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2019-20 IEFV Funded Projects

The Initiative to End Family Violence (IEFV) is pleased to support multiple grants utilizing innovative interdisciplinary approaches that target family violence. The 2019-20 funded projects are included below.

Interdisciplinary Research and Collaborative-Building Grants

  • Funding Period: July 2019 – June 2020

An Educational Intervention Addressing Campus Climate on Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Assault

  • Candace Burton, School of Nursing
  • Beth England-Mackie, Student Wellness and Health Promotion
  • Timothy Overby, Canvas Union

As many as 36% of U.S. college students report experiencing unwanted sexual contact (sexual assault [SA]) or intimate partner violence (IPV) during higher education. Many do not initially identify the experience as an assault, nor do they report it to campus or law enforcement authorities. Existing literature suggests that ambivalence, uncertainty, disempowerment, and assumptions about the nature of sexual interactions and relationships can complicate students’ thought processes about whether or not an experience constitutes SA and/or IPV. Our intervention approaches violence prevention, reduction, and intervention from a holistic and community-based perspective that targets the UCI student population. The intervention utilizes researcher-practitioner partnerships to address content including feminist and critical gender theories, historical and cultural examinations of violence, and a discourse analysis approach to contemporary responses to victim-survivors. Combined with a martial arts-based education addressing the impact of intimate violence (IPV and/or SA) and individual empowerment, this work aims to reduce both tolerance for and incidence of SA and IPV in the UCI campus setting.

Intimate Partner Violence in First and Second Generation Latina Immigrants: A Pilot Study

  • Ilona Yim, Department of Psychological Science
  • Belinda Campos, Department of Chicano/Latino Studies and School of Medicine PRIME LC
  • Jenna Riis, Department of Psychological Science

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) occurs frequently and has significant consequences for survivors’ health. While studies consistently suggest a link between stress and disease risk in IPV victims, less is known about the biobehavioral pathways linking stress and disease in this group of individuals. Moreover, in IPV research as well as in the broader stress literature, the sociocultural context in which stress occurs is often insufficiently considered. We here propose to conduct a pilot study addressing the following two specific aims: 1) To test whether experiences of IPV are associated with changes in biological responses to an acute laboratory stressor and with biological indicators of stress-related disease. And 2) To test whether cultural harmony is higher in women without IPV victimization compared to women with experience of IPV. 40 female Latina women with (n = 20) and without (n = 20) experience of IPV will be recruited into the study. All women will participate in a laboratory stress protocol, and we will test whether biological stress reactivity (cortisol, alpha amylase, uric acid and 3 inflammatory markers) and biological markers of systemic inflammation (C-reactive protein) and aging (telomere length) differ between women with and without IPV. Moreover, we will conduct analyses to test whether these groups differ in terms of the degree of cultural harmony between their Latino and U.S. culture. While this pilot study in and of itself has implications for IPV victims as well as for immigrant health, our hope is that this pilot study will further provide us with preliminary data that can serve as pilot data for a larger, external grant proposal.

The Anticarceral Feminist Participatory Research Initiative

  • Emily Thuma, Gender and Sexuality Studies
  • Alisa Bierria, Ethinic Studies, UC Riverside
The Feminist Decarceral Research Initiative brings together UC and non-UC faculty and graduate students, community organizers, and formerly incarcerated advocates to create research-based resources that address the criminalization and decriminalization of survivors of sexual and domestic violence. The Initiative works in partnership with the national organization Survived and Punished.

Kavanaugh-Ford: A Triggering Event?

  • Roxane Cohen Silver, Dept. of Psychological Science
  • E. Alison Holman, School of Nursing
  • Pasha Dashtgard, Dept. of Psychological Science (Grad Student)
  • Daniel Relihan, Dept. of Psychological Science (Grad Student)
  • Emma Grisham, Dept. of Psychological Science (Grad Student)
  • Nickolas Jones, Dept. of Psychological Science (Post-Doc)

In September, 2018, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified in front of the U.S. Senate that she had been sexually assaulted by then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who had been nominated to sit on the U.S. Supreme Count. The hearing took place in the broader context of the #MeToo movement, through which many survivors of sexual assault publicly revealed experiences of sexual and interpersonal violence. The hearing was televised live, drawing much media attention. The first wave of this study examined exposure and responses to the media coverage of the Kavanaugh-Ford hearing among a nationally-representative sample of 4,894 Americans. Data collection occurred during a 10-day period within a week of the hearing and around Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation vote. The study examined whether consumption of media related to the hearing served as a trigger to rekindle stress-related symptomatology in survivors of sexual assault. A follow-up data collection among this sample is planned for the fall, which will examine the role of this media exposure in respondents’ mental and physical health over time.

Modeling Brain Trauma in Children

  • Dr. Frithjof Kruggel, Dept. of Biomedical Engineering
  • Gultekin Gulsen, Dept. of Radiological Sciences
  • Lizhi Sun, Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Dr. Sandra Murray, Dept. of Pediatrics

Infants and children are often referred to emergency departments as a result of falls. Child abuse is suspected if a significant brain injury incurred from a short fall. Little is known how an impact actually affects the brain. A likely reason for this missing knowledge is that conducting scientific impact experiments in humans is unethical. Results of feasible animal experiments are difficult to carry over to humans. We plan to develop a computer-based system to simulate impacts onto a child’s brain. Features of this system are that: (1) a virtual environment (i.e., a child’s room) is provided to reproduce the incident which leads to impact locations, force vectors and strengths; (2) the individual head geometry and special mechanical properties of tissues in a child’s head are estimated using a new, image-based technology; (3) incident parameters and measured individual structures are employed in a highly resolved simulation process to estimate the impact on the head and brain. Medical doctors and researchers can use this system to simulate an impact onto the head at arbitrary positions and strengths, given the special head geometry and flexibility of a child’s head. These studies may help to understand the consequences of a trauma on the structural and functional development of a child’s brain, and possibly help estimating the cause of a fall.

Within the next year, it is expected that the work on the virtual environment (1) is completed. The adaption of the analytic environment to MRI data sets of newborns (2) will be completed by the end of this summer. Further, significant effort must be spent to increase the modeling capabilities (3a-c), such that typical accident mechanisms are covered. Finally, the MR imaging protocol must be developed and tested in volunteers (2).


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