Feb. 2, 2004

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Contact: Judy Postmus and Margaret Severson, School of Social Welfare, (785) 864-8952, mseverson@ku.edu.

KU project studying effects of violence against women receives $250,000 grant

LAWRENCE -- A University of Kansas School of Social Welfare project investigating women's safety issues and the effects of past abuse has received a $250,000 grant from the National Institute of Justice.

The "Violence and Victimization: Women's Histories of Survival" project, one of six projects chosen for funding from a national pool of applications, will explore women's histories of domestic violence, sexual assault and childhood abuse, and the impact of these experiences on specific outcomes, including self-efficacy and emotional well-being. Effective Dec. 1, 2003, the grant provides funding for a two-year project involving the interviews of approximately 500 women.

The research will focus on understanding how and why some female survivors of violence end up incarcerated and others do not, while also studying help-seeking patterns and processes, particularly looking at women's access to assistance from domestic violence and sexual assault programs. The project will be an exploration into the factors that contribute to women's survival in the aftermath of physical and other forms of violent victimization. In the end, researchers hope the findings will help service providers, advocates and policymakers design programs that will simultaneously build on women's strengths and remove barriers to their safety and personal well-being.

Judy Postmus, KU assistant professor in social welfare, and Margaret Severson, associate professor in social welfare, will be the principal investigators. Postmus has extensive experience in the field of family violence and research with domestic violence victims, and Severson has extensive practice and research experience in systems operations, mental health and suicide prevention programming in pre-trial and correctional facilities.

The research initiative involves the collaboration of the Kansas Department of Corrections and the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence. Five study sites are located throughout Kansas, including one correctional institution.

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