What is Prevention?

There are three main types of sexual assault prevention—primary prevention, secondary prevention, and tertiary prevention. The CDC (2004) 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 has 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 Veto Violence graphic below illustrates the different levels of the model and some prevention strategies at each level:


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

Additional Resources on Sexual Violence Prevention Theory and Practice

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, changing organizational practices, and influencing policy and legislation (NSVRC, 2006).

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 is 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.

It is important to include men and boys in prevention efforts. Men and boys must understand the seriousness and prevalence of rape as it affects their community and people they know. Men and boys are important allies in this work, but also can be victims of sexual violence and can be harmed by rape culture. More than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experience sexual violence involving physical contact during their lifetimes (CDC, 2021). The effects of sexual violence do not end after an assault. The effects of sexual violence can last a lifetime. Survivors of sexual violence can experience post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic mental, emotional, and physical health impacts, and negative impacts on employment and economic well-being (CDC, 2021). Understanding these effects can help men to support survivors and combat 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.

Check out some national programs working to engage boys and men in sexual violence prevention below:

A Call to Men

Coaching Boys Into Men

Futures Without Violence Engaging Men and Youth Program

Men Can Stop Rape

Allied Organizations and Prevention

In recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Victim Assistance and Sexual Assault Program (VASAP) has produced informational consent cards, printed in both English and Spanish. The cards are being distributed throughout the community as an important reminder about sexual consent. Computer Animator and Media Designer, Najla Cabello, a graduate of the Savannah College of Arts and Design, volunteered her expertise and computer software resources to develop the animated cards.