Posted at: 03/01/2013 6:29 PM
By: Brittany Lewis
Local County Working to Prevent Sexual and Domestic Violence
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- One in three Minnesota women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Now one local county is working to prevent that.
There is a pilot program in Winona County aimed at preventing sexual and domestic violence.
For many years, the focus has been on intervention. Things like response times to calls of domestic violence and how to help victims after they’ve been abused. This primary prevention concept works to change the way the entire community thinks about sexual and domestic violence as a way to prevent it.
"One in three women are being sexually assaulted in their lifetime. One in three are being beaten by a man she's in a relationship with in her lifetime in MN. So something has to change."
The group working on the Winona County primary prevention of sexual violence believes that change will come by changing the way the community thinks.
"Intervention is not, can't be done on its own. Primary prevention is so interwoven with that intervention work,” said Bethany Ablan, an advocate at the Women’s Resource Center in Winona.
"That much violence cannot be happening without widespread cultural support,” said Chuck Derry, a consultant working on the program.
The prevention starts with how even the youngest in the community think about women and girls.
"The worst thing I could be when I was two and half feet tall was the other half of the population. Don't run like a girl, don't be anything like a girl,” said Derry.
And takes a look at how companies help to prevent sexual and domestic violence.
"Looking at what are the policies, organizational practices, public policies that could change to shift that environment,” said Derry.
Winona County was given a grant of $30,000. Some of that money went to a community needs assessment to find what the community knew about the issue and how they felt about it. The rest will go to activities and initiatives to prevent the abuse.
"Part of the challenge is changing the perception that this is an individual problem. This is really a community problem and it takes community solutions,” said Derry.
A new concept in the state that this group in Winona County hopes to spread.
"Primary prevention is incredibly vital for the entire movement as a whole,” said Alban.
"It's funny how many communities don't think it's happening. But it's happening everywhere,” said Derry.
One of the groups the prevention plan wants to get more involved is men. The majority of these crimes are committed by men so they hope they will lower the crime rate, but having more men involved.