Linda Williams

Linda M. Williams

Senior Research Scientist

Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

Co-founder of Justice and Gender-Based Violence Research Initiative; Focuses on sexual exploitation of women and children, sexual violence, human trafficking, child abuse

Linda M. Williams, Ph.D., is a senior research scientist and co-director of the Justice and Gender-Based Violence Research Initiative at the Wellesley Centers for Women. The focus of her current work is on justice system response to sexual violence, commercial sexual exploitation of women and children, human trafficking, intimate partner violence, and child maltreatment. Williams returned to WCW after serving as professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell (2005-2015) and where she is now Professor Emerita.

Author of many books and scholarly publications, Williams has lectured internationally on sexual violence, commercial sexual exploitation, trauma & memory, and researcher-practitioner collaborations. She served as an invited expert for the first international expert meeting on domestic sex trafficking under the auspices of the National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings and Sexual Violence against Children in The Hague, Netherlands and also on the National Research Council Panel on Violence Against Women.


For the past 42 years, Williams has directed research on violence against women, sexual exploitation of children, sex offenders, and the consequences of child abuse including several longitudinal studies and recent qualitative work. She has been the principal investigator on 16 U.S. federally funded research projects (and has directed research funded by the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, the National Institute of Mental Health, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of the Navy, and private foundations). She recently completed work on the OVC funded National-Scope Demonstration Project to Integrate Crime Victims’ Issues into University and College Curricula and a CDC-funded study on the use of social marketing and in-person training programs to enhance bystander behaviors to prevent relationship violence on college campuses.

Williams earned her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania where she studied at the Center for Criminology and Criminal Law. In 1996 Williams joined the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) as director of research at the Stone Center. Until her departure in the fall of 2005, she continued her examination of the resilience of women, children, and families. She conducted research designed to understand and prevent the negative consequences of violence against women and children and collaborated on international research and action projects.

Selected Publications - Books

Williams, L., & Banyard, V. (1998). Trauma and Memory. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Jasinski, J., & Williams, L.M. (1998). Partner Violence: A Comprehensive Review of 20 Years of Research. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Finkelhor, D., & Williams, L.M. (1988). Nursery Crimes: Sexual Abuse in Day Care. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

McCahill, T., Meyer (Williams), L., & Fischman, A.S. (1979). The Aftermath of Rape. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.

Selected Publications - Articles & Papers

Pattavina, A., Morabito, M.S., & Williams, L.M. (forthcoming) Examining Connections Between the Police and Prosecution in Sexual Assault Case Processing: Does the Use of Exceptional Clearance Facilitate a Downstream Orientation? Victims and Offenders: Journal of evidence-based policies and practices.

Williams, L.M. & Walfield, S. (in press) Rape and Sexual Assault. H. Friedman (ed.) Encyclopedia of Mental Health, 2nd edition. San Diego: Elsevier. 10 pgs.

Cares, A.C., Banyard, V.L., Moynihan, M.M., Williams, L.M., Potter, S.J., & Stapleton, J.G. (2015). Changing attitudes about being a bystander to violence: Translating an in-person sexual violence prevention program to a new campus. Violence Against Women, 21, (2); 165-187.

Williams, L.M. & Weeks, E. (2014). Defining and Measuring Child Maltreatment. In J. R. Conte (ed.) Child Abuse and Neglect Worldwide: Vol I Understanding, Defining and Measuring Child Maltreatment. (pp 9-36). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.

Moynihan, M. M., Banyard, V. L., Cares, A. C., Potter, S. J., Williams, L. M., & Stapleton, J. G. (2014). Encouraging responses in sexual and relationship violence prevention: What program effects remain 1 year later? Journal of Interpersonal Violence, doi:10.1177/0886260514532719

Cares, A.C., Hirschel, D., & Williams, L.M. (2014) Teaching about victimization in an online environment: Translating in person empathy and support to the internet. The Journal of Criminal Justice Education, 25: 405-420.

Post-Secondary Education: Integrating Crime Victims' Issues into University and College Curricula. (Co-Principal Investigator): U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime. Grant # 009-VF-GX-K006. October 1, 2009 – March 31, 2013. Curriculum for Integrating Crime Victim Issues into the College and University Curricula

Williams, L.M. (2013) Adolescence and Commercial Sexual Exploitation: Prostituted Girls in the US. In Bromberg, D.S. and O’Donohue, W.T. (eds.) Handbook of Child and Adolescent Sexuality. Oxford: Academic Press, 2013, pp. 449-468.

Williams, L.M. (2011) "Community Responsibility for Runaway and Thrownaway Youth--Commentary," Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk: Vol. 2: Iss. 1, Article 11.

Williams, L.M. (2010). Harm and resilience among prostituted teens: Broadening our understanding of victimisation and survival. Social Policy and Society, 9,2: 243-254.

Williams, L.M. (2009). Provide Justice For Prostituted Teens: Stop Arresting And Prosecuting Girls. In Natasha A. Frost, Joshua D. Freilich, and Todd R. Clear (Eds.), Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice Policy: Policy Proposals from the American Society of Criminology Conference. (pp. 297-306). Belmont, CA: Cengage/Wadsworth.

Williams, L.M. & Frederick, M.E. (2009). Pathways into and out of commercial sexual victimization of children: Understanding and responding to sexually exploited teens. Lowell, MA: University of Massachusetts Lowell.