Locating Primary Prevention: A Global Perspective On How Anti-Violence Organizations Conceptualize and Operationalize Primary Prevention in Their Work
Given the persistent prevalence of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in the lives of girls and women, there has been an increased global emphasis on the importance of conducting primary IPV prevention strategies at multiple ecological system levels (Casey & Lindhorst, 2009). Engaging men as allies in addressing IPV has been promoted as an important strategy with a renewed focus on the primary prevention of IPV (Baynard, Plante, & Monnihan, 2007; Tolman and Edleson, 2011). In the last ten years programs to collaborate with men and boys have proliferated worldwide. However, there has been limited academic inquiry into how anti-violence organizations charged with implementing prevention-based programming position their work within the broad umbrella of prevention. Therefore the purpose of this current study is to describe how anti-violence organizations around the world that partner with men conceptualize and operationalize primary prevention in their work.
Data & Sample: Participants for this study were drawn from a pool of individuals who responded to a global online survey of organizations that had a programmatic component related to partnering with men to end violence. Representatives from 29 organizations from Africa, Australia, Europe, Asia, North and South America who identified as implementing efforts to engage men in violence prevention were interviewed. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted in English over the telephone or via Skype. During the interviews, participants were asked to articulate how their organizations define preventing domestic violence before it begins, and to describe the specific programming they implement in service of their prevention goals.
Data Analysis: Interview data were analyzed using a conventional thematic content analysis approach (Hsieh & Shannon, 2005) using grounded theory techniques of constant comparison within and across cases (Corbin & Strauss, 2007). The first author identified and categorized codes and developed primary themes (Patton, 2002). A codebook was generated to ensure consistency in coding. To promote trustworthiness, the research team discussed and negotiated codes and themes. Memos were used to promote reflexivity. Atlas.ti was used to organize and analyze data.
Findings suggest that globally, programs define prevention broadly and often blend primary, secondary and tertiary-level prevention efforts. Across organizations and regions of the world, prevention was variably defined as preventing new incidences of abuse and transforming perpetrator mindsets, generating community awareness about IPV, redefining masculinity, promoting gender equality and human rights, and advocating for institutional changes. While organizations are using a variety of different approaches to partner with men (such as therapeutic programming, community education and capacity building, and policy advocacy), most efforts operate largely on the level of fostering behavioral, attitudinal or knowledge change among individual men.
Conclusions & Implications
Globally, primary prevention is not a fixed term in the context of IPV. Findings simultaneously suggest that much can be learned across regions from anti-violence organizations’ unique and contextualized approaches to IPV prevention, and that further attention needs to be paid to conceptualizing and operationalizing primary prevention that operates at community, societal and policy levels. Possible next steps towards these dual goals will be discussed.