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SEEKING SUPPORT?
The Alliance has compiled a number of resources available for survivors, their friends and families, and professionals assisting survivors in New York City.

Framework for Prevention

At the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault, we believe that in order to end sexual violence in New York City we must develop prevention programs that are:

1. Focused on Norms Change. Borrowing from the social ecological framework, we believe that environment influences behavior and that in order to successfully prevent sexual violence we need to address the norms that are conducive to, or tolerant of sexual violence. Norms are a key mechanism by which institutions and organizations shape behaviors, positively and negatively (Fujie Parks, Cohen and Kravitz-Wirtz, 2007). Norms are standards or unspoken rules that are socially enforced and provide a model for behavior. Sexual violence will not end unless the prevailing norms of socialization and acceptance of sexual violence are challenged and changed.

2. Comprehensive and Multidisciplinary. No one single program will end sexual violence. We believe in utilizing a spectrum or continuum of activities that are aimed at individual, community, and systems level change. This requires participation from multiple sectors and stakeholders. As such, we utilize the Spectrum of Prevention model developed by the Prevention Institute.

3. Participatory. Systematic changes are impossible without active community involvement. We have adopted Participatory Action Research (PAR) as the path toward the critical next step in reaching out to communities that are underserved in these systems in order to create new partnerships and collectively work towards ending sexual violence in New York City. The PAR process includes meaningful community involvement in all phases, power-sharing between program staff and the community, mutual respect and bi-directional learning from everyone involved, and a focus on action. (White, Suchowierska and Campbell, 2004).

4. Engaging Community Leaders as Agents of Change. Following our norms approach, we believe there are key champion and leaders that represent the "tipping points" to changing social norms. These people are respected and looked up to in their communities and are key allies in ending sexual violence. We utilize community organizing to actively engage and further develop the leadership of these key champions to prevent sexual violence.

5. Stage-specific. We believe that communities are in different stages of readiness for primary prevention. Community readiness is the degree to which a community is prepared to take action on a particular health or social issue (Oetting, et al, 1995). Interventions must be challenging enough to move a community forward, but efforts that are too ambitious are likely to fail because community members will not be able to respond (Plested, et al., 2005). It is important to be clear that the concept of community readiness is not that some communities are ready while others are not. Rather, communities differ in the degree to which they are ready for action. If a community is at a very low level of readiness, then direct efforts such as awareness-raising campaigns will need to be made toward improving the level of readiness. If a community is at a mid or high level of readiness, then that community can begin designing an action agenda. We believe in meeting NYC communities where they are. Thus, all of our prevention work begins with community-based readiness assessments.

6. Solution-Based and Positively Focused. We strive to envision a city without sexual violence. Our prevention work is grounded in promoting a positive set of behaviors through the creation of environments and norms that promote those behaviors instead of focusing solely on eliminating negative behaviors. We see the outcome of our prevention work as building healthy behaviors and healthy communities. We also understand the importance of working with communities to clearly define what the term "healthy" means in our prevention work.

7. Integrated and Collaborative. Many social movements are focused on changing social norms and behaviors. The norms that allow sexual violence to continue in our city also allow for several other unhealthy behaviors and norms (such as behaviors that lead to HIV transmission, general violence, bullying, hate crimes, etc.) Instead of creating separate prevention movements, we should work together to comprehensively change the social norms that affect these behaviors. We believe in working across sectors and utilizing and sharing best practices and knowledge with our allies in other movements.