Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancement and Leadership Through Alliances (DELTA)
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a significant public health problem in the United States. Research indicates that IPV exists on a continuum from episodic violence—a single or occasional occurrence—to battering (Johnson, 1995). Battering is more frequent and intensive and involves one partner who develops and maintains control over the other. See our web site for additional information about the magnitude and consequences of IPV.
All forms of IPV, from episodic violence to battering, are preventable. The key to prevention is focusing on first-time perpetration and first-time victimization. Knowledge about the factors that prevent IPV is lacking. CDC is working to better understand the developmental pathways and social circumstances that lead to this type of violence. In addition, the agency is helping organizations evaluate the effectiveness of existing programs to reduce both victimization and perpetration.
The Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancement and Leadership Through Alliances (DELTA) program seeks to reduce the incidence (i.e., number of new cases) of IPV in funded communities. The program addresses the entire continuum of IPV from episodic violence to battering through a variety of activities.
The Family Violence Prevention Services Act was amended in the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act to support the work of Coordinated Community Responses (CCRs) addressing IPV at the local level. Chapter 6 of Title IV (Violence Against Women Act) of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act funded nonprofit organizations to sustain IPV intervention and prevention projects (CCRs) in local communities.
In 2010, the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act was reauthorized. The community demonstration projects were officially replaced with the DELTA name. The reauthorization continues to direct CDC to fund state domestic violence coalitions for the purpose of funding and supporting local efforts to prevent intimate partner violence.
A CCR is an organized effort to prevent and respond to IPV. These efforts can be organized formally (e.g., nonprofit organization) or informally (e.g., group of concerned citizens). CCRs typically involve diverse service sectors (e.g., law enforcement, public health, and faith-based organizations) and populations. Historically, CCRs have focused on providing services to victims, holding batterers accountable, and reducing the number of recurring assaults. Few have concentrated on stopping initial IPV, otherwise known as primary prevention.
CDC was given the responsibility of administering the federal funds provided by this legislation. The monies were first used to fund 10 CCR demonstration projects. To facilitate primary prevention at the community level, CDC began funding the DELTA Program in 2002. Nine state domestic violence coalitions were initially funded; five more were added in 2003.
The federal legislation is intended to support community level efforts. CDC funds state-level domestic violence coalitions to provide prevention-focused training, technical assistance, and funding to local CCRs. A local nonprofit organization serves as the fiscal agent and receives DELTA Program funding to support the local CCR’s adoption of primary prevention principles and practices. CCRs integrate prevention strategies through increased cooperation and coordination among participating sectors.
Primary prevention is the cornerstone of the DELTA Program. Prevention strategies are guided by a set of principles including:
- Preventing first-time perpetration and first-time victimization;
- Reducing risk factors associated with IPV;
- Promoting protective factors that reduce the likelihood of IPV;
- Implementing evidence-supported strategies that incorporate behavior and social change theories; and
- Evaluating prevention strategies and using results to form future plans.
Prevention requires understanding the circumstances and factors that influence violence. CDC uses a four-level, social ecological model to better understand violence and potential strategies for prevention. This model considers the complex interplay between individual, relationship, community, and societal factors, and allows us to address risk and protective factors from multiple domains.
The DELTA Program encourages the development of comprehensive prevention strategies through a continuum of activities that address all levels of the social ecology. It is important that these activities are developmentally appropriate and are conducted over several life stages. This approach is more likely to prevent IPV across a lifetime than any single strategy or policy change.
Individual-level influences are personal history factors that increase the likelihood of becoming an IPV victim or perpetrator. Examples include attitudes and beliefs that support IPV, isolation, and a family history of violence. Prevention strategies at this level are often designed to promote attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that support intimate partnerships based on mutual respect and trust. Specific approaches may include education and life skills training.
Relationship-level influences are factors that increase risk because of relationships with peers, intimate partners, and family members. A person’s closest social circle—peers, partners, and family members—influence their behavior, and contribute to their range of experience (Dahlberg and Krug et al., 2002). Prevention strategies at this level may include mentoring and peer programs designed to promote intimate partnerships based on mutual respect and trust.
The community level of the model examines the contexts in which social relationships are embedded-such as schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods-and seeks to identify the characteristics of these settings that are associated with victims or perpetrators of violence. Prevention strategies at this level are typically designed to impact the climate, processes, and policies in a given system. Social norm and social marketing campaigns are often used to foster community climates that promote intimate partnerships based on mutual respect and trust.
Societal-level influences are larger, macro-level factors, such as gender inequality, religious or cultural belief systems, societal norms, and economic or social policies that influence IPV. Prevention strategies at this level typically involve collaborations by multiple partners to promote social norms, policies, and laws that support gender and economic equality and foster intimate partnerships based on mutual respect and trust.
State domestic violence coalitions that receive DELTA Program funds are working to build IPV prevention capacity within their organization, state, and local communities. Within each DELTA Program state, evaluators are working with the state domestic violence coalitions and local CCRs to assess changes in state and local capacity to prevent IPV and the impact of each CCR’s effort to prevent IPV.
Between 2005 and 2009, the 14 state domestic violence coalitions worked with a diverse group of people from within their state to develop a 5-8 year IPV Prevention Plan. For most of these states, this was the first time a primary prevention plan for IPV had been developed. These plans focus on the strategies needed to build the infrastructure required to prevent IPV as well as the strategies needed to prevent first-time perpetration or first-time victimization. Currently, the 14 state domestic violence coalitions are implementing and evaluating these plans. The success, challenges and lessons learned by DELTA Program grantees in developing, implementing and evaluating their state plans will provide a wealth of information to CDC and others on how to develop an IPV primary prevention infrastructure and address IPV to achieve programmatic goals. Each state domestic violence coalition is also working to integrate primary prevention principles into their own operating structures and processes, develop primary prevention resources, and deliver primary prevention training and technical assistance to various partners throughout their state.
At the local level, state domestic violence coalitions are supporting more than 45 local CCRs. The activities of these CCRs are quite diverse due to the differing needs and circumstances of each community: some CCRs are working with schools to prevent teen dating violence, some are working with the faith community to support healthy relationship development, and others are working with men and boys to prevent first-time male perpetration.
By focusing on multiple levels within each state, CDC is supporting comprehensive efforts to prevent IPV. Many believe that IPV is a community problem requiring a community solution.
The DELTA PREP (Preparing and Raising Expectations for Prevention) Project was funded in in 2007 in a four-year collaborative effort between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the CDC Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. DELTA PREP built on the successes and lessons of the CDC’s DELTA Program and focused on strategies to prevent first-time occurrences of intimate partner violence (IPV).
DELTA PREP funded 19 state domestic violence coalitions to build their organizational capacity for IPV primary prevention work. Through participation in DELTA PREP, these coalitions have integrated primary prevention into their organizational structures and practices. They have expanded and enhanced their organization’s ability to lead and support efforts to stop IPV before it begins and to facilitate and promote primary prevention capacity at the state and community levels. DELTA PREP project coalitions have continued to sustain and grow their primary prevention work beyond the grant period of funding.
Additionally, the DELTA PREP project has advanced national efforts for IPV prevention. DELTA PREP has contributed to knowledge and practice by sharing the DELTA PREP coalitions’ experiences and disseminating project resources.
Johnson MP. Patriarchal terrorism and common couple violence: two forms of violence of against women. Journal of Marriage and the Family. 1995;57(2):283–294.
Dahlberg LL and Krug EG. Violence – a global public health problem. In Krug EG, Dahlberg LL, Mercy JA, Zwi AB, Lozano R, editors. World Report on Violence and Health. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2002, pgs 1–21.