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Root Causes of Gender-Based Violence


When we consider a societal or community problem, it’s sometimes hard to see past the symptoms of that problem to get at the real cause.  It can be easier to deal with the concrete, immediate factors rather than the complex, far-reaching dynamics.  But to get to real change, we must address the underlying issues in order for conditions to improve. At Blackburn Center, we believe that if we want to end gender-based violence, we must eliminate the root causes of that violence.  


Understanding root causes can be difficult, as it requires us to look beyond what we see in front of us and attempt to see the more complicated factors that are driving the problem.  For example, many cities struggle with homelessness.  Several years ago, researchers conducted a study related to homelessness in a large metropolitan area, concluding that the city leaders had not met their goal of reducing the incidence of homelessness.  The city, though they had made a commitment to ending homelessness, had stopped well short of core change by focusing all of their resources on building homeless shelters in the city.  This was certainly needed on an immediate basis – but they missed the root causes of homelessness.  Homelessness is not caused by a lack of shelters.  If they were trying to END homelessness, their resources would have been better spent on addressing issues like the lack of affordable housing, the significant gaps in job training and education, and the lack of availability of jobs with sustainable wages.


Of course, an effective approach to a solution requires a two-pronged approach that addresses the immediate problem and looks at the root causes.  As an analogy, if the fire inspector came to your house and said your wiring was bad, what would you do?  Put fire extinguishers in every room of the house, OR rewire?  Until you got the rewiring done, you’d definitely want to have a supply of fire extinguishers – but you probably wouldn’t stop there. 

This is Blackburn Center’s approach to gender-based violence.  Since 1976, we have offered services to victims of domestic and sexual violence and other types of crime and violence, and we will continue to do so until our services are no longer needed.  At the same time, we will work to address the root causes of gender-based violence so domestic and sexual violence will not longer be so prevalent in our community and society as a whole.  These root causes include:


  • Objectification and degradation of women in our media

  • Rape culture

  • Harmful gender norms

  • Inequality



Blackburn Center is committed to social transformation and to understanding the root causes of gender-based violence so that we can end it. If you would like to support our mission, please consider a donation to support Blackburn Center today.

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