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Evaluating the strength of a message that works to communicate domestic violence prevention

Shaping powerful messages that cut through the clutter to drive change.

Effectively communicating that preventing domestic violence is possible through anti-oppression work — that is, addressing gender, racial, economic, health and other systemic inequities — is almost as important as the anti-oppression work itself. To ensure external communication would be meaningful, digestible and clear among the general public, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence deployed a survey to test domestic violence prevention messages.

The study surveyed 1,536 Pennsylvanians ages 18 and over with quotas set to match the Pennsylvania census distribution on gender, age and ethnicity. The project was made possible and fully funded by the CDC DELTA Impact COVID-19 supplemental funding.

Here are the important takeaways to inform prevention-based messaging.

Key Takeaways

What learnings from the research can be applied to deliver messages that resonate?

Messages should build up to prevention.

Structure messages so there is a logical progression from awareness of domestic violence to prevention. Prevention messaging must first be grounded in an understanding of what domestic violence is and its impacts. With many misconceptions and a general lack of understanding about domestic violence, it’s imperative to level set the national conversation.

Messages should make prevention something more tangible, making it possible for everyone to take action.

Statements that message directly to domestic violence prevention, made possible through anti-oppression actions, can feel overwhelming for the average person. Messages should start small, communicating to audiences that every action no matter how little is impactful.

Messages should educate, captivate and inspire through common language that is easy to understand, relatable and meaningful.

Based on the survey’s tested messages, messages that activated empathy by featuring people instead of policy performed better on key metrics. Therefore, give audiences someone to connect to and use powerful words to grab their attention.

View the Report