The Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality website offers The Youth Program Quality Assessment to examine the quality of youth programs and identify strengths and weakness of the programs and staff and offers a variety of publications.


Find out how Wyoming is engaging adolescents: 

  • The Wyoming Adolescent Health Partnership (WAHP) was founded by the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) Adolescent Health Program in 2014 and is comprised of Wyoming State Government Agencies and State-wide non-profit organizations.  The WAHP is dedicated to empowering youth to reach their full potential in an environment that fosters physical, mental, community, and spiritual wellness.  Current projects include facilitating a youth council, developing the Wyoming Strategice Plan for Adolescent Health, and creating the Wyoming Adolescent Health website. 



Other resources for working with teenagers to prevent sexual violence:


Tools for Change and Action Steps for Your Community Utilizing the Spectrum of Prevention

   The Spectrum of Prevention is a comprehensive strategy tool that can be used to prevent violence.  Each of the six (6) strategy levels are considered an intervention, but when used together, the Spectrum becomes a more effective force to prevent sexual violence.  Check out Sexual Violence and the Spectrum of Prevention: Towards a Community Solution for more information and examples.  



Strengthening Individual Knowledge and Skills*

  • Enhancing an individual's capability of preventing violence and promoting safety


Action Steps: Take the time to learn about healthy sexuality and how it relates to preventing sexual violence and pass that knowledge onto the next generation.



Explore our Communicating with Children about Healthy Sexuality tips and talking points for parents and guardians, and consider using books on the Children's Literacy List to engage your children in conversation.




Promoting Community Education

  • Reaching groups of people with information and resources to prevent violence and promote safety


Action Steps:  Use community events as an opportunity to promote primary prevention of sexual violence.



Complete this Resource Table Request Form to share BE THE SOLUTION at local events and consider using these Suggested Social Media Posts to spread the campaign message.  Use the products to engage individuals and groups in conversation about primary prevention of sexual violence.




Educating Providers

  • Informing providers who will transmit skills and knowledge to others and model positive norms


Action Steps: Use BE THE SOLUTION and its products, as a tool to educate local business ownders about sexual violence and how to prevent it from happening in the first place.  


BE THE SOLUTION Tools: After taking the time to talk about sexual violence prevention with members of your community, you can use this Informational Card Pop-up that explains the BE THE SOLUTION campaign to display where products are available in your community to show community support.   




 Fostering Coalitions and Networks

  • Bringing together groups and individuals for broader goals and greater impact


Action Steps: BE THE SOLUTION can be a starting point to building and strengthening relationships with other organizations.


BE THE SOLUTION Tools: Look through this Communications Plan to understand more about how BE THE SOLUTION will be most effective when it is used in collaborations with other organizations and individuals.  Form a group of thoughtful committed citizens in your community to discuss sexual violence prevention and take action to make prevention the norm.  



Changing Organizational Practices

  • Adopting regulations and shaping norms to prevent violence and improve safety


Action Steps: Take the time to assess the regulations and practices of your program, organization or school, and make changes so that they are in alignment with ending sexual violence.  Making your organization an example for others, helps raise awareness and affect social norms related to sexual violence.


BE THE SOLUTION Tools:  Use this Self-Assessment of Organizational Readiness for Primary Prevention of Violence to evaluate your organizational regulations, practices and structure.




Influencing Policy and Legislation

  • Enacting laws and policies that support healthy community norms and violence-free society


Action Steps: Send a letters to your legislators, letting them know that you are concerned about sexual violence in your community, and that you would like to see action to prevent it from happening in the first place.  Take the time to follow up with your legislator after sending the letter to provide as well.  


BE THE SOLUTION Tools: Use this Sample Letter to Legislator and add statistics from your community and/or your personal experiences.  Follow up with your legislator to further discuss your concerns and ideas for prevention in your community.




Image Source:

*Spectrum of Prevention definitions from Sexual Violence and the Spectrum of Prevention: Towards a Community Solution and can be found at

Other Resources

  • PreventConnect: A national project of the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, the goal of PreventConnect is to advance the primary prevention of sexual assault and relationship violence by building a community of practice among people who are engaged in such efforts.


  • Prevention Institute: National non-profit organization committed to preventing illness and injury, to fostering health and social equity, and to building momentum for community prevention as an integral component of a quality health system.



  • preventIPV: National online resource for primary prevention of intimate partner violence.  


  • VAWNet: National online resource center on violence against women.


  • Do Something: Using the power of online to get teens to do good stuff offline.




  • Men Can Stop Rape: seeks to mobilize men to use their strength for creating cultures free from violence, especially men’s violence against women.


  • Futures without Violence: has developed innovative ways to end violence against women, children, and families at home and around the world.

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