Using empowerment evaluation to facilitate the development of intimate partner and sexual violence prevention programs

Conway Pat, Janet Cresswell, Diane Harmon, Charles Pospishil, Kathy Smith, Jennifer Wages, Lisa Weisz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This article addresses the question, "What factors contributed to successful completion of a needs and resource assessment in local communities, using the empowerment evaluation approach?" Case studies of three successful projects allow the exploration of organizational, community, state, and national factors that contributed to a strong needs and resource assessment, including original data collection, to guide the development of a plan to prevent intimate partner and sexual violence. The overall project was guided by empowerment evaluation principles. Each local community usedadditional conceptual frameworks, including grounded theory, Kolberg's theory of moral development, gender-role attitudes as operationalized by the rape myth acceptance and Olweis' systemic approach to bullying. Local programs focused on specific populations and collected original data through a variety of methods. For instance, one local agency utilized already existing surveys to assess bullying within their public school setting. Another community assessed the attitudes of male sex offenders and other male community members regarding gender-role attitudes, violence, and risk and protective factors for perpetration. A third community administered a random phone survey, examining attitudes toward rape, other violence against women, and gender roles. Each community integrated the results of their original data collection into their needs and resource assessment. Preliminary information regarding the communities' experience with the completion of needs and resource assessments, using the empowerment evaluation framework, indicate that successful projects used specific theories or frameworks to guide data collection. Positive collaboration with evaluators and community prevention coalitions characterized each community's experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-361
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Family Social Work
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
North Dakota, with 640,000 residents, is projected to decrease in population between 2000 and 2010; it has 9.3 persons per square mile, compared with the national rate of 79.6 per square mile (U.S. Census Bureau, 2009). The fastest growing age group is persons older than age 65 years. American Indian and Alaska Native persons constitute 5.4% of the population, up from 3.08% in 1980. They are, on average, younger than the total population (22.6 years American Indian; 37.4 years White) (University of North Dakota, 2004). The North Dakota Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Prevention Program, managed by the North Dakota IPV and SV program and the state’s department of health, combined funding from Rape Prevention Education and the CDC’s Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancements and Leadership Through Alliances (DELTA), and Enhancing and Making Programs Work to End Rape (EMPOWER) programs to support a state coalition. It also funded local programs that were to use the empowerment evaluation and GTO frame-work for developing local prevention programming. The combined project, begun in 2006, was characterized by intensive technical assistance from federal and state staff, including evaluation specialists.


  • Community development
  • Empowerment evaluation
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Needs assessment
  • Primary prevention
  • Sexual violence


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