Risk factors are factors associated with a greater likelihood of sexual violence perpetration. They should not be considered direct causes but instead as underlying or contributing factors. Research on known risk factors can be used in combination with community-specific guidance in order to create a tailored program that is also informed by best practice research. It should also be noted that some risk factors for perpetration are much more modifiable than others; this should help inform which risk factors are targeted for change in prevention programming.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has outlined a list of common risk factors for sexual violence perpetration: Sexual Violence: Risk and Protective Factors. The below list should not be considered the only data about underlying causes of sexual violence perpetration but it is the best available evidence we have at this time. According to the CDC "A combination of individual, relational, community, and societal factors contribute to the risk of becoming a perpetrator of SV. Understanding these multilevel factors can help identify various opportunities for prevention.", therefore the table below is organized according to the levels of the Social Ecological Model.
|A List of Common Risk Factors for Sexual Violence Perpetration|
Protective factors may lessen the likelihood of sexual violence victimization or perpetration by buffering against risk. Similar to research on risk factors, protective factors also can be mapped out across the levels of influence. While there is much less data available about known protective factors, the CDC has identified a few protective factors supported in the research.
|Protective Factors for Sexual Violence Perpetration|
- For more examples about applying risk and protective factors, see Appendix B (pages 37 - 60) of Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance's Guidelines for the Primary Prevention of Sexual Violence & Intimate Partner Violence.
- CDC conducted a systematic review of risk and protective factors for SV perpetration and identified a number of factors at the individual and relationship levels that have been consistently supported by research.