Prevention Through Liberation: Theory and Practice of Anti-Oppression as Primary Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence
Thesis: Oppression is a root cause of sexual and domestic violence. Therefore, doing anti-oppression work is sexual violence prevention.
Many sexual and/or domestic violence prevention efforts seek to change conditions that directly contribute or relate to such violence. For example, they may strive to improve young people’s understanding of, and ability or willingness to seek, enthusiastic consent before engaging in sexual activity. We applaud these and other prevention efforts, but here we go deeper in addressing root causes of sexual and domestic violence.
In Prevention Through Liberation, we seek to engage marginalized communities – our own and others – in efforts to shift focus, add perspective, and generate both theory and practice of holistic, anti-oppression-based sexual and domestic violence prevention. This is prevention work by and for marginalized communities.
Prevention Through Liberation theory stems from two basic and connected questions. First, what causes sexual and domestic violence? It is commonly understood that domestic violence and sexual assault are based in power differences, not only at an individual level but also structurally in systems of power, also known as oppression. Second, what is oppression?
In this paper, we suggest that any work that dismantles oppression and promotes liberation contributes, directly or indirectly, to sexual and domestic violence prevention and sexual health promotion. We explore the links between anti-oppression work and the prevention of sexual and domestic violence. Further, we are committed to both infusing existing violence prevention work with anti-oppression principles and practices, and to fostering new approaches to violence prevention that are deeply grounded in anti-oppression theory and practice.
Prevention Through Liberation is both a theory or framework and a specific project. This paper will first describe the theory (including philosophy, principles, concepts, and values) then lay out the project (its goals, origins, funding, scope, and intentions for future). The paper concludes with aspirations and a call to action.