Ongoing since 2015

Project Director: Linda M. Williams, Ph.D.

Operations Director: Mary Frederick

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Program Overview

The Justice and Gender-Based Violence Research Initiative builds on and furthers the work of the Wellesley Centers for Women to advance the visibility, role, and use of research to improve the lives of women and girls. This initiative is designed to conduct and disseminate research that meaningfully addresses the causes and consequences of gender-based violence and the social, health and justice system responses to violent crime and victimization. We link high-quality research, theory, and action to increase the impact of gender-informed research on issues of justice and victimization that are critical to women and girls. Our work includes a focus on women and girls in the criminal justice system in many different roles— victims, offenders, workers, and policy-makers.

The justice and gender-based violence research initiative is built on many decades of experience conducting grant-sponsored and foundation supported research, evaluation and development of policies and curricula. Led by senior research scientist Linda Williams and an interdisciplinary team of collaborators, the initiative focuses on work with partners in the community, the criminal justice system, governmental and non-governmental organizations, international partners, and other researchers and institutes. Project sponsorship has come from many federal sources including The National Institute of Justice, The Office on Violence Against Women, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The Bureau of Justice Assistance. Our work is supported through direct funding from agencies and foundations as well as via subcontracts designed to foster collaboration between multiple academic sites, governmental and non-governmental organizations and individual scholars on a variety of projects.

The JGBVR Initiative includes research, evaluation, training and policy and includes a focus on sexual violence, child maltreatment, human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation, justice system response to GBV, intimate partner violence and college sexual assault. This initiative includes scholars who collaborate on the development and implementation of sponsored research projects. The current collaborators and team members are described here. More broadly the Justice and Gender-Based Violence Research Initiative will contribute to the WCW efforts to form partnerships with organizations worldwide to build the research capacity and to increase the impact of gender-informed research on gender-based violence.

The initiative promotes the use of multiple research methodologies to examine the causes and consequences of gendered violence and justice system involved women and girls. Although much research has been done, sexual violence and all gender-based violence continue to be among the most serious challenges for our society. The gender-based and survivor-centered work of this initiative is directed toward highlighting and remediating the gaps in knowledge that remain today. To accomplish this, researcher and practitioner collaborations (see Williams 2004 link) are an important focus of the initiative as is incorporating the voices of survivors into the research and answering questions about women’s lived experiences. In our research, we stress the importance of the use of multiple methods driven by the nature of the inquiry rather than being driven by a compulsive attachment to one strategy or way of knowing about gender-based violence. Our work facilitates the participation of service providers and survivors in the interpretation of results and takes responsibility for integrating findings into policy and planning next steps for research or practice.

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