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Press release

The Behavioural Insights Team and The Inter-American Development Bank unveil new report to help tackle intimate partner violence in Latin America

25th Nov 2019
  • Approximately 1 in 3 women across Latin America have experienced Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)
  • New joint BIT/IDB report on IPV in the region brings insights from behavioural science to help policymakers improve the design of their services for IPV survivors


To mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) are together publishing a landmark new report today that draws attention to the current epidemic of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) against women across Latin America and the Caribbean and proposes practical ideas for addressing this critical issue.

UN figures confirm that IPV is a leading cause of death, accounting for 34 percent of all female murders worldwide. It has severe physical, mental and reproductive health consequences for survivors and their dependents and poses large social and economic costs to present and future generations according to the WHO. Confronting this issue head-on is of vital importance not just to the victims and survivors themselves, but to society as a whole.

Using insights from behavioural science, including behavioral economics, social psychology and neuroscience, with extensive research and analysis and interviews with frontline service providers in El Salvador, Honduras, Dominican Republic and Argentina, the report provides practical and achievable intervention ideas for policymakers and service providers who support and respond to the needs of survivors of IPV in Latin America. 

The BIT/IDB 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 

The BIT/IDB report divides the key service areas for IPV survivors into five groups, with specific proposals for each. The five services covered, with examples of behaviourally-informed solutions proposed in the report, are:

  1. Helplines: For example, removing traces of calls to IPV helplines on mobile phones could minimize fear of repercussions and inserting messages while survivors wait for their call to be answered could help to reassure them. 
  2. The criminal justice system: Here protocols for frontline officers outlining effective evidence gathering could improve prosecution rates. Ensuring more frequent communication and better support to survivors, through advocates or family members, could reduce drop-out.
  3. Health sector: Emphasising confidentiality and using discreet channels, such as computer-assisted technology or paper questionnaires, may reduce the stigma and fear of judgement associated with disclosing IPV.
  4. Mental health services: Efforts should be made to normalise the use of mental health services within the region, for instance by emphasising the number of survivors who have sought psychological support. Peer support groups could also be utilised to encourage survivors to  continue their treatment programmes. 
  5. Shelters: The term ‘shelter’ can carry negative connotations so alternative words and descriptions could help to reduce stigma. Former shelter residents could be employed as mentors to support survivors entering shelters and help reduce premature departures.

This is just a selection. The full report contains dozens of  practical solutions identified as areas where behavioral insights can be applied to a diverse set of services, at all stages, to improve outcomes for IPV survivors. 

“Governments’ responses to Intimate Partner Violence should aim to protect and empower survivors. However, rigorous evidence as to what works best to meet survivors’ needs is still scarce. Our report with the Inter-American Development Bank aims to leverage insights from behavioural science to expand policymakers’ toolkits, introduce evidence-based recommendations to improve the design of survivor services and, ultimately, lead to better life outcomes for women,” said Chloe Bustin, Advisor, International Programmes, BIT and report co-author

Download the full report here.

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About the Behavioural Insights Team

The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) is the world’s leading behavioural science consultancy, working around the world to improve people’s lives.  

Through its teams in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, BIT works in partnership with governments, local authorities, businesses and NGOs in over 30 countries, often using simple changes to tackle major policy problems and deliver improved public services and social outcomes.

BIT was established by the UK government in 2010 and in 2014 became an independent social purpose company, owned by the Cabinet Office, innovation charity Nesta, and BIT employees.  For more information visit

About the InterAmerican Development Bank

The Inter-American Development Bank is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research and provides policy advice, technical assistance and training to public and private sector clients throughout the region.

For further information contact:

Richard O’Brien
Behavioural Insights Team, London
+44 7768 938209

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