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Research Project

A youth-centered community-based intimate partner violence prevention program for immigrant communities in the United States

The specific aims of the project are: AIM 1: Use a community-based participatory approach to co-design the Y-ACT implementation Toolkit to support community ownership and the training of youth facilitators, and to develop an implementation blueprint. AIM 2: Determine feasibility and acceptability of Y-ACT when carried out by youth facilitators with community members.

Principal Investigator
Abboud, Sarah
Start Date
End Date
Funding Source
Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation


Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a significant public health problem. In the US, 1 in 4 women experience IPV and/or non-partner violence in their lifetime. 70% experience their first victimization before the age of 25 making IPV a significant threat to the health of youth. IPV is conceptualized as a product of multiple, interacting factors at the individual, interpersonal, and societal levels, and is associated with adverse health outcomes. In immigrant communities, IPV rates are higher than the general population and range between 45-80%. Immigrant communities benefit less from the universal violence prevention programs implemented in schools than non-immigrant groups, in part, because contextual factors, such as acculturative stress, difficulties in communication, discrimination, limited knowledge of legal protections and services, social isolation, and socio-economic inequalities interact to amplify vulnerability to IPV. IPV can be disrupted with early prevention. Arab immigrants are classified as “white” by the US government, rendering them an invisible ethnic minority group with unaddressed health needs. This unique form of structural violence increases vulnerability to IPV. Since 9/11 and with recent political events, racism and systemic discrimination against Arabs have increased, exacerbated their health disparities, and worsened their vulnerabilities to violence and trauma. Arab women face multilevel barriers in reporting IPV and utilization of social services including shame, family dishonor, self-blame, traditional social and gender norms, unawareness of resources at the individual and interpersonal levels, and increased stereotypes, racism, and Islamophobia at the community and societal levels. Most evidence-based IPV prevention interventions focus on individual-level factors even though social norms, defined as standards or rules for (in)appropriate interactional behavior among people, are highly influential on individual behaviors, including those that foster or mitigate IPV and its prevention. Evidence produced outside the US shows that multi-level and community-oriented IPV prevention interventions can change social norms related to IPV. Evidence also shows that youth participation in program development and implementation increases positive program impact; however, youth are an under-utilized resource in IPV research. Given the health impact of IPV on youth, youthcentered interventions are urgently needed and can advance normative change and challenge the intergenerational transfer of harmful social norms (e.g. traditional gender roles, male dominance and sexual entitlement, tolerance for violence). Our goal is to adapt a multilevel and evidence-based IPV prevention intervention for use among US immigrant communities that will fill a major gap and improve long-term health and well-being by promoting gender equity.