NJ State Sexual Violence Prevention Plan

Project EMPOWER Overview

In 2006, the CDC selected NJ as one of the six pilot sites for the EMPOWER (Enhancing and Making Programs and Outcomes Work to End Rape) project to build the capacity of states to do primary prevention work--preventing the perpetration of sexual violence before it occurs. A diverse team of stakeholders including NJCASA helped create a comprehensive primary prevention plan specific to NJ.The 2010 – 2020 New Jersey Sexual Violence Prevention Plan is the result of a three year collaborative effort by national, state and local partners.

Historically New Jersey focused most of its efforts on crisis response and survivor treatment only after an incident of sexual violence had occurred. Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this plan represents a proactive, cutting edge and comprehensive set of actions to stop sexual violence before it occurs in New Jersey.

The Plan includes 6 major goals focusing on factors that are associated with an increased likelihood of committing acts of sexual violence:

  • Develop Community Connectedness: Males aged 13 to 39 and those exposed to family and community violence are at highest risk for perpetrating sexual violence. Strategies under this goal seek to connect these males to community supports that promote hope, security, and a sense of options.
  • Encourage Bystander Intervention: Pro-Social Moral Reasoning skills can curb risky behaviors and attitudes before offending behavior occurs. Strategies under this goal work to enhance these skills in middle-school through college-aged students and the institutions that serve them.
  • Support Gender Equality & Healthy Social Norms: Communities that are likely to blame victims and that have rigid gender roles place females at greater risk of being victimized. Strategies under this goal seeks to create social norms that support gender equality, healthy sexuality, and increased focus on male accountability for acts of sexual violence.
  • Cultivate Empathy and Attachment: People with little empathy or attachment are at greater risk of perpetrating sexual violence. Since these traits are formed early in life and are affected by exposure to abuse and neglect, strategies seek to increase empathy skills among young, at-risk children and promote their healthy attachment to caregivers and parents.
  • Promote Policies to Protect Disabled and Incarcerated Populations: Data shows these populations experience higher levels of victimization and perpetration. Strategies under this goal seeks to strengthen institutional polices aimed at increasing supervision and risk screening of people in jails, prisons, detention facilities, and group residences for the disabled.
  • Expand Media Literacy Skills: People exposed to uncensored, sexualized media without sufficient ability to judge and question their messages may develop high-risk norms regarding sexual violence. Strategies under this goal seek to teach people to identify and critique negative sexualized mass media and understand its impact.

A key implementation partner in our prevention work are our sexual violence program members; 21 county based and Rutgers University, each of whom have developed their local primary prevention plans and are coordinating their prevention efforts with local communities, schools and colleges.