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What can we do to combat Intimate Partner Violence?

  • Blog
  • 25th Nov 2019

At least 1 in 3 women in Latin America have experienced Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). We partnered with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to identify behavioural barriers that IPV survivors and service providers face when tackling this issue in the region and propose solutions to overcome these barriers.

She did not know that what she had lived through was violence. When she decided to seek help, she didn’t know how. Once she knew how, she was afraid of what they were going to ask her, what he would find out, what was going to happen to her the next day, whether they would think it was her fault. When she left the relationship, she was afraid of seeing him again, of not having any income or a roof over her head.”

According to regional estimates, 30% of women in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) have been physically or sexually abused by a partner and approximately 40% of women have been emotionally abused.

Despite governments and service providers in the region undertaking a number of initiatives to prevent and respond to Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), evidence of what works is scarce.

Applying behavioural insights to Latin America and the Caribbean: our new report

To mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, we are launching our new report, written in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The report seeks to leverage insights from behavioral science to expand policymakers’ toolkits, improve the design of survivor services and, ultimately, lead to better life outcomes for women.

Although the journey of IPV survivors may differ considerably across the region, our report is structured around three critical stages of interaction between survivors and service providers:

  1. Seeking: supporting survivors to seek help;
  2. Responding: Improving service providers’ response to survivors;
  3. Sustaining: Sustaining engagement between survivors and service providers.

We aim to provide policymakers and service providers with:

  1. A diagnosis of potential behavioural barriers faced by IPV survivors and service providers (including helplines, the criminal justice system, healthcare services and shelters);
  2. Proposed intervention ideas, informed by behavioural science, that can be tailored to existing services.

                          Behavioural barriers


Putting the report’s recommendations into action 

We hope this report encourages policymakers to test innovative, theory-driven approaches to respond to this global pandemic. We are already putting some of the report’s insights into practice. We are currently working with the IDB in El Salvador to evaluate an intervention seeking to encourage early help seeking among survivors and improve service providers’ detection of IPV. In Chile, we’re working with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Public Prosecutor’s Office to better support survivors through the criminal justice system. We have jointly designed a system that aims to deliver better information and provide more empathetic support to survivors throughout their journey.

While the report’s focus is LAC, many of the barriers we explore affect survivors and service providers around the world and the recommendations we propose could be tailored to a diverse range of contexts. We have applied behavioral science to IPV with police forces in the UK and North America, to help adolescents in South Africa navigate and avoid unhealthy relationships and to encourage bystanders to take action in support of survivors in Georgia and Australia. If you’re interested in working with us on similar projects or want to find out more about our work on IPV, please contact


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