Northwest College

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Prevention and Risk Reduction


Sexual violence can have lasting negative effects on victims, their families, friends, and communities.

The goal of sexual violence prevention is to stop it from happening in the first place.

This section offers more information about prevention and risk-reduction techniques. Check out the following pages:

What is the difference between primary prevention and risk-reduction techniques? 

Primary Prevention involves developing comprehensive strategies that stop violence before initial perpetration or victimization.

Risk-reduction techniques equip victims with knowledge, awareness, or self-defense skills to help individuals reduce their own risk (CDC, 2016).

Primary Prevention

Educational sessions are a commonly recognized form of sexual violence prevention work. These sessions often:

  • address attitudes about sexual assault
  • look at the impact of gender roles
  • establish healthy relationships and healthy sexuality
  • discuss sexual consent
  • teach how to set and respect personal boundaries
  • utilize skill-building drills for these topics

Bystander Intervention prevention strategies are often viewed as a form of primary prevention. They seek to change social norms that support sexual violence; they empower men and women to intervene with peers to prevent an assault from occurring (CDC, 2016).

Risk-Reduction Techniques

Risk-reduction techniques focus on potential victims taking precautionary measures to reduce the likelihood of an act of sexual violence.

Risk-reduction techniques include:

  • developing an awareness of rape myths and rape culture
  • understanding rape and sexual assault statistics
  • practicing verbal defenses
  • implementing boundary-setting drills
  • understanding stranger and non-stranger assailant strategies
  • learning about relationship red flags
  • practicing personal safety tips
  • understanding healthy sexuality
  • recognizing the role of alcohol and rape drugs in assaults
  • using a buddy system
  • learning self-defense techniques
  • engaging in alcohol safety if choosing to drink

Comprehensive Strategies

Sexual violence solutions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are just as complex as the problem.

Prevention efforts should ultimately decrease the number of individuals who perpetrate sexual violence and the number of people who are victims.

Individual, relationship, community, and societal factors all influence sexual violence, and comprehensive prevention strategies should address each of these levels. The most common prevention strategies focus on the victim, the perpetrator, or bystanders.

Multiple sessions of adequate length and intensity are needed for educational sessions to be effective. Multiple learning styles and opportunities to practice new skills are also recommended (“Sexual Violence Prevention”).

Prevention and Risk-Reduction at Northwest College

At Northwest College, students are educated about sexual violence and Title IX in First Year Seminar classes, during kick off weekend, during campus-wide sexual violence prevention events, and in the residence halls with multiple programs. For additional risk-reduction skills, students can enroll in Women's Self-Defense and Risk Awareness.