Over 40 years ago, I began my research on the psychological impact from living with domestic violence. I had just received my doctorate from Rutgers and was a clinical professor on the medical school faculty at the then College of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ where we were looking at child abuse. Some of the mothers we were seeing there told of how they were being beaten by their husbands or partners. I began to collect their stories. Feminist literature including MS. Magazine printed stories about battered women shelters in England and the legislative studies by the British Parliament.
After I moved to Denver in 1975, I asked my Congresswoman, Patricia Schroeder if she knew anyone in England studying the problem. She connected me with Members of Parliament there and I spent several weeks traveling around their country talking with people providing shelter for battered women including Erin Pizzey, one of the earliest pioneers. When I returned to the U.S., I interviewed other battered women and began to formulate my theories including Battered Woman Syndrome. From 1978 through 1981, I received over $250,000 from the U.S. government through the National Institute of Mental Health to test these theories and developed the Battered Woman Syndrome Questionnaire (BWSQ) to assess the psychological effects from abuse. When I became a professor at NSU College of Psychology I continued my research on the BWSQ and most recently, working together with several methodologists and statisticians at NSU COP we validated the assessment measure. We are continuing this research to develop a simple assessment tool so that others can use it to determine if someone is experiencing Battered Woman Syndrome. Check out our presentation at the APA 2017 in DC.
Using research obtained from the BWSQ described above, I designed a treatment program for battered women that now has been expanded to being used for those experiencing different types of gender violence. Together with Tara Jungersen, Ryan Black and Tom Kennedy other professors at NSU, we are empirically validating this 12 unit program that covers psychoeducational information, group process, and skill building for different topics that impact trauma survivors. STEP has been used successfully with women and men in jail awaiting trial for various alleged crimes. The program is being prepared for publication. View the STEP Presentation here.
Together with Dr. Vincent Van Hasselt, a police officer and professor at NSU COP we have worked with students in reviewing the high number of murder-suicides in the state of Florida. We have found that the three highest risk areas are:
This research is being prepared for publication. View the presentation slides on at high-risk for homicide-suicide from the APA 2015 annual convention in Toronto, Canada.