Illinois State University
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Our Approach

Health Promotion and Wellness efforts aim to address sexual violence by applying the public health framework of primary prevention. The purpose of primary prevention is to try and prevent violence before it occurs by eliminating exposure to situations that could lead to violence, changing behaviors that could lead to violence, and creating an overall culture of respect that does not tolerate any type of violence.

Types of Prevention    |   Socio-Ecological Model    |    Causes of Violence    |    Violence Red Flags

Types of Prevention

In public health, there are three types of prevention. Health Promotion and Wellness’s violence prevention work is mainly within the realm of primary prevention, yet it is important to understand all three types.

  • Primary Prevention: aimed at the general population, primary prevention seeks to reduce incidences by preventing risk and vulnerability. Examples include education and legislation about proper seat belt use, regular exams/screenings to monitor risk factors for illness, and education about health behaviors such as good nutrition and the effects of tobacco.
  • Secondary Prevention: targets and existing risk factor and seeks to remove or reduce it. Examples include recommending regular exams/screenings for people with known risk factors for an illness and providing workplace modifications for injured works.
  • Tertiary Prevention: implemented when a condition exists and seeks to minimize further complications or negative outcomes. Examples include cardiac rehabilitation after a heart attack, patient support groups. 

Additional information on these types of prevention.

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Socio-Ecological Model

Health Promotion and Wellness focuses on primary prevention through the implementation of the Socio-Ecological Model (SEM) . The Socio-Ecological Model incorporates multiple levels of primary prevention ranging from personal to societal. Illinois State University and Bloomington-Normal have developed programs, policies, and initiatives that work with national components to address each level.

 socio-ecological model

 Individual Level

Interpersonal/Relationship Level

Community/Organizational Level

Public Policy/Societal Level


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Causes of Violence

Research on violence has increased our understanding of factors that make some individuals more likely to commit violence  

Below are factors that increases the likelihood of a person committing a violent act. These risk factors are not direct causes of violence. Instead, risk factors contribute to violence.

Individual Risk Factors

  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Delinquency
  • Empathic deficits
  • General aggressiveness and acceptance of violence
  • Early sexual initiation
  • Coercive sexual fantasies
  • Preference for impersonal sex and sexual-risk taking
  • Exposure to sexually explicit media
  • Hostility towards women
  • Adherence to traditional gender role norms
  • Hyper-masculinity
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Prior sexual victimization and/or sexual criminal history

Interpersonal/Relationship Risk Factors

  • Family environment characterized by physical violence and conflict
  • Childhood history of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
  • Emotionally unsupportive family environment
  • Poor parent-child relationships, particularly with fathers
  • Association with sexually aggressive, hypermasculine, and delinquent peers
  • Involvement in a violent or abusive intimate relationship

Community/Organizational Risk Factors

  • Poverty
  • Lack of employment opportunities
  • Lack of institutional support from police and judicial system
  • General tolerance of sexual violence within the community
  • Weak community sanctions against sexual violence perpetrators.    

Societal Risk Factors

  • Poverty
  • Lack of employment opportunities
  • Lack of institutional support from police and judicial system
  • General tolerance of sexual violence within the community
  • Weak community sanctions against sexual violence perpetrators

Protective Factors: anything that decreases the likelihood of a person being a perpetrator / committing a violent act. Research in this area is ongoing; however, there are a few protective factors that have been identified.

  • Parental use of reasoning to resolve family conflict
  • Emotional health and connectedness
  • Academic achievement
  • Empathy and concern for how one’s actions affect others

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Violence Red Flags

Watch out for people that:

  • Do not listen to you, ignore what you say, talk over you or pretend not to hear you. Such individuals may have little respect for others and would be more likely to hear "no" as meaning "convince me."
  • Ignore your personal space boundaries, such as standing or walking too close or touching you without permission.
  • Push you to drink beyond your tolerance level or wait to make a sexual advance until you are extremely intoxicated. Alcohol is the #1 drug used to commit sexual violence.
  • Express anger or aggression frequently. Hostile feelings can easily be translated into hostile acts.
  • Uses hostile or possessive language about others, such as “bitch”, “whore”, or “stupid” or other derogatory language. They may refer to their partner as their possession. This shows that the individual may not see others as human-beings, but as objects that they own and can do with as they wish.
  • Do what they want regardless of what you want. A person may do this in little ways--for example, by making all the decisions about what you both will do.
  • Decide where to go without asking your opinion; later they may be likely to make the decision about whether you are ready to have sex with them.
  • Try to make you feel guilty, or accuse you of being "uptight" if you resist their overtures.
  • Act excessively jealous or possessive.
  • Prevent you from seeing or talking to friends or family members, by keeping you isolated and separated from your support network.
  • Have stereotypical or unrealistic ideas about gender roles. Such perpetrators are not likely to take objections to sex seriously.
  • Drink heavily. A "mean drunk" can often get aggressive, angry, or violent if they are rejected.

Friends Raping Friends, Could it Happen to You? The Project on the Status and Education of Women, Association of American Colleges, 1997

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2019-09-25T11:05:11.741-05:00 2019