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2021-22 Graduate Student Fellows Announced

The Initiative to End Family Violence (IEFV) is pleased to announce our Graduate Student Fellows, who will each receive funding for research on family violence during the 2021-22 academic year.

The IEFV Graduate Student Fellowship was created to support graduate students whose research has the potential to prevent, intervene in, or end family violence.

Monica De Roche, Department of Political Science

Coping in the Private Domain: How Domestic Violence Victims Foster Resilience to Trauma

My research seeks to expose the gap in support services for domestic violence victims within the home by assessing the needs of victims not yet at the stage of leaving their abuser. I look to an innovative data collection model; namely, online chat rooms and support groups, to investigate how these shared spaces may have offered a unique form of support during COVID-19, and how these spaces may continue to allow women to foster and maintain resilience within the home; either in conjunction with, or in lieu of other services available outside of it. By doing so, I shift the victim-survivor lens inward to focus on how women cope with trauma in the private domain. Narrative data obtained from online domestic violence support forums will be analyzed to assess how women cope and foster resilience outside of traditional routes of data collection.

This research project assesses how women establish and maintain support in closed environments in that period between the onset of abuse and the point at which she is finally able to leave. Examining the impact of a forced closed environment, such as that experienced under the COVID-19 quarantines, and which is regularly experienced by victims of domestic violence within the home, offers the opportunity to assess the degree of needs not addressed by current domestic violence policies and practices among this population. Integrating women’s narratives into more traditional quantitative data methods will allow for women’s voices to be incorporated into data in a more meaningful and substantive manner.

Fellowship funds will primarily be used for online data collection, coding, and analyses, as well as interview transcription costs.

Yasmin Barrientos Kofman, Department of Psychological Science

In Their Own Words: Risk, Resilience, and Maternal-Infant Health in Trauma-Exposed Women

In this mixed-methods, exploratory study, I examine psychological processes of adaptation that may temper the health consequences of violence and adversity. Specifically, I explore vital resilience factors in an extremely marginalized population imperiled by violence exposure: women who are chronically unhoused and experiencing unsafe or unstable environments (e.g., domestic violence, trafficking, incarceration). Grounded in Narrative Identity Theory—a person’s internalized, evolving life story—personal life narratives will be analyzed using coding techniques to identify clusters of words with thematic and semantic similarities (i.e., constructs of resilience, adaption, and development). Uniquely, women in this sample are pregnant, offering a conceptual framework in which pathways from chronic or traumatic stress exposure to health are observable during pregnancy and immediately during or after birth. I will test how resilience factors derived from narrative coding impact the relationship between interpersonal violence exposure and maternal-infant health outcomes. Results from this study will provide valuable insight into potential health-protective factors not easily captured through quantitative measures, or with prescribed definitions of resilience, in a traditionally hard-to-reach population. This is critical to our understanding of the effects of violence exposure on health in those most affected. Prevention and intervention must require this type of context-specific understanding to inform differentiated programming and policy.

Funds from the IEFV will help support costs associated with this community-based study, including transportation, equipment, and data analysis software.

Gabriel Ancil Rangazas, Department of Sociology

Informing Teen Dating Violence Prevention by Analyzing the LGBTQ+ Youth Experience and Conditional Tolerance for Violence

Adolescence is a critical period for the development of healthy relationships and behavior. This research project explores the complex nature of adolescent romantic relationships by examining personal experiences, understandings, and circumstances of teen dating violence (TDV). This study allows us to analyze the interplay among teens' own experiences with dating violence, gender, sexual orientation, various forms of violence, and conditional tolerance for violence.

The study seeks to make significant contributions to TDV research that may be applied to future prevention efforts. The resulting data will enable investigations into the associations between adolescents' personal experience of TDV with how adolescents judge the use of violence in hypothetical relationships; comparisons between the LGBTQ+ population and the heterosexual population; and comparisons within the LGBTQ+ spectrum. The study examines both victimization and perpetration across physical, psychological, sexual, and cyber violence.

A major purpose of the study is to gain a better understanding of how teens perceive relationship violence and whether they make allowances for violence in certain circumstances. Conditional tolerance measures a person's beliefs about when and how it may be appropriate or understandable to use violence in romantic relationships. Understanding conditional tolerance could considerably improve prevention efforts and programming.

The fellowship funds from the Initiative to End Family Violence will be used to compensate roughly 200 research participants.

Lyric Noelle Russo, Department of Social Ecology

The Intergenerational Impact of Child Abuse on Psychopathology: An Examination in a Sample of Latinx Mother-Child Dyads

Child abuse (CA) is a widespread public health problem. Exposure to CA is associated with a myriad of immediate and long-lasting deleterious mental health consequences for survivors, including behavioral disorders, posttraumatic stress, and mood disorders (Hazen et al., 2009; Higgins & McCabe, 2003). In addition to the negative associations for the survivor, there are also intergenerational consequences of CA as parental trauma exposure is associated with an increased risk of child trauma exposure (Randall et al., 2015) and child psychopathology, even in the absence of child trauma exposure (Lambert, et al., 2014). Latinx individuals, who already must contend with systemic oppression, sociodemographic adversity, and racism and discrimination (Hernandez & Villodas, 2020), are at heightened risk for negative outcomes following CA, which can contribute to mental health disparities that further exacerbate the effects of CA.

The current study aims to examine whether maternal CA is associated with both mother and child psychopathology in a sample of Latinx mother-child dyads, as well as whether maternal CA confers greater risk of CA and other traumatic event exposure among the children of CA survivors. Empirically supported risk and protective factors will be examined to illuminate mechanisms underlying the relationship between CA and psychopathology.

Funding from The Initiative to End Family Violence will be utilized to compensate research participants.

Merima Tricic, Department of Urban Planning and Public Policy and School of Law

Engaging Communities of Sexual Violence Survivors in Challenging Post-War Reparations Policies: Organizational Narratives and Power Dynamics in Bosnia

Since the conclusion of the armed Bosnian conflict in 1992, various grassroots organizations have attempted to intervene in the long-term impact of sexual violence by seeking reparations for survivors after political institutions failed to recognize and address the widespread nature of wartime sexual violence. Reparations, defined as a measure to repair the impact of systematic human rights violations, are a key aspect of peacebuilding in post-conflict regions with sexual violence as it should address the root causes/structural (and gender-based) violence of conflict, the harm experienced in the manifestation and escalation of conflict, and provide settlements for a sustainable peace (Kriesberg 2006). In cases of wartime sexual violence, survivors still face the impact of war, given that the cycle of conflict never concluded due to the remnants of gendered structural violence resulting in an increase of other forms of gender-based violence (i.e. domestic violence), manifestation of violence from perpetrators who remain in their communities, and the lack of symbolic and material reparations from the government for pain, harm, and lost life opportunities (Noma 2012). In the past decade, there has been a sustained effort in Bosnia to change trauma-producing policies that affect survivors such as requiring courts to protect the identities of testifying survivors, pressing courts to remove judges who were previously involved in the war efforts, and in utilizing trauma-sensitive methods for questioning survivors. However, the vast majority of these policy changes in the past ten years have been either passed with little to no implementation, or they have failed on the grounds that such policies are ethnic propaganda that contributes to the existing state’s frozen conflict (defined as a conflict that exists without fighting parties). My preliminary research finds that organizations in Bosnia increasingly debate the role and place that victim-based narratives play in policy campaigns, and organizations have increasingly been reassessing notions of victimhood, survival, self-empowerment, and needs-based narratives in policy campaign planning and advertising its memorial/symbolic reparations projects to survivors. I will explore how three Bosnian organizations incorporate survivor narratives into the peacebuilding process to intervene in the long-term effects of wartime sexual violence and provide survivors agency to pursue their emotional needs. These organizations incorporate survivor narratives in different ways and, thus, provide an opportunity to see a range of approaches and to examine their strengths and weaknesses.

Though there are a variety of needs and forms of symbolic reparations, I will be focusing my research this summer on three organizations that are doing significant work on integrating survivor needs-based narratives into policy efforts. My research this summer focuses on symbolic reparative efforts, which broadly examines efforts to address the collective pains of survivors by pursuing nonmaterial reparations that acknowledge and recognize survivor pain publicly. The funds will be utilized during my travel to Bosnia to meet with organizational leaders and activists for sexual violence survivors, and other funds will be used for the translation and transcription of the interviews I collect.


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