It’s Time to Include Relationship Violence in the Campus Sexual Assault Conversation

By Elizabeth Wilmerding

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Recent strides have been made in sexual violence prevention in the college environment, although we still have a long way to go. To anyone working in this field for years—or decades—this small amount of progress can make one think, “It’s about time.” It’s time to acknowledge the amount of trauma occurring on college campuses. It’s time for survivors to get access to the support and services they deserve. It’s time for federal laws, state laws, and campus policies to promote cultures of nonviolence. And, it’s time to bring dating and domestic violence into the campus sexual assault conversation.

Our culture and policies around sexual violence are changing because our level of understanding is changing. Yet, we’re continuing to leave out dating and domestic violence. We now know that up to 90% of survivors of attempted or completed rape know their attackers. We know that 1 in 5 women will experience such an assault in their lives, as will 1 in 33 men and 1 in 2 trans* or gender-nonconforming people. We have begun to consider sexual violence from an intersectional perspective, recognizing that survivors have complex identities before an assault, and that those identities impact their experiences of trauma and healing in unique and complex ways. While our narratives around sexual assault and rape have shifted to include these realities, they haven’t changed enough to account for the intersections between sexual violence and relationship violence.

If we want to truly change our culture and eradicate interpersonal violence, it is critical that we acknowledge the link between sexual violence and relationship violence. One in 3 women have experienced violence from an intimate partner. Of these hundreds of thousands of women, 40-45% will experience sexual assault or rape as part of the abuse. New data shows us that 1 in 4 men may experience dating or domestic violence and these figures and those for trans* and gender-nonconforming people may underestimate the rate of incidence. Imagine if we dedicated the same amount of time, resources, and expertise to preventing dating and domestic violence on our campuses as we devote to preventing sexual assault and rape.

Many colleges and universities educate their students about affirmative consent, bystander intervention techniques they can use at parties, and definitions of sexual assault and rape. What if we expanded these dialogues to include the extreme jealousy and stalking that can indicate dating violence, and the intimidation and displays of power that often accompany domestic violence? What if we made sure undergraduate students understood that dating violence can happen in a variety of relationships, including those involving hook-ups or friends-with-benefits? And, what if we spoke with students about the many shapes domestic violence can take in marriages and long-term relationships?

I suspect that, by emphasizing the links to dating and domestic violence in our conversations about sexual violence, we will be able to greatly increase awareness of many types of interpersonal violence and reduce their occurrence and impact. Not only that, but we will validate the experiences of the many survivors whose experiences are not limited to one categorization of harm. True violence prevention depends on having a broad and nuanced understanding of both the current climate and our vision for the future. If we truly hope to end sexual assault, rape, stalking, dating violence, domestic violence, and sexual harassment, we must have a comprehensive approach. It’s time to include dating and domestic violence in our conversations and strategies about ending sexual violence on college campuses.


eliz1Elizabeth Wilmerding is pursuing a Master’s degree (2017) at UC Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare. Her background is in the prevention and support of survivors of sexual and relationship violence, in campus and community settings. A former intern at Futures Without Violence, she is currently doing a field placement at UC Berkeley’s PATH to Care Center, the university’s organization devoted to violence prevention and survivor support. She lives in Oakland, CA.

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Strengthening the Domestic Violence Field: Building the Evaluation Capacity of Community-Based Organizations

By: Dr. Rebecca Rodriguez, Martha Martinez-Hernandez, MPA, and Dr. Josie Serrata

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Domestic violence organizations are tasked with providing evidence to funders and other stakeholders that their programs have a positive impact on program participants. For some organizations, evaluation can seem like a daunting task, especially if they have limited internal capacity, or do not have experience conducting their own evaluations in a way that is palatable to external stakeholders.  This is the reality faced by many small community-based organizations (CBOs) working in the field of domestic violence across the United States, in particular for those working with communities that have been historically marginalized.

Responding to the need for CBOs to document their work—while understanding that perhaps not all of us have experience with evaluation—the National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities (NLN), a project of Casa de Esperanza, set about making the evaluation process accessible and practitioner-friendly.  Led by their research and evaluation team, the NLN partnered with several Latina community-based organizations from across the country (La Paz, Trans Latina Coalition, Mujeres Latinas en Acción, Voces Latinas, Casa de Esperanza’s Amigos program) to develop the Building Evidence Evaluation Toolkit,  a free web-based tool for organizations that approach domestic violence prevention from a culturally specific framework and are seeking to demonstrate the importance of what they do.

Using the analogy of a receta, or recipe, the evaluation toolkit seeks to build and expand the capacity of organizations to conduct evaluations of their programs. The evaluation toolkit is divided into different sections according to the level of knowledge and expertise of the user. For example, there is a beginner’s section that introduces the basic ingredients or concepts of evaluation and provides worksheets to walk the user through the various components of evaluation, including creating logic models; thinking through how to organize, interpret and analyze data; and how to use the results. In addition, the Evaluation Toolkit has more in-depth guidance for users interested in using community evidence to document the culturally specific nature of their work. It includes a Community Centered Evidence Based Practice approach, which is an adapted Evidence Based Practice model for practitioners and evaluators who engage community members in their programming (Serrata et al., in press).

There is also a learning community for those interested in sharing resources and learning more about each other’s work. Our team continues to add new tools. We are in the process of developing measures that capture the added value of culturally specific Domestic Violence organizations.

Here are links to what we have included:

We hope that you will find the toolkit beneficial to your work, and we would love to hear your feedback.

Source: Serrata, J.V., Macias, R.L., Rosales, A., Hernandez-M, M., Rodriguez, R., & Perilla, J.L. (in press). Expanding Evidence-Based Practice Models for Domestic Violence Initiatives: A Community-Centered Approach. Psychology of Violence.


rebecca-casaRebecca Rodriguez, Ph.D. (email: rrodriguez@casadeesperanza.org) is a community psychologist and manager of research and evaluation at the National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities. Rebecca’s research interests broadly focus on culturally specific and community-centered approaches to prevent family violence in Latino@ families. Her research has examined marital and dating violence by investigating family dynamics (e.g. gender roles, parenting), U.S. immigration policies, and by working directly with Latin@ youth witnesses and survivors of violence in conducting participatory action research on topics they find important to their communities.  Her evaluation work includes participatory and culturally responsive evaluation practices and developing the evaluation capacity of community based organizations.

martha-casaMartha Hernandez-Martinez, MPA (email: mhernandez@casadeesperanza.org) serves as the Research Associate for the National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families & Communities. She is originally from Managua-Nicaragua, where she holds a License in Psychology from the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua. Her work experience in Nicaragua included providing services to victims of natural disasters and domestic violence, and research on men’s sexual health. In addition, she designed, delivered, and evaluated gender based education programs targeting health workers. Martha moved to the U.S. in 2002, and worked as a community organizer in issues of affordable housing, immigration, and education. Martha also holds a Masters in Public Affairs from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. Martha’s major interest and passion consist of issues related to the intersections of gender, social norms, intimate partner violence (IPV), healthy masculinities from a Global South perspective, and the impact of public policies on women’s lives (e.g., reproductive health, human rights, development policies).

josieserrata-10Josephine V. Serrata, Ph.D. (email: jserrata@casadeesperanza.org) is a clinical community psychologist and director of research and evaluation at the National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families & Communities, a project of Casa de Esperanza. Her research and evaluation work are embedded in practices that are culturally affirming and community driven. Her research includes studying the intersections of domestic violence with issues of oppression, privilege and strength in Latin@ families and communities. Her evaluation experiences have included evaluating community based prevention and engagement efforts, including a leadership intervention for immigrant Latina survivors of domestic violence. Her clinical work focuses on trauma informed, culturally relevant approaches.

 

Minority stress and intimate partner violence in the LGBTQ community: Is there a connection?

PIRCResearch Summary

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We know that intimate partner violence (IPV) occurs in heterosexual relationships on college and university campuses, and there is a large body of research examining this phenomenon. IPV takes place in same-sex relationships as well: in a nationally representative survey of college and university students in same-sex relationships, 21% of respondents said that they had been victims of psychological violence in their relationships, and 24% had been victims of physical violence. Still, to date there has been far less research on IPV in same-sex relationships on college campuses than on IPV in heterosexual relationships. As a result, there is less information available on what factors may increase risk for IPV in same-sex relationships.

The risk factors for IPV are similar in same-sex and heterosexual relationships. However, minority stress factors in the LGBTQ community, such as sexual-orientation-related victimization, stigma surrounding sexual minorities, internalized homonegativity, and sexual identity concealment, pose additional risk. UNH psychologists Katie Edwards and Kateryna Sylaska hypothesized that minority stress—that is, stress factors that members of minority communities are likely to experience—plays a role in the perpetration of IPV in same-sex relationships. They surveyed a group of college students in same-sex relationships to test their hypothesis, and reported their results in the article “The Perpetration of Intimate Partner Violence among LGBTQ College Youth: The Role of Minority Stress,” which appeared in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence in 2013.

Edwards and Sylaska recruited 391 university students from across the US to participate in an online survey on IPV. All of the survey respondents were currently in relationships with people of the same sex. Their survey asked respondents whether they had used psychological, physical, sexual, and sexual orientation-related violence in their relationships, and also asked about the participants’ experience of both externalized and internalized minority stress variables. The minority stress variables that they asked about were victimization related to sexual orientation, the perception of prejudice or discrimination toward LGBTQ persons, internalized homonegativity, and identity concealment.

In their responses, 29.7% of the participants reported perpetrating some kind of violence against their partner. Edwards and Sylaska’s data showed a relationship between internalized homonegativity—that is, feeling guilty or ashamed about one’s sexual orientation—and physical and sexual violence perpetration. It also showed a relationship between sexual identity concealment and physical violence perpetration. Neither internalized homonegativity nor sexual identity concealment was related to psychological violence perpetration, and sexual identity concealment was not related to sexual violence perpetration.

In their discussion of the findings, Edwards and Sylaska make a point of mentioning that 73% of their respondents reported experiencing verbal or physical harassment related to their sexual orientation. Addressing and alleviating these minority stress factors is essential for preventing IPV among LGBTQ college students. Changing attitudes on a societal level to be more accepting and tolerant of sexual minority individuals and addressing the negative effects of these stresses through positive youth development programming for LGBTQ youth are a critical component to IPV prevention.


Edwards, K. M. & Sylaska, K. M. (2013). The perpetration of intimate partner violence among LGBTQ college youth: The role of minority stress. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 42, 1721-1731. DOI 10.1007/s10964-012-9880-6

Welcome to PIRCBlog!

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          We begin this year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month with the launch of our newest communication platform, the Prevention Innovations Research Center blog. Welcome to PIRCBlog!
         Prevention Innovations Research Center (PIRC) is internationally recognized for its collaborative research and community engagement, with a focus on preventing and responding to sexual and relationship violence and stalking.
          We hope to bring you interesting updates from our work here at the University of New Hampshire including work by our PIRC colleagues and collaborating partners from around the globe. Together, we are engaged in cutting-edge scholarship, research, education and developments that are making news and making a difference in ending sexual and relationship violence and stalking. Our research informs policy and practice and we convene practitioners and researchers to develop strategies for evidence-based, innovative approaches to violence prevention. We are committed to mentoring the next generation of researchers, scholars and advocates. Therefore, PIRC researchers involve graduate and undergraduate students in their projects at all stages, from design to implementation to publication. Our Susan Schecter Domestic and Sexual Violence Social Justice Lab is an interdisciplinary research laboratory where PIRC offers paid and credit-earning research assistantships to UNH students.
          PIRCBlog will include contributions from the PIRC team as well as from guest bloggers. Contributors will discuss current practices in social change and violence prevention, take a deeper look at the evidence-based research that drives our mission and summarize their peer-reviewed publications. We will also examine the partnerships with practitioners and communities where research findings are put to use and discuss their implementation. PIRCBlog will recognize practitioners and researchers world-wide who are working toward the same goals by highlighting like-minded organizations, tracking the news related to the prevention of sexual and relationship violence and stalking, and reviewing books, movies and other media that highlight sexual and domestic violence.
          As the launch of our blog coincides with April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), we have planned a series of posts on this year’s theme:preventionWatch for discussions of the importance of prevention and PIRC’s efforts helping post-secondary institutions, federal and state efforts,and local communities develop and implement model policies, procedures and programs. We’ll also be addressing prevention efforts in the military and on college and university campuses, prevention and public policy, and prevention in the media.
          We invite you to read and to comment on the blog, follow us on WordPress,visit our website, and subscribe to our semi-annual newsletter, PIRCNews, for information about PIRC. If you are interested in being a guest blogger, please see our submission guidelines. You can also follow us on Twitter (@WePreventNow), on Instagram (@preventioninnovations) and on Facebook where you will find updates about our work, and announcements of new blog posts. Thank you for visiting PIRCBlog!
          –Sharyn Potter and Jane Stapleton

SharynPotter1Sharyn J. Potter, Ph.D., MPH, is a founder and Co-director of Prevention Innovations Research Center: Ending Sexual and Relationship Violence and Stalking at the University of New Hampshire and is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology.
stapletonJane Stapleton, M.A., is a founder and Co-director of Prevention Innovations Research Center: Ending Sexual and Relationship Violence and Stalking at the University of New Hampshire.