In jeopardy - new ways of prevention and support in case of intimate partner violence (IPV) in rural areas

Starting point of this research project is the social problem of intimate partner violence which, as prevalence studies show, predominantly affects women. Since intimate partner violence is even more treated as a taboo issue in rural areas, the lack of prevention, counseling and intervention in these parts were rarely in the focal point up until now.

However, physical, psychological and sexual intimate partner violence has serious impacts on the overall health and wellbeing of the victims, their families and social relationships and leads to long-term loss of quality of life for all persons involved. Moreover, studies document high economic costs for the entire society. Since ratification of “Istanbul Convention”, Germany has entered into commitment to take action particularly concerning primary prevention in rural areas. Addressing civil society, the approach of primary prevention constitutes a central component to prevent intimate partner violence, minimize escalation and to break the cycle of violence by increasing awareness and understanding among rural communities and initiating a change of perceptions and attitudes towards IPV.

In view of the above the objective of this interdisciplinary project is to develop and evaluate new paths of primary prevention in a rural model region together with four local project partners. These innovative measures intend to reach “heart and mind” to motivate and enable people to identify intimate partner violence, to speak out and to support those affected in their family, social circle and neighborhood or colleagues.

On the one hand, the interdisciplinary team of researchers roll out an IPV awareness campaign over the course of three years, which is multidimensional and multimedia based. The campaign will be concluded with a “future conference”. On the other hand, the team develops prosocial interactive digital games (“Serious Games”) on the topic of intimate partner violence within in the framework of edutainment. Protagonists of civil society of the model region of all ages test the games. All actions are evaluated by means of qualitative methods. Thus, the answers to the research questions - which impressions and assessments the target groups get of the campaign and games - can be obtained respecting the project objective of primary prevention: removal of taboos, sensitisation, education and activation regarding the social problem of IPV.