Social Work faculty joins national team studying violence against women

Debra Patterson, associate professor with the Wayne State School of Social Work, has been selected to join the Rutgers Violence Against Women Consortium, a select group of experts who will help improve services for women who experience violence and educate the greater community about best practices and policies.

The National Institute of Justice announced in October that the Center on Violence Against Women and Children at the Rutgers School of Social Work would receive nearly $5 million to support research on how violence against women impacts individuals, families and society. The center invited Patterson to join an interdisciplinary team of 13 core faculty and research scientists from across the country who will work with NIJ and VAWC to focus on ways to identify, implement and share research in areas where gaps in knowledge exist. Specifically, they will seek to elucidate the causes and consequences of sexual violence, intimate partner violence, teen dating violence, and stalking, and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system’s response to these crimes.

Patterson, who practiced at a domestic and sexual violence agency for eight years as an advocate, therapist, and director, has conducted extensive research on the barriers sexual assault survivors confront when seeking help as well as their experiences with the formal social systems that exist to help them. Survivors who seek help frequently encounter hurtful treatment that can increase their posttraumatic stress, she noted.

Patterson will work with her consortium colleagues over the next four years to conduct rigorous reviews of the research identify and prioritize gaps in the field of violence against women and to implement research and evaluation projects to fill them. This ultimate goal of the project will be to generate knowledge and evidence-based practices that are useful for practitioners, policymakers and the general public.


For more information on research conducted at the Wayne State School of Social Work visit the Center for Social Work Research website here.

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