The Cycle of Violence
Historically, victim services have been segregated by the type of violence perpetrated or the age of the victim, creating artificial silos of service that are less effective. Silos like domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, trafficking, etc., fail to take in to account what research and our own experiences have shown — that the multiple forms of violence and victimization are interconnected. Addressing an issue as integrated as violence through a narrow framework only results in diminished resources, capacity, expertise and funding streams. To improve the effectiveness of violence prevention and intervention services, a more comprehensive and collaborative approach is required. SAFE was created with that goal in mind.
The survivors we work with often experience multiple forms of violence and abuse in their lifetimes. Research has shown that victims of one form of violence can face double or triple the risk of experiencing other forms of violence.1 We also know that one of the best predictors of future victimization is past victimization. In fact, two of the most consistent factors that are associated with future violent outcomes (as a victim and/or perpetrator) are child abuse and exposure to domestic violence.2
According to the Centers for Disease Control:
- Children who experience abuse or neglect are two to three times more likely to experience violence and abuse as adults.
- Children who witness intimate partner violence are six times more likely to experience violence as adults.
- Youth who are violent toward peers are more likely to be violent toward their dating partners.
According to the nonprofit organization Everytown for Gun Safety, of the 156 mass shootings that occurred in the United States between 2009 and 2016, 54% were related to domestic or family violence.
Different forms of violence share many risk factors and protective factors. Many of the same factors that make someone more likely to experience bullying are the same factors that make someone more likely to experience sexual assault. Likewise, many of the same factors that lower the risk of child abuse are the same factors that lower the risk of intimate partner violence. They are all connected and require a coordinated and integrated victim-services model that recognizes these connections and considers the effects of trauma throughout an individual’s lifespan and within their homes and communities.
We created SAFE to maximize the impact of our violence prevention and intervention programs and services and to increase access to services for survivors. At SAFE, a victim of child abuse who reveals a history of sexual exploitation may have information on and access to services they choose. At SAFE, a survivor of sexual assault who has also experienced domestic violence may receive the treatment and services within a single agency. Viewing a survivor as a whole person within the context of their life strengthens collaborations, increases access to services and builds stronger communities.
1Preventing Multiple Forms of Violence: A Strategic Vision for Connecting the Dots. Division of Violence Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016.
2Preventing Violence: A Review of Research, Evaluation, Gaps, and Opportunities. Child Trends and Futures without Violence, 2015.