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According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2015), protective factors are characteristics associated with a lower likelihood of negative outcomes or that reduce a risk factor’s impact. Protective factors may be seen as positive countering events which can prevent domestic violence as well as other social issues. Most research shows that increasing protective factors on individual and community levels reduces the probability that people will experience domestic violence. It is important to note that increasing protective factors is not a guarantee that someone will not experience abuse; rather, it increases the likelihood that violence will be prevented. The World Health Organization (2005) reports that these protective factors can prevent violence:

  • Completion of secondary education for girls (and boys)
  • Delaying age of marriage to the age of 18
  • Women’s economic autonomy and access to skills training, credit, and employment
  • Social norms that promote gender equality
  • Quality response services (judicial, security/protection, social, and medical) staffed with knowledgeable, skilled, and trained personnel
  • Availability of safe spaces or shelters
  • Access to support groups