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MSU and Yale Social Scientists Team Up to Research Intimate Partner Violence

Beaumont Tower on a sunny fall afternoon.

Social scientist Christopher Maxwell, a professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University, is collaborating with Tami Sullivan from the Yale University School of Medicine to better understand the relationship between the use of firearms and intimate partner violence.

The National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research awarded Maxwell and Sullivan a $2.1 million grant to conduct a study with hundreds of female intimate partner violence survivors over the course of three years. Their research team will interview each participant while analyzing medical and criminal records to better understand the survivor’s experience of being threatened with a firearm. The data will then be compared to those who have not.

“Understanding the relationship between firearms and intimate partner violence will help us to better understand the crime so that we can prevent it more effectively,” says Maxwell. “I’m hoping that this research will better inform the criminal justice process so that we can create better outcomes for domestic violence survivors.”

According to Maxwell, law enforcement interventions for intimate partner violence differ based on the severity of the situation. Previous research by Sullivan has shown that the presence of firearms and the fear of firearm violence are significant predictors of later PTSD symptoms.

Both Maxwell and Sullivan direct the evaluation of the National Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Program with their colleague Joy Kaufman of Yale University. The program is implemented nationwide and provides law enforcement officers with research-based risk assessment tools to identify and help severely at-risk survivors.

Learn more about Dr. Maxwell and Dr. Sullivan’s research here.

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