‘A sense of community that people can count on’ or ‘Not my business’?: Opportunities to leverage rural norms to prevent violence

Katherine Lymn

MPH, Community Health Promotion

Rachel Widome

Violence, prevention

In rural communities, social norms have been theorized to have a unique relationship with intimate partner violence (IPV) in that close-knit community values of kindness do not extend to caring for IPV victims or trying to prevent harm. This study uses data from group interviews with communities across a rural state to examine how social norms show up related to IPV. Interviewees discussed community norms and how they would facilitate or hinder a person in their community to intervene in a potentially harmful situation involving others. For example, although empathy emerged as a community value, a norm of seeing IPV as a private matter was also endorsed, suggesting that intervention due to empathy for a victim may be withheld in less comfortable or certain situations. Norms are discussed and presented using a tested messaging framework. Interview themes and messaging guidance offer tools for engaging rural community members in everyday acts of prevention.

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