The University of Texas at Austin - What Starts Here Changes The World
The University of Texas at Austin Division of Student Affairs

voices against violence


Prevention means changing the conditions and norms that allow violence to occur. Voices Against Violence (VAV) utilizes an approach called primary prevention, which involves cultivating a campus culture where everyone feels safe to be themselves -- one that promotes and values:

  • respect,
  • healthy boundaries,
  • consent, and
  • the worth of people of all identities.

To create this culture, the root causes of violence need to be addressed.

The cultural context for interpersonal violence

All violence involves the behavior and choices of the individual perpetrating the violence. However, preventing interpersonal violence also requires examining what has influenced that person to cause harm. From a young age, individuals receive messages from their families, friends, community leaders and broader society. These messages create “norms,” or the understanding that some behaviors are encouraged and other behaviors are unacceptable. The prohibition of some unacceptable behaviors, such as the violation of someone else's consent, is enforced by federal, state and local law as well as UT Austin policy.

Individuals are influenced by these norms when deciding how to treat their friends, romantic or sexual partners and peers. In turn, these individual decisions impact the entire community by reinforcing existing norms or creating new ones.

VAV utilizes the socio-ecological model, which explains how individuals’ actions interact with the broader culture and community. For more information, read the CDC’s “The Social-Ecological Model: A Framework for Prevention.”

you are embedded in a context

Root causes of interpersonal violence

There are risk factors for perpetrating violence at every level of the socio-ecological model. See the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for examples of these behaviors.

How to help prevent interpersonal violence

Everyone can contribute to preventing interpersonal violence by practicing consent and treating their friends, dates and partners with respect. Violence prevention does not have to be complicated, but it does require a willingness to learn and hold oneself and others accountable.

You can help prevent interpersonal violence by

  • Learning more about consent, healthy relationships and respecting and communicating boundaries
  • Practicing consent and ensuring that the people in your life feel safe to be themselves
  • Holding yourself and others accountable for what they say and do that contribute to violence or harm
  • Learning about BeVocal and Intervening if you hear or observe someone causing harm. Examples of harm include telling a rape joke, making someone feel uncomfortable sexually or using power and control against another person.
  • Talking to friends and family or raising awareness about interpersonal violence on social media. While these are important conversations, many people have been personally impacted by interpersonal violence.
    To minimize the potential to harm or re-traumatize them:
    • When starting a conversation about interpersonal violence, check in first (e.g. “Would it be alright with you if we talk about a discouraging headline I just saw about interpersonal violence?”).
    • When talking about interpersonal violence online, consider using content warnings (e.g. “CW: interpersonal violence”) to let people decide if they feel safe engaging with the content.
  • Get Involved with VAV

Additional Reading on Prevention

PreventConnect - A national online project dedicated to the primary prevention of sexual assault and domestic violence

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Violence prevention information and resources, including prevalence data, definitions and prevention strategies

American College Health Association (ACHA) Shifting the Paradigm - Toolkit for the primary prevention of sexual violence among college communities

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Together we can build a safer campus

UT Counseling and Mental Health Center

UT Counseling and Mental Health Center Voices Against Violence
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About VAV

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Healthy Relationships

Dating and Relationship Violence

Sexual Violence


How to Help a Survivor


Theatre for Dialogue

Get Sexy, Get Consent

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VAV Support Campaign

Be Vocal

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The University of Texas at Austin - What Starts Here Changes The World