Purpose Intimate partner violence (IPV hereinafter) is a leading cause of injury to women.This study in a local South Asian community was aimed at developing socioculturally relevant IPV prevention strategies.
Methods Using participatory methods of theatre, we sought to engage members of a local South Asian community in the development of socioculturally relevant approaches to prevent IPV. We recruited and trained over 30 community members (both adults and youth) to serve as peer educators. In collaboration with peer educators, we created a skit that depicted controlling/abusive behaviours of a partner in an intimate relationship. At a community event, peer educators performed the skit, and event participants were invited to step into the scene and try out different approaches to address a partner’s controlling behaviours. We video-taped these enactments.
Results Of the over 200 participants, about 40 individuals stepped forward to try out what they thought were effective approaches to prevent intimate partner violence. While variations existed in the ways in which participants intervened, the analysis of both verbal and non-verbal behaviours identified several salient themes: de-escalation of conflict, encouragement of the couple’s resolving conflict through dialogue and negotiation, imposition of gender norms, and contestations against the abusive partner’s gender-related beliefs.
Conclusions The use of theatre and peer educators provided a realistic and familiar milieu, which allowed community members to enact strategies that they perceived fit their sociocultural context. Their enactments reflected beliefs and assumptions related to gender, family, and community norms.
Significance and Contributions to Injury and Violence Prevention Science While theatre has been increasingly used to deliver prevention messages in workshop or other psychoeducational settings, the current study is unique in that we used theatre to create socioculturally relevant prevention strategies. This approach can be applicable to other injury prevention efforts to develop socioculturally relevant strategies.