Reducing Intimate Partner Violence through Leveraging Cultural Values

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a serious problem that affects communities nationwide, but mainstream interventions do not address the specific needs of immigrant and refugee communities.

In order to help prevent violence among vulnerable populations, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) invested in Strengthening What Works, a pioneering effort to evaluate eight IPV prevention programs for immigrants and refugees.

This summary highlights key insights and recommendations from that initiative.

Key Findings

  • Funders and policymakers seeking to prevent IPV in communities should solicit ideas from the field for the development of initiatives that are responsive to particular populations.

  • Funders and policymakers seeking to prevent IPV in ethnic and minority communities should solicit and support interventions that create and sustain positive cultural values that support healthy relationships.

  • Programs aimed at preventing violence, changing norms and building healthy relationship skills among young people should feature resources and representatives that young people find credible, accessible, and interesting. All social media should be regularly evaluated for currency and resonance.

  • Target populations for IPV prevention should be carefully and periodically reassessed determine the current cultural, linguistic, social, and gender construction. Changes in populations over time may weaken or invalidate the effectiveness of programs developed for past groups.

"As this brief makes clear, creating new cultural norms requires a deep — and often native — cultural knowledge of the communities in which we are trying to affect change," says program officer Wendy Yallowitz. "As funders and practitioners, we need to solicit ideas that reflect this knowledge."

We encourage you to review the recommendations resulting from the study, and ask you to share your thoughts on the RWJF forum and suggestions in response to the following:

  • Who do you know who is doing good work to prevent violence — specifically by trying to change cultural norms?
  • Who is doing work – even those that might be addressing an entirely different issue – that reflect an effective and sincere effort to work with and within communities to create and sustain affirmative cultural values?

Read quote

"The SWW grantees...used deep cultural knowledge to go beyond changing social norms to leveraging and supporting affirmative cultural values."

LTG Associates