What is Prevention?

There are three main types of sexual assault prevention—primary prevention, secondary prevention, and tertiary prevention. CALCASA (retrieved online, 2017) describes the three types of prevention in the following ways:

  • Primary Prevention is comprised of activities that take place before sexual violence has occurred to prevent initial perpetration or victimization. Primary Prevention efforts are guided by theory, strategy, and evaluation.
  • Secondary Prevention refers to the immediate responses after the sexual violence has occurred to deal with the short-term consequences. Most of the activities of the 17 Rape Crisis Centers in Maryland  are at this level of prevention through their hotline work, court and hospital accompaniment, and crisis counseling.
  • Tertiary Prevention addresses the long-term responses after sexual violence have occurred to deal with the lasting consequences of violence and sex offender treatment interventions.

Sexual assault prevention can be described using different models and approaches. One model is the “Socio-Ecological Model” of Behavior Change.  This model is used to describe and categorize prevention strategies based on individual, relationship, community and societal influences. The graphic below illustrates the different levels of the model:




Additional Resources on the Socio-Ecological Model Approach to Prevention:

Comprehensive Approaches to Prevention

Comprehensive Prevention involves activities across the “Prevention Spectrum”: strengthening individual knowledge and skills, promoting community education, educating providers, fostering coalitions and networks, challenging organizational practices, and influencing policy and legislation.

Additional Resources on the “Prevention Spectrum” Approach:

Men and Prevention

Men are a critically important partner in preventing sexual violence. Ending rape begins with combating and putting an end to rape culture. Rape culture refers to the ways in which society normalizes and perpetuates sexual violence. Rape culture is created and maintained every day through words and actions that condone, normalize, or trivialize sexual violence. Objectifying comments, demeaning jokes, and victim blaming are just some of the ways that rape culture can be spread, whether it’s in a conversation, on social media, or through text messages. Taking a stand against this pervasive language and behavior is one way that anyone can stand up against rape culture.

Men and boys must understand the seriousness and prevalence of rape as it affects their community and people they know. The effects of sexual assault do not end after an assault. The effects of sexual assault can last a lifetime. Understanding these effects can help men to support survivors and combat rape culture. It is also important to include men and boys in prevention efforts. Men and boys not only act as important allies in this work, but also can be victims of sexual assault and can be harmed by rape culture.

To learn more about how men can get involved in prevention efforts, check out MCASA’s How Guys Can Help Prevent Sexual Violence On Campus’ brochure.