Sexual violence (SV) continues to be a significant public health burden nationwide and across Virginia with long-term consequences on society, communities, and individuals. The prevalence of completed or attempted rape among women in the commonwealth is estimated at 16.1%, indicating that nearly 1 in 6 Virginia women are victims of rape. Despite its impact, the full burden is unknown, as it is anticipated that many offenses go unreported by victims in Virginia. Adverse health consequences exist as a result of sexual violence victimization, including increased risk for chronic disease, eating disorders, and suicide. Risk factors for sexual violence are well known, and include factors such as harmful norms around masculinity and femininity, neighborhood poverty, poor parent-child relationships, and lack of non-violent problem solving skills (Wilkins, Tsao, Hertz, Davis, & Klevens, 2014). Research has found factors including community support/connected-ness and connection/commitment to school to be protective against sexual violence perpetration.
The public health approach will be utilized for addressing SV by selecting, implementing, and evaluating selected SV prevention strategies. Virginia will rely on evidence-based strategies and available data to prevent sexual violence; will provide the management, oversight, and monitoring of RPE initiatives sub-recipient resources and activities; will align with the primary prevention goals of CDC; and will support the development of statewide capacity and infrastructure to address SV risk and protective factors.
Virginia’s RPE program will identify and establish public/private partnerships that provide technical assistance and support evaluation capacity of sub-recipients to facilitate and monitor the implementation of prevention programs/practices/polices. Key activities will include conducting a gap analysis of current relationships to inform a new approach to improved partner communication and technical assistance to sub-recipients to enhance local community partnerships. The development of a state action plan is crucial to surging community level interventions. Virginia will develop a state action plan for implementing approaches corresponding to the focus areas outlined in Stop SV. Key activities will include an ongoing quality improvement process for development and implementation. Virginia’s RPE program will partner with an academic partner to develop an evaluation, data management, tracking and reporting plan based on the CDC Evaluation Framework. Tracking SV indicators as outlined in this plan will improve overall evaluation and provide input for more informed implementation efforts. Virginia will partner with academic and agency partners to identify and track SV indicators.
The opportunities within the funding cycle will provide Virginia with resources to surge to a higher level of community intervention capacity. Virginia’s RPE program will partner with its statewide SV and DV coalition and local SV and DV organizations to surge its capacity in addressing community level interventions and associated risk and protective factors. Key activities include mobilizing community coalitions, strengthening organizational policy to protect against SV, and promoting norms change through bystander intervention programs and engaging youth as community leaders. Virginia will continue to plan for surge based on State Action Plan results and infuse strategies based on the focus areas identified in the STOP SV technical package. Virginia’s RPE program will continue to participate in CDC-sponsored program support activities.
Implementation of this application will lead to increased use of the public health approach to violence prevention, increased protective factors and decreased risk factors related to SV, and decreased rates of SV perpetration and victimization.