At ICADV we know that violence is preventable, and every day we are working towards our vision of a world where all intimate relationships are non-violent and equitable. While want to eliminate violence, and we also want to promote safe, supported, and respectful relationships. We work for equity, across identities and multiple types of relationships, to ensure that our physical safety and emotional wellbeing are respected in our intimate relationships. At ICADV, we are working to make safe and respectful relationship behavior the easy and expected choice. To create relationships that are equitable and non-violent, we believe we have to fundamentally change the ways that we use power in relationships. We work to move from a model that celebrates competition and supports the use of power over others to one that celebrates shared, collaborative, and collective power.
How We Do It
Understanding the Problem of Violence
Physical acts of violence are prevalent, normalized and even justified in our culture. From spanking within families to wars between countries, most of us believe that some acts of violence, for punishment or correction, are justifiable. Additionally, societal standards about how we value people based on their perceived identities—gender, ethnicity, sexual identity or orientation, age or abilities, among many others—gives some people more permission to exercise power in abusive ways than others. To create relationships that are equitable and non-violent, we believe that we have to fundamentally change the ways that we use power in relationships. We work to move from a model that celebrates competition and supports the use of power over others to one that celebrates shared, collaborative and collective power.
Behaving in controlling ways is a choice that’s available to most of us, most of the time. Some of us act on that choice, but most of us don’t. Why is that?
Though we know that intimate partner violence can and does happen across all groups of people, we believe that differences in exposures, experiences and opportunities results in different motivations for the use of abuse. In a culture that often equates success with financial and material success, we believe that those of us with experiences of significant disadvantage may feel motivated to exercise power over those in our closest relationships in order to compensate for feeling disempowered, devalued or disrespected.
On the other end of the spectrum, we believe that those of us with life experiences of unearned privilege (because of the status that society confers on us according to our identities) may choose to exercise power over others in our relationships in order to reinforce that privilege. We see these motivations playing out among individuals, but we also see the broader influence of histories of trauma for some communities and histories of privilege for others.
This means that we can’t solve the problem of violence by educating people abusive behaviors and telling them not to engage in them – because behavior is not driven by facts alone. To be effective, we have to address the cultural conditions that give people permission to exercise power over others, and also the motivations that increase the likelihood that some of us will make that choice. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t hold individuals accountable for the harms that they abuse; it just means that in the long-run, we will be most effective at preventing violence when we change the cultural context that enables it.
Our Theory of Change
We believe that three key societal conditions have to be met in order to accomplish our vision where all relationships are equitable and free from violence. It breaks down like this:
Respectful relationship behaviors is the easy/desirable choice
Abuse is not an option that someone feels they need to choose
Abuse is not an easily-available option for someone to choose
The work to promote respectful community environments that deter multiple forms of violence creates lots of opportunities for action. While we have unlimited passion for this work, we are often limited in the resources needed to complete all of it, all of the time. Therefore, we try to make careful decisions about the prevention strategies we choose to take on, in order to maximize our impact. Our commitment to preventing violence requires us to be disciplined and strategic in the actions that we take. ICADV created the E4 Framework to help us assess proposed prevention strategies to ensure that they’re the best ones for moving us towards our vision.