Approaches to prevent and respond to family violence

Home visitation programs can be effective in preventing family violence before it starts. For example, the Nurse-Family Partnership -a program of nurse home visits to first-time, at-risk mothers-is effective in reducing child physical abuse and neglect.

Preventing and responding to family violence

Preventing and responding to family violence can help to reduce its negative, long-term effects on health, social and economic wellbeing.

There are three main ways to prevent family violence:

  • Stop family violence before it starts (primary prevention)
  • Stop family violence from recurring after it happens (secondary prevention)
  • Respond to the long-term impacts of family violence (tertiary prevention)

Stopping family violence before it starts

It is possible to prevent family violence from happening in the first place by promoting and supporting: 

Evidence-based, validated risk assessment tools to assess and analyze a victim's risks can assist in safety planning and identification of those at high risk. Risk assessment can also be used to help break the cycle of violence by identifying and providing appropriate supports to those at higher risk of committing family violence.

  • safe, stable and nurturing relationships between children and their caregivers
  • healthy relationships and conflict resolution strategies for youth
  • gender equality for women and girls
  • positive male role models who say that violence against women and children is wrong

Stopping family violence after it happens

Resources that respond to victims' immediate needs to help stop family violence from recurring include:

  • justice system supports including police and court-based responses and victim services
  • women's shelters
  • child protection and apprehension

Responding to the long-term impacts of family violence

Some programs help to reduce the long-term impacts of family violence, while preventing it from happening again:

Advocacy-based services for women and children, particularly those that help victims access multiple services in a coordinated way show promise in helping to prevent recurrence of violence and reduce social, legal and health impacts. The Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre is an example of an advocacy centre.
  • certain forms of trauma-based counseling, such as cognitive behavioural therapy
  • permanent civil protection orders can help to reduce future occurrences of violence
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