The Ortner Center on Violence & Abuse is a collaborative effort of faculty and students at the University of Pennsylvania who research issues related to violence, primarily violence against women & girls.

The Center is a vital resource for policy makers, agency directors, researchers, and educators as they search for ways to reduce violence. In addition to publishing research findings in scholarly journals, Center affiliates teach related graduate and undergraduate courses at Penn. In addition, we testify before policymakers, collaborate with community-based organizations, and reach the general public through various media outlets.

Students working together in class

Our Mission

Safe Daughters. Confident Women. Strong Society.

Our Vision

The mission of the Ortner Center on Violence & Abuse in Relationships is to

  • Investigate the correlates and consequences of violence against women and violence in the home
  • Educate the next generation of researchers, practitioners, and policy makers
  • Translate research findings to policy and practice
  • Engage community and university stakeholders with the goal of preventing violence, increasing safety and health, and, thus, facilitating a stronger society.

Penn Faculty Fellows

Richard A. Berk, PhD
Professor of Criminology, Professor of Statistics School of Arts and Sciences, Wharton

Richard Berk

Recent Select Publications

Sorenson SB, Sinko L, Berk RA. The endemic amid the pandemic: Seeking help for violence against women in the initial phases of COVID-19. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2021; 36: 4899–4915.

Berk RA, Sorenson SB. An algorithmic approach to forecasting rare violent events: An illustration based in intimate partner violence perpetration. Criminology & Public Policy, 2020; 19: 213-233.

Small D, Sorenson SB, Berk RA. After the gun: Examining police visits and intimate partner violence following incidents involving a firearm. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 2019, 42: 591–602.

Berk RA. An impact assessment of machine learning risk forecasts on parole board decisions and recidivism. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 2017; 13: 193-216.

Berk RA, Sorenson SB, Barnes G. Forecasting domestic violence: A machine learning approach to help inform arraignment decisions, Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, 2016; 13: 94-115.

Cristina Bicchieri, PhD
Department of Philosophy (SAS) and Wharton S. J. Patterson Harvie Professor of Social Thought and Comparative Ethics

Cristina Bicchieri

Professor Bicchieri’s research focuses on judgment and decision making, especially pro-social decisions, and how social expectations affect behavior. Social norms are a big part of this work, and many of her experiments show the effect of norms on behavior. She also is interested in the evolution of social norms, how they can emerge and decay.

In her recent work, she designed behavioral experiments aimed at testing hypotheses based on the theory of social norms that she developed in her book, The Grammar of Society: the Nature and Dynamics of Social Norms (Cambridge University Press, 2006). The experimental results show that most subjects have a conditional preference for following pro-social norms. Manipulating their expectations causes major behavioral changes. Policymakers who want to induce pro-social behavior have to work on changing people’s social expectations.

Her new book, Norms in the Wild: How to Diagnose, Measure and Change Social Norms, forthcoming with Cambridge University Press, summarizes her experience consulting with UNICEF and other NGOs on social norms including norms about violence against women. In the book, she stresses measurement and change, and what sort of policies may be most conducive to positive social change.

Her work on dynamics of social norms asks how norms may emerge and become stable, why an established norm may be abandoned, how is it possible that inefficient or unpopular norms survive, and what motivates people to obey norms.

Recent Select Publications

Bicchieri C, Dimant E. Nudging with care: The risks and benefits of social information. Public Choice, 2019; doi: 10.1007/s11127-019-00684-6.

Hart E, Mellers BA, Bicchieri C. Bad luck or bad intentions: When do third parties reveal offenders’ intentions to victims? Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2019; 84: 103788.

Thulin EW, Bicchieri C. I’m so angry I could help you: Moral outrage as a driver of victim compensation. Social Philosophy & Policy, 2016, 32: 146-160.

Robert Boruch, PhD
Graduate School of Education, University Trustee Chair Professor of Education and Statistics

Robert Boruch

Robert Boruch, PhD, is the University Trustee Chair Professor of Education and Statistics at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Co-Director of the Center for Research and Evaluation in Social Policy. He has served as a member of advisory groups for the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the National Science Foundation, the National Center on Educational Statistics, and other federal agencies. Dr. Boruch also has been on the Board of Trustees of the William T. Grant Foundation, the Board of Directors of the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness, and the Advisory Board of the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy. He has served on more than a dozen committees and working groups in the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Boruch’s work focuses on research methods and evidence for determining the severity and scope of social and educational issues, implementation of programs, and estimating the effects of interventions.  He co-founded the Campbell Collaboration, an international organization that promotes positive social and economic change through the production and use of systematic reviews and other evidence synthesis for evidence-based policy and practice.

Recent Select Publications

Boruch R, Allen‐Platt C, Gerstner C. To randomize or not to randomize? That is the question. New Directions in Evaluation. 2019; 163: 73-82.

Boruch R. Street walking: Randomized controlled trials in criminology, education, and elsewhere. Journal of Experimental Criminology. 2015; 11: 485-499.

Taljaard M, Brehaut JC, Weijer C, Boruch R, et al. Variability in research ethics review of cluster randomized trials: a scenario-based survey in three countries. Trials. 2014; 15: 48.

Kathleen Brown, CRNP, PhD, FAAN
School of Nursing Practice Associate Professor of Nursing

Kathleen M. Brown

Kathleen M. Brown, PhD, is a pioneering nurse who helped create the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) programs that have become common across the country. Her protocols have been implemented into state policy and the American Prosecutors Research Institute, a division of the National Institute of Justice.

Dr. Brown consults with prosecutors and defense attorneys nationally, consults with the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corp, and has been the sole nurse expert in many criminal trials and court martial procedures. In 2009, she received the Bridge of Courage Award from Women Organized Against Rape and was inducted as a fellow into the American Academy of Nursing.

Click here to read about an effort Dr. Brown co-founded in 2014 to break the cycle of prostitution. As Dr. Brown said, “Little girls don’t grow up wanting to be a prostitute. There often is a history of abuse there.”

Recent Select Publications

Brawner BM, Sommers MS, Moore K, Aka-James R, Zink T, Brown KM, Fargo JD. Exploring genitoanal injury and HIV risk among women: Menstrual phase, hormonal birth control, and injury frequency and prevalence. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. 2016; 71: 207-212.

Peter Cronholm, MD, MSCE
School of Medicine, Family Medicine and Community Health Associate ProfessorNursing

Peter Cronholm

Peter Cronholm, MD, MSCE, FAAFP, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, where he also is the Director of Community Programs as well as the Director of the Mixed Methods Research Lab.

Professor Cronholm’s research focuses on integrating trauma-informed approaches and primary prevention strategies into systems of primary care. He has a particular interest in identifying and working with perpetrators of intimate partner violence.

Dr. Cronholm is on the Board of Directors and past-Chair of the Education, Research and Scientific Programs Committee for the Academy of Violence and Abuse and was the Co-Chair of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine’s Group on Violence Education and Prevention.

Recent Select Publications

Nadler LE, Ogden SN, Scheffey KL, Cronholm PF, Dichter ME. Provider practices and perspectives regarding collection and documentation of gender identity. Journal of Homosexuality. 2019; Sep 17: 1-13.

Whittaker J, Kellom K, Matone M, Cronholm P. A community capitals framework for identifying rural adaptation in maternal-child home visiting. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. Published online July 2019.

Cronholm PF, Dichter ME. The need for systems of care and a trauma-informed approach to intimate partner violence. American Family Physician. 2018; 97(11): Online.

Matone M, Kellom K, Griffis H, Quarshie W, Faerber J, Gierlach P, Whittaker J, Rubin DM, Cronholm PF. A mixed methods evaluation of early childhood abuse prevention within evidence-based home visiting programs. Maternal and Child Health Journal. 2018; 22(Suppl 1): 79-91.

Wade R Jr, Cronholm PF, Fein JA, Forke CM, Davis MB, Harkins-Schwarz M, Pachter LM, Bair-Merritt MH. Household and community-level Adverse Childhood Experiences and adult health outcomes in a diverse urban population. Child Abuse & Neglect. 2016; 52: 135-145.

Maria Cuellar, PhD
School of Arts & Sciences Assistant Professor

Maria Cuellar

Dr. Cuellar is an assistant professor in Penn’s Criminology department. She earned a PhD in statistics and policy at the joint program of the Carnegie Mellon University Department of Statistics and Data Science and the Heinz College School of Public Policy and Management. She earned her bachelor’s degree in physics at Reed College.

Before earning her doctorate, Dr. Cuellar managed a 200-person team at MIT’s Justice and Poverty Lab that implemented the largest JPAL randomized controlled trial in Latin America at the time (70,000 participants) to evaluate the impact of parental involvement on educational outcomes. Working with the EcoScience Foundation, she created the Bus ConCiencia, a mobile laboratory that offers student and teacher workshops in remote towns in Chile.

Dr. Cuellar studies causation in legal contexts and has applied this framework to evaluate the use of scientific evidence in cases of Shaken Baby Syndrome and other forms of child abuse. She is exploring using experimental designs to develop a mechanism that can reduce contextual bias in forensic analysis.

In 2018, Dr. Cuellar was awarded the Norman Breslow Prize, the Statistics in Epidemiology section’s top award presented to young investigators, which is given to papers with both methodological contributions and substantive epidemiological applications.

Recent Select Publications

Mejia R, Cuellar M, Salyards J. Implementing blind proficiency testing in forensic laboratories: Motivation, obstacles, and recommendations. Forensic Science International. 2020; 2: 293-298.

Kaplan J, Ling S, Cuellar M. Public beliefs about the accuracy and importance of forensic evidence in the United States. Science & Justice. 2020; 60: 263-272.

Cuellar M. Short fall arguments in court: A probabilistic analysis. University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, 2017; 50: 763.

Cuellar M. Causal reasoning and data analysis: Problems with the abusive head trauma diagnosis. Law, Probability and Risk, 2017; 16: 223–239.

Rangita de Silva de Alwis, LLB, LLM, SJD
School of Law Associate Dean for International Programs

Rangita de Silva de Alwis

Before joining Penn Law in 2015, she was the inaugural director of the Wilson Center’s Global Women’s Leadership Initiative and the Women in Public Service Project launched by Secretary Hillary Clinton and the Seven Sisters Colleges. She has been an adviser to UNICEF, UN Women, UNFPA, and UNDP. Professor de Alwis has published widely with the World Bank, United Nations, and in various leading law journals. Her recent publications include a report on child marriage and articles on domestic violence law in Asia.

Recent Select Publications

de Alwis RS. Goal Five and gender equality, Chapter in Treatise on the Sustainable Development Goals. Oxford Univ. Press, expected release 2021.

de Silva de Alwis R, Klugman J. Freedom from violence and the law: a global perspective in light of the Chinese domestic violence law, 2015. University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law. 2015; 37:1-52.

Malitta Engstrom, PhD
School of Social Policy & Practice Associate Professor

Recent Select Publications

Masin-Moyer M, Kim JC, Engstrom M, Solomon P. A scoping review of the Trauma Recovery and Empowerment Model (TREM). Trauma Violence Abuse. 2020 Nov 10:1524838020967862.

Masin-Moyer M, Engstrom M, Solomon P. A comparative effectiveness study of a shortened trauma recovery empowerment model and an attachment-informed adaptation. Violence Against Women. 2020; 26: 482-504.

Engstrom M, Winham KM, Gilbert L. Types and characteristics of childhood sexual abuse: How do they matter in HIV sexual risk behaviors among women in methadone treatment in New York City? Substance Use & Misuse. 2016; 51: 277-294.

Golder S, Engstrom, M, Hall, MT, Higgins, G, Logan T. Psychological distress among victimized women on probation and parole: A latent class analysis. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 2015; 85: 382-391.

Winham KM, Engstrom,M, Golder S, Renn, T, Higgins GE, Logan T. Childhood victimization, attachment, psychological distress and substance use among women on probation and parole. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 2015; 85: 145-158.

Edna B. Foa, PhD
Perelman School of Medicine Professor of Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry

Edna Foa

Recent Select Publications

Fina BA, Wright EC, Rauch SAM, Norman SB, Acierno R, Cuccurullo LJ, Dondanville KA, Moring JC, Brown LA, Foa EB. Conducting prolonged exposure for PTSD during the COVID-19 pandemic: Considerations for treatment. Cognitive Behavior Practice. 2020 Oct 17.

Keshet H, Foa EB, Gilboa-Schechtman E. Women’s self-perceptions in the aftermath of trauma: The role of trauma-centrality and trauma-type. Psychological Trauma. 2019; 11: 542-550.

McLean CP, Foa EB. Emotions and emotion regulation in posttraumatic stress disorder. Current Opinions Psychology. 2017; 14: 72-77.

Foa EB, McLean CP. The efficacy of exposure therapy for anxiety-related disorders and its underlying mechanisms: The case of OCD and PTSD. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 2016; 12: 1-28.

Sara Jaffee, PhD
School of Arts & Sciences, Department of Psychology Professor of Psychology, Director of Graduate Studies

Sara Jaffee

Recent Select Publications

Holochwost SJ, Wang G, Kolacz J, Mills-Koonce WR, Klika JB, Jaffee SR. The neurophysiological embedding of child maltreatment. Developmental Psychopathology. 2020 July 6: 1-31.

Brumley LD, Brumley BP, Jaffee SR. Comparing cumulative index and factor analytic approaches to measuring maltreatment in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. Child Abuse and Neglect. 2019; 87: 65-76.

Jaffee SR. Lead exposure and child maltreatment as models for how to conceptualize early-in-life risk factors for violence. Infant Mental Health Journal. 2019; 40: 23-38.

Crush E, Arseneault L, Moffitt TE, Danese A, Caspi A, Jaffee SR, Matthews T, Fisher HL. Protective factors for psychotic experiences amongst adolescents exposed to multiple forms of victimization. Journal of Psychiatric Research. 2018; 104: 32-38.

Stern A, Agnew-Blais J, Danese A, Fisher HL, Jaffee SR, Matthews T, Polanczyk GV, Arseneault L. Associations between abuse/neglect and ADHD from childhood to young adulthood: A prospective nationally-representative twin study. Child Abuse and Neglect. 2018; 81: 274-285.

Ivona Percec, MD, PhD
Perelman School of Medicine, Division of Surgery Assistant Professor

Ivona Percec

Recent Select Publications

Phyllis Solomon, PhD
School of Social Policy and Practice Kenneth L. Pray Chair in Social Policy & Practice

Phyllis Solomon

Professor Solomon has a particular interest in policies and practices that address circumstances in which a person with severe mental illness is violent toward a family member, which in many instances is an adult son targeting an aging mother.

Recent Select Publications

Kageyama M, Yokoyama K, Horiai Y, Solomon P. Pilot study of a video-based educational program to reduce family violence for parents of adult children with schizophrenia. Psychiatric Quarterly. 2020; 91: 547-560.

Labrum T, Solomon P. Serious mental illness and incidents between adult children and parents responded to by police. Psychological Medicine. 2020 Jul 14:1-10.

Labrum T, Solomon P, Marcus S. Victimization and perpetration of violence involving persons with mood and other psychiatric disorders and their relatives. Psychiatric Services. 2020; 71: 498-501.

Masin-Moyer M, Kim JC, Engstrom M, Solomon P. A scoping review of the Trauma Recovery and Empowerment Model (TREM). Trauma Violence & Abuse. 2020 Nov 10:1524838020967862.

Simonsson P, Farwell MM, Solomon PL. Judicial perspectives on mental health courts: The role of psychiatric disorder and violence risk. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry. 2020; 70: 101562.

Barchi F, Winter SC, Dougherty D, Ramaphane P, Solomon PL. The association of depressive symptoms and intimate partner violence against women in northwestern Botswana. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. posted online August 2018.

Kageyama M, Solomon P, Yokoyama K, Nakamura Y, Kobayashi S, Fujii C. Violence towards family caregivers by their relative with schizophrenia in Japan. Psychiatric Quarterly. 2018; 89: 329-340.

Marilyn S. Sommers, PhD, RN, FAAN
Lillian S. Brunner Professor of Medical-Surgical Nursing Director of Center for Global Women’s Health

Marilyn Sommers

Dr. Sommers is known for her expertise in the physiologic basis of critical illness and injury. She has taught graduate courses in advanced physiology and pathophysiology, and in particular, the cellular changes that occur with injury and shock.

Dr. Sommer has developed innovative strategies to understand patterns of physical injury resulting from sexual assault. In the groundbreaking first phase of her team’s research funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR; R01NR05352; F31NR009727), they found that females with dark skin had a lower genital injury frequency and prevalence following consensual and non-consensual sexual intercourse than females with light skin. With funding from NINR and National Institute of Mental Health (2R01NR05352), she tested novel ways to identify injury through digital image analysis, and determines innovative strategies to measure injury across the continuum of skin color and range of skin mechanics.

Recent Select Publications

Algase D, Stein K, Arslanian-Engoren C, Corte C, Sommers MS, Carey MG. An eye toward the future: Pressing questions for our discipline in today’s academic and research climate. Nursing Outlook. 2021; 69: 57-64.

Abboud S, Flores D, Redmond L, Brawner BM, Sommers MS. Sexual attitudes and behaviours among Arab American young adults in the USA. Culture, Health, & Sexuality. 2020; 3:1-17.

Kim T, Draucker CB, Bradway C, Grisso JA, Sommers MS. Somos Hermanas Del Mismo Dolor (We Are Sisters of the Same Pain): intimate partner sexual violence narratives among Mexican immigrant women in the United States. Violence Against Women. 2017; 23: 623–642.

Brawner BM, Sommers MS, Moore K, Aka-James R, Zink T, Brown KM, Fargo JD. Exploring genitoanal injury and HIV risk among women: Menstrual phase, hormonal birth control, and injury frequency and prevalence. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. 2016; 71: 207-212.

Susan B. Sorenson, PhD
Professor of Social Policy, Professor of Health & Societies

Susan Sorenson

Professor Susan B. Sorenson has a unique interdisciplinary background in epidemiology, sociology, and psychology. She moved to Penn in 2006 after more than 20 years at the UCLA School of Public Health. Since 1986, she has taught a graduate course in family and sexual violence – the first violence prevention course in a school of public health in the nation. She directed the Ortner Center from 2008 to 2021.

A primary focus of her work is the social context in which violence occurs, specifically, the norms that shape whether and how violence is tolerated. With over 150 publications to her credit, Professor Sorenson has published widely in the epidemiology and prevention of violence, including the areas of homicide, suicide, sexual assault, child abuse, battering, and firearms.

Professor Sorenson’s contributions to science include framing violence against women as a public health issue, studying firearms as a consumer product, and applying multiple and emerging research methods to the study of the epidemiology and prevention of violence. Policy implications are a core aspect of her research.

In addition to her academic work, Dr. Sorenson has served on the board of directors and advisory boards of local community-based organizations, state government agencies, and university injury prevention centers. In 1991, she co-founded the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles, a broad coalition of agencies and individuals which continued for over a generation. She has provided invited testimony on violence prevention at the local, state, and federal levels.

Professor Sorenson was a member of the National Academy of Science’s Panel on Research on Violence Against Women, a consultant to President Clinton’s National Advisory Council on Violence Against Women, a consultant to UNICEF’s May 2000 report on Domestic Violence Against Women and Girls, a member of the advisory panel for the 2001 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Youth Violence, and the author of a 2008 WHO report on health indicators of violence against children in low- and middle-income countries. Most recently, she was a member of the 2013 Institute of Medicine committee Priorities for a Public Health Research Agenda to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-related Violence. Professor Sorenson currently is serving a second term as a member of the Committee on Law and Justice at the National Academy of Sciences.  She also serves on the advisory board for the Biden Foundation in their efforts to end violence against women.

Recent Select Publications

Sorenson SB, Sinko L, Berk RA. The endemic amid the pandemic: Seeking help for violence against women in the initial phases of COVID-19. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2021; 36: 4899–4915.

Berk RA, Sorenson SB. An algorithmic approach to forecasting rare violent events: An illustration based in intimate partner violence perpetration. Criminology & Public Policy, 2020; 19: 213-233.

Cardoso LF, Sorenson SB, Webb O, Landers S. Recent and emerging technologies: Implications for women’s safety. Technology in Society, 2019; 58: article 101108.

Small D, Sorenson SB, Berk RA. After the gun: Examining police visits and intimate partner violence following incidents involving a firearm. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 2019, 42: 591–602.

Sorenson SB, Schut R. Non-fatal gun use in intimate partner violence: A systematic review of the literature. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 2018; 19: 431-442.

Sorenson SB, Spear D. New data on intimate partner violence and intimate relationships:  Implications for gun laws and federal data collection. Preventive Medicine, 2018; 107: 103-108.

Anne Teitelman, CRNP, PhD, FAAN
School of Nursing Associate Professor

Anne Teitelman

Recent Select Publications

Wright EN, Hanlon A, Lozano A, Teitelman AM. The impact of intimate partner violence, depressive symptoms, alcohol dependence, and perceived stress on 30-year cardiovascular disease risk among young adult women: A multiple mediation analysis. Preventive Medicine. 2019; 121: 47-54.

Kim SK, Teitelman AM, Muecke M, D’Antonio P, Stringer M, Grisso JA. The perspectives of volunteer counselors of Korean immigrant women experiencing intimate partner violence. Issues in Mental Health Nursing. 2018; 39: 888-895.

Wright EN, Hanlon A, Lozano A, Teitelman AM. The association between intimate partner violence and 30-year cardiovascular disease risk among young adult women. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 2018: 886260518816324.

Jemmott JB, Jemott LS, O’Leary A, Ngwane ZP, Teitelman AM, Makiwane MB, Bellamy SL. Effect of a behavioral intervention on perpetrating and experiencing forced sex among South African adolescents:  A secondary analysis of a cluster randomized trial. JAMA Network Open, 2018; 1: e181213.

Lyle Ungar, PhD
Computer and Information Science Professor

Lyle Ungar

Recent Select Publications

Merchant RM, Asch DA, Crutchley P, Ungar LH, Guntuku SC, Eichstaedt JC, Hill S, Padrez K, Smith RJ, Schwartz HA. Evaluating the predictability of medical conditions from social media posts. PLoS One. 2019; 14: e0215476.https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0215476



Michelle Dempsey, JD, LLM, DPhil
Villanova School of Law Professor and Associate Dean of Faculty Research & Development

Michelle Dempsey

Michelle Madden Dempsey teaches and writes in the areas of criminal law, feminist legal theory, and jurisprudence at the Villanova University Law School, where she also serves as the Associate Dean of Faculty Research and Development. In 2015, she co-founded the Villanova Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation. Professor Dempsey received her BA from the University of Illinois, JD from the University of Michigan Law School, LLM from the London School of Economics, and D Phil (PhD) from the University of Oxford.

Following law school, she worked as a domestic violence prosecutor in the Champaign (Illinois) County State’s Attorney’s Office and later as a plaintiff’s tort litigator in one of Chicago’s premiere personal injury law firms. As a civil litigator, she obtained a record-setting jury verdict of $10.62 million in a medical malpractice trial and a $3.5 million jury verdict in a wrongful death case involving a shooting death by Chicago Police officers.

She was a tutor in law at University College London and served as an expert consultant on domestic violence prosecutions to the Crown Prosecution Service of England and Wales prior to joining the Oxford Law faculty in 2005.  At Oxford, she was a University Lecturer (CUF) in Law and a Tutorial Fellow. She left Oxford In 2009 to join Villanova where she teaches Criminal Law, Evidence, Jurisprudence, Feminist Legal Theory, and Sexuality & Law.

Prof. Dempsey has been working to combat commercial sexual exploitation since the late 1990s, when she served as a lobbyist in Vienna during the United Nations negotiations and drafting of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons. She has worked on behalf of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and has served as a consultant to the former U.N. Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons.

Recent Select Publications

Dempsey MM. Sex, work, and crime. In Bogg A, et al. (eds.), Criminality at Work. Oxford University Press, 2020.

Dempsey MM. Criminalization in domestic & international law: Considering sexual violence. Criminal Law & Philosophy. 2018; 12: 641-656.

Dempsey MM. What counts as trafficking for sexual exploitation? How legal methods can improve empirical research. Journal of Human Trafficking. 2017; 3: 61-80.

Dempsey MM. Domestic violence and the United States’ criminal justice system. In Bosworth M, et al. (eds.), Contours of Criminal Justice. Oxford University Press, 2016.

Melissa Dichter, PhD
Temple University, School of Social Work Associate Professor

Melissa Dichter

Melissa Dichter is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at Temple University. Dr. Dichter earned her PhD in social welfare and master of social work from the University of Pennsylvania, and her BA in child development from Tufts University. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in health services research at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion. In addition to her role at Temple, Melissa also serves as associate director and core investigator at the VA Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion at the Crescenz (Philadelphia) VA Medical Center. Prior to her position at Temple University, Melissa was on the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health.

Dr. Dichter’s research focuses on individuals’ experiences with, and system responses to, intimate partner violence (IPV). Her work has examined healthcare system identification of and response to patient experience with IPV; IPV survivor experiences with criminal legal system intervention; health and social impacts of IPV experience; IPV survivor engagement in social services, social relationships, and advocacy; and IPV experiences of women military veterans. Dr. Dichter’s work has also focused on identifying and meeting the health and psychosocial needs of women military veterans and of gender and sexual minority populations. Dr. Dichter has methodological expertise in primary data collection, mixed methods and qualitative research methods, and community-engaged research.

Recent Select Publications

Creech SK, Pulverman CS, Kroll-Desrosiers A, Kinney R, Dichter ME, Mattocks K. Intimate partner violence among pregnant veterans: Prevalence, associated mental health conditions, and health care utilization. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 2021 Jan 19.

Dichter ME, Ogden SN, Tuepker A, Iverson KM, True G. Survivors’ input on health care-connected services for intimate partner violence. Journal of Womens Health. 2021 Jan 8.

Dichter ME, Makaroun L, Tuepker A, True G, Montgomery AE, Iverson K. Middle-aged women’s experiences of intimate partner violence screening and disclosure: “It’s a private matter. It’s an embarrassing situation”. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 2020; 35:2655-2661.

Sorrentino AE, Iverson KM, Tuepker A, True G, Cusack M, Newell S, Dichter ME. Mental health care in the context of intimate partner violence: Survivor perspectives. Psychological Services. 2020 Apr 2:10.

Dichter ME, Sorrentino AE, Haywood TN, Tuepker A, Newell S, Cusack M, True G. Women’s participation

in research on intimate partner violence: Findings on recruitment, retention, and participants’ experiences. Women’s Health Issues. 2019; 29: 440-446.

Haya Itzhaky, PhD
Bar-Ilan University Professor and Former Dean, School of Social Work

Haya Itzhaky

Haya Itzhaky, PhD, is a Professor at and the former Director of the School of Social Work at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel. Professor Itzhaky has conducted multiple research studies around the globe (South America, Australia, Nepal, India, Canada, Israel, and the U.S.) on community practice topics ranging from trauma to citizen participation to domestic violence. She recently conducted one of the few longitudinal studies of women who lived in a battered women’s shelter. She also has developed a program for community development and community organizations.

Professor Itzhaky is presently a consultant to Israel’s Minister of Welfare. She was Chairman of the Council of the Directors of University-based Schools of Social Work in Israel and is currently the Head of the Ph.D. Program at the School of Social Work in Bar-Ilan University.

Recent Select Publications

Ben-Porat A, Levy D, Kattoura O, Dekel R, Itzhaky H. Domestic violence in Arab society: A comparison of Arab and Jewish women in shelters in Israel. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 2021; 36: NP26-NP45.

Dekel R, Shaked O, Ben-Porat A, Itzhaky H. The interrelations of physical and mental health: Self-rated health, depression, and PTSD among female IPV survivors. Violence Against Women. 2020; 26: 379-394.

Levy D, Ben-Porat A, Kattoura O, Dekel R, Itzhaky H. Predicting depression among Jewish and Arab Israeli women who are victims of intimate partner violence. Violence Against Women. 2020; 26: 1209-1227.

Shaked O, Dekel R, Ben-Porat A, Itzhaky H. Predicting changes in PTSD and depression among female intimate partner violence survivors during shelter residency: A longitudinal study. Psychological Trauma. 2020 Aug 20.

Dekel R, Shaked OZ, Ben-Porat A, Itzhaky H. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder upon admission to shelters among female victims of domestic violence: An ecological model of trauma. Violence & Victims. 2019; 34: 329-345.

Refaeli T, Levy D, Ben-Porat A, Dekel R, Itzhaky H. Personal and environmental predictors of depression among victims of intimate partner violence: Comparison of immigrant and Israeli-born women. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 2019; 34: 1487-1511.

Mary P. Koss, PhD
University of Arizona Regents’ Professor

Mary Koss

Mary Koss, PhD, is a Regents’ Professor in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona. She published the first national study sexual assault among college students in 1987. She was the principal investigator of the RESTORE Program; the first restorative justice program for sex crimes among adults that was quantitatively evaluated.  She also directed Safety Connections, a restorative justice-based family strengthening program for children under 5 exposed to violence.  She has developed resources for campus use including ARC3 Campus Climate Survey and the STARRSA model for rehabilitation of those responsible for sexual misconduct. Her ongoing work evaluates a sexual assault primary prevention program focusing on staff of alcohol serving establishments. She recently published a test of the “serial rape” hypothesis among college men. Her credentials document close to 300 publications. The most recent appeared in American Psychologist and focused on victim voice and in re-envisioning responses to sexual and physical violence, better responses to underserved populations, and greater alignment of funding from the Violence Against Women Act funding with expressed victim needs.

Dr. Koss has provided consultations for national and international governments and health and advocacy organizations. Since 2016 she has advised the US Departments of Justice, Education, and the White House Taskforce on Campus Sexual Assault. She was the 8th recipient of the Visionary Award from End Violence Against Women International. She has received awards from the American Psychological Association: The Award for Distinguished Contributions to Research in Public Policy (2000) and the Award for Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology (2017).

Recent Select Publications

Schaaf S, Lamade RV, Burgess AW, Koss M, Lopez E, Prentky R. Student views on campus sexual assault. Journal of American College Health. 2019; 67: 698-705.

Anderson EJ, Krause KC, Meyer Krause C, Welter A, McClelland DJ, Garcia DO, Ernst K, Lopez EC, Koss MP. Web-based and mhealth interventions for intimate partner violence victimization prevention: A systematic review. Trauma Violence & Abuse. 2019 Nov 19:1524838019888889.

Felitti VJ, Anda RF, Nordenberg D, Williamson DF, Spitz AM, Edwards V, Koss MP, Marks JS. Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults: The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2019; 56: 774-786.

Donde SD, Ragsdale SKA, Koss MP, Zucker AN. If it wasn’t rape, was it sexual assault? Comparing rape and sexual assault acknowledgment in college women who have experienced rape. Violence Against Women. 2018; 24: 1718-1738.

Lamade RV, Lopez E, Koss MP, Prentky R, Brereton A. Developing and implementing a treatment intervention for college students found responsible for sexual misconduct. Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research. 2018; 10: 134-144.

Koss MP, White JW, Lopez EC. Victim voice in reenvisioning responses to sexual and physical violence nationally and internationally. American Psychologist. 2017; 72: 1019-1030.

Travis Labrum, LCSW, PhD
University of Pittsburgh, School of Social Work Assistant Professor

Travis Labrum

Travis Labrum, LCSW, PhD, is an Assistant Professor with the School of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh. He currently researches issues pertaining to persons with serious mental illness and their families (including substance use, caregiving, money management and—of note—family conflict and violence) and elder abuse by persons with or without mental illness. Prior to becoming a researcher, he worked as a social worker for 9 years at a community mental health center in Salt Lake City, UT, providing mental health, substance abuse, and domestic violence perpetration treatment.

Recent Select Publications

Labrum T, Zingman MA, Nossel I, Dixon L. Violence by persons with serious mental illness toward family caregivers and other relatives: A review. Harvard Review of Psychiatry. 2021; 29: 10-19.

Labrum T, Solomon P. Serious mental illness and incidents between adult children and parents responded to by police. Psychological Medicine. 2020 Jul 14:1-10.

Labrum T, Solomon P, Marcus S. Victimization and perpetration of violence involving persons with mood and other psychiatric disorders and their relatives. Psychiatric Services. 2020; 71: 498-501.

Labrum T, Solomon P. Safety fears held by caregivers about relatives with psychiatric disorders. Health and Social Work. 2018; 43: 165-174.

Labrum T, Solomon PL. Elder mistreatment perpetrators with substance abuse and/or mental health conditions: Results from the National Elder Mistreatment Study. Psychiatric Quarterly. 2018; 89: 117-1287.

Labrum TK, Solomon PL. Rates of victimization of violence committed by relatives with psychiatric disorders. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 2017; 32: 2955-2974.

Emily F. Rothman, ScD
Boston University School of Public Health Professor

Emily Rothman

Emily F. Rothman, ScD, is a Professor at the Boston University School of Public Health with secondary appointments at the Boston University School of Medicine in Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine. She is also a visiting scientist at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. Dr. Rothman has authored more than 80 publications that span the areas of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, firearm violence, and pornography. She has been a PI or coinvestigator on numerous NIH and NIJ research grants and worked closely with multiple state sexual assault and domestic violence coalitions, state health departments, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on issues related to sexual assault prevention.

Recent Select Publications

Rothman EF, Cuevas CA, Mumford EA, Bahrami E, Taylor BG. The psychometric properties of the Measure of Adolescent Relationship Harassment and Abuse (MARSHA) with a nationally representative sample of U.S. youth. Journal of Interpers Violence. 2021 Jan 5:886260520985480.

Rothman EF, Beckmeyer JJ, Herbenick D, Fu TC, Dodge B, Fortenberry JD. The prevalence of using pornography for information about how to have sex: Findings from a nationally representative survey of U.S. adolescents and young adults. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 2021 Jan 4.

Stone R, Campbell JK, Kinney D, Rothman EF. “He would take my shoes and all the baby’s warm winter gear so we couldn’t leave”: Barriers to safety and recovery experienced by a sample of Vermont women with partner violence and opioid use disorder experiences. Journal of Rural Health. 2021; 37: 35-44.

Campbell JK, Poage SM, Godley S, Rothman EF. Social anxiety as a consequence of non-consensually disseminated sexually explicit media victimization. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 2020 Oct 27:886260520967150.

Okeke N, Rothman EF, Mumford EA. Neighborhood income inequality and adolescent relationship aggression: Results of a nationally representative, longitudinal study. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 2020 Mar 31:886260520908024.

Rothman EF, Bair-Merritt M, Broder-Fingert S. A feasibility test of an online class to prevent dating violence for autistic youth: A brief report. Journal of Family Violence. 2020.

Rothman EF, Preis SR, Bright K, Paruk J, Bair-Merritt M, Farrell A. A longitudinal evaluation of a survivor-mentor program for child survivors of sex trafficking in the United States. Child Abuse Neglect. 2020; 100: 12.

Rothman EF, Paruk J, Cuevas CA, Temple JR, Gonzales K. The development of the Measure of Adolescent Relationship Harassment and Abuse (MARSHA): Input from Black and Multiracial, Latinx, Native American, and LGBTQ+ youth. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 2020 Jul 5:886260520936367.

Laura Sinko, PhD
National Clinician Scholars Program Postdoctoral Fellow

Laura Sinko

Laura Sinko is a PhD prepared mental health nurse, sexual assault nurse examiner, and first year postdoctoral fellow in the National Clinician Scholars Program. Laura has expertise in narrative and photography research methods with the majority of her research focusing on understanding recovery after gender-based violence. Currently, Laura is conducting research to identify the impact of violence normalization on recovery after gender-based violence and is testing a pilot photo elicitation intervention to promote self-efficacy and help-seeking actions after intimate partner violence. Laura has a passion for creative research dissemination to educate survivors and service providers about the healing journey.

Recent Select Publications

Sorenson SB, Sinko L, Berk RA. The endemic amid the pandemic: Seeking help for violence against women in the initial phases of COVID-19. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2021; 36: 4899–4915.

Fauer AJ, Manges K, Stroumsa D, Sinko L, Adynski GI, Aronowitz SV, Choi KR. Catalyzing a nursing response to healthcare discrimination against transgender and nonbinary individuals. Journal of Nursing Scholarship. 2020; 52:599-604.

Sinko L, Beck D, Seng J. Developing the TIC grade: A youth self-report measure of perceptions of trauma-informed care. Journal of American Psychiatric Nurses Association. 2020 Nov 9: 1078390320970652.

Sinko L, Bulgin D, Fauer AJ, Aronowitz SV. Nursing work is justice work: Rethinking justice and promoting healing in survivors of gender-based violence. Public Health Nursing. 2020; 37: 631-636.

Sinko L, Munro-Kramer M, Conley T, Saint Arnault D. Internalized messages: The role of sexual violence normalization on meaning-making after campus sexual violence. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma. 2020, in press.

Sinko L, Saint Arnault D. Finding the strength to heal: understanding recovery after gender-based violence. Violence Against Women. 2020; 26: 1616-1635.

Sinko L, Munro‐Kramer M, Conley T, Burns CJ, Arnault DMS. Healing is not linear: Using photography to describe the day‐to‐day healing journeys of undergraduate women survivors of sexual violence. Journal of Community Psychology, 2019, in press.

Sinko L, Burns CJ, O’Halloran S, Saint Arnault D. Trauma recovery is cultural: Understanding shared and different healing themes in Irish and American survivors of gender-based violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 2019 Feb 19: 886260519829284.

Salamishah Tillet, PhD
Rutgers University Henry Rutgers Chair of African American Studies and Creative Writing

Salamishah Tillet

Salamishah Tillet, formerly an Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies and a faculty member of the Alice Paul Center for Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, moved to Rutgers in Fall 2018. At Rutgers, she is the Henry Rutgers Chair of African American Studies and Creative Writing, the Founding Director of the New Arts Social Justice Initiative at Express Newark, and the Associate Director of the Clement Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience.

Professor Tillet has appeared on the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, TEDxWomen, and written op-eds and blog posts for The Atlantic, The Chicago Tribune, The Guardian, The Nation, The New York Times, The Root, and Time. She is the co-founder of A Long Walk Home, Inc., a non-profit organization that uses art to end violence against girls and women.

To view her TEDxWomen conversation with Gloria Steinem click here. And here for articles published in The Nation – a quick online search will identify more published elsewhere.

Recent Select Publications

Tillet S. What the ‘Cuties’ critics can’t see: The complexities of Black girlhood. New York Times, October 2, 2020.

Tillet S. ‘I May Destroy You’ imagines a path back from sexual assault. New York Times, August 25, 2020.

Tillet S. A documentary for the #MeToo era. New York Times, June 3, 2020.

Tillet S. Why Harvey Weinstein’s Guilt matters to Black women. New York Times, February 26, 2020.

Tillet S, Tillet S. After the ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ documentary, #MeToo has finally returned to Black girls. New York Times, January 10, 2019.

Tillet S. No, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly were not lynched. New York Times, May 4, 2018.

Cathy Spatz Widom, PhD
John Jay College Distinguished Professor

Cathy Widom

Cathy Spatz Widom, PhD, is an international expert on the causes and consequences of child abuse and neglect. Her seminal, ongoing longitudinal study of a large sample of children with confirmed abuse and neglect in childhood is shedding light on the largely untested, but widely accepted, idea of the intergenerational transmission of violence.

A Distinguished Professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and member of the Graduate Center faculty of the City University of New York, she also has taught at Indiana University, SUNY Albany, and Harvard. She serves on the Committee on Law and Justice at the Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences at the National Academy of Sciences and was co-chair of the National Research Council panel on Juvenile Crime, Juvenile Justice. Dr. Widom has provided invited testimony to Congressional and state committees.

She is an elected fellow of the American Psychological Association, American Psychopathological Association, and the American Society of Criminology and the recipient, among other awards, of the 1989 American Association for the Advancement of Science Behavioral Science Research Prize for her paper on the cycle of violence. Most recently, she received the 2016 Stockholm Prize in Criminology.

Dr. Widom received her BS in child development and family relationships from Cornell University, and her MA and PhD in psychology from Brandeis University.

Recent Select Publications

Talmon A, Widom CS. Childhood maltreatment and eating disorders: A prospective investigation. Child Maltreatment. 2021 Feb 2:1077559520988786.

Baetz CL, Widom CS. Does a close relationship with an adult reduce the risk of juvenile offending for youth with a history of maltreatment? Child Maltreatment. 2020; 25: 308-317.

Carmel T, Widom CS. Development and validation of a retrospective self-report measure of childhood neglect. Child Abuse and Neglect. 2020; 106: 104555.

Carpi A, Nikulina V, Li X, Widom CS. Childhood maltreatment and lead levels in middle adulthood: A prospective examination of the roles of individual socio-economic and neighborhood characteristicsPLoS One. 2020; 15: e0240683.

Danese A, Widom CS. Objective and subjective experiences of child maltreatment and their relationships with psychopathology. Nat Human Behavior. 2020; 4: 811-818.

Osborn M, Widom CS. Do documented records and retrospective reports of childhood maltreatment similarly predict chronic inflammation? Psychological Medicine. 2020; 50: 2406-2415.

Widom CS, Li X. The role of psychiatric symptoms and environmental vulnerability factors in explaining the relationship between child maltreatment and suicidality: A prospective investigation. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2020; 276: 720-731.

Schuck AM, Widom CS. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in maltreated children grown up: The influence of neighborhood. Journal of Traumatic Stress. 2019; 32: 78-87.



Robert Edwin Carter Jr., MSW
African-American Resource Center Associate Director

Headshot of Robb Carter

Robert Edwin Carter, Jr., MSW (known as “Brother Robb”) recently retired from his long-time position of Associate Director of the African-American Resource Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Brother Robb is a Senior Clinician at the Men’s Resource Center, where he provides counseling to men guilty of domestic abuse. He is a former board member and lifetime member of WOAR (Women Organized Against Rape) and he co-founded PLP The Unity Performance Art Ensemble, “an expression of spiritual, social and political understanding for social change, racial healing and freedom from oppression.” Brother Robb’s work in publications and the classroom, where he lectures on topics related to race and gender, promotes peace and healing in a divided society.

Christine M. Forke, MSN, RN, CRNP
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Director, Nurse Practitioner

Christine Forke

Christine M. Forke, RN, MSN, CRNP, is a pediatric nurse practitioner and research director for the Craig-Dalsimer Division of Adolescent Medicine. For over 20 years, Chrissie has been involved in the development, execution, and analysis of multiple clinical research projects related to adolescent health and risk behaviors. She has served as the project manager of multiple large-scale studies related to access to care, sexual initiation and reproduction, relationship violence, eating disorders, and others. Ms. Forke’s primary interests relate to reproductive health and intimate partner violence.

In 2003, Chrissie chaired the Task Force on Intimate Partner Violence at the Institute for Safe Families, then a non-profit agency in Philadelphia. Under her leadership, the task force implemented a study on intimate partner violence on three local college to assess campus resources and student knowledge of these resources, estimate the prevalence of intimate partner violence among college students, and query students and staff about which resources they would find most helpful in dealing with intimate partner violence on campus.

Recent Select Publications

Forke CM, Myers RK, Localio AR, Wiebe DJ, Fein JA, Grisso JA, Catallozzi M. Intimate partner violence: Childhood witnessing and subsequent experiences of college undergraduates. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 2019 Jul 9: 886260519860909.

Forke CM, Myers RK, Fein JA, Catallozzi M, Localio AR, Wiebe DJ, Grisso JA. Witnessing intimate partner violence as a child: How boys and girls model their parents’ behaviors in adolescence. Child Abuse and Neglect. 2018; 84: 241-252.

Myers RK, Nelson DB, Forke CM. Occurrence of stalking victimization among female and male undergraduate students. Journal of College Student Development, 2016; 57: 213-218.

Wade R Jr., Cronholm PF, Fein JA, Forke CM, Davis M, Harkins-Schwarz M, Pachter LM, Bloom SL, Bair-Merritt MH.  Household and community-level adverse childhood experiences and adult health outcomes in a diverse urban population. Child Abuse & Neglect. 2016; 52: 135-145.

Gloria Gay, MSW
UPenn, Penn Women’s Center (ret.)

Gloria M. Gay

Gloria M. Gay, MSW, has dedicated her life to championing the rights of women, particularly those affected by domestic violence. Before her 2010 retirement, Ms. Gay served as the Associate Director of the Penn Women’s Center for 25 years and an adjunct instructor at the School of Social Policy & Practice. She has taught courses in adolescent sexuality, counseling, and domestic violence.

During the 1980s, Ms. Gay travelled to Kenya as an NGO representative to learn about efforts to eliminate female circumcision. In 1996, she was one of the recipients of the City of Philadelphia Human Relations Commission Award.

Ms. Gay has been a member of the Board of Directors of Women Against Abuse (WAA), a domestic violence service agency, since it was founded in the late 1970’s.

Casey Gwinn, JD
Alliance for HOPE International President

Casey Gwinn

Casey Gwinn, JD, is the President of Alliance for HOPE International, the founder of Camp HOPE America, and co-founder of the Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention.

Casey’s efforts to reduce violence against women and children span more than three decades. He founded and led the San Diego City Attorney’s Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Unit, where he prosecuted both misdemeanor and felony cases, from 1986 to 1996; co-founded the San Diego Task Force on Domestic Violence in 1986; founded the San Diego Domestic Violence Council in 1991; and served as the elected San Diego City Attorney from 1996 to 2004.

Casey led the effort to create a comprehensive, multi-agency Center bringing together many diverse services for victims of family violence under one roof, resulting in the opening of the nationally-acclaimed San Diego Family Justice Center in 2002. In January 2003, Casey and the San Diego Family Justice Center were profiled on the Oprah Winfrey Show as leading the way for other communities in developing a coordinated approach to co-locating services for victims of domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, human trafficking, and sexual assault. The Center was the model for President George W. Bush’s subsequent national initiative to create Family Justice Centers across the country and he asked Casey to lead the effort. Casey continues to oversee a national technical assistance team that supports all existing and developing Family Justice Centers in the United States and around the world.

He also has served on the U.S. Attorney General’s National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women, the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence, the Congressionally-created Department of Defense Task Force on Domestic Violence, and more.

Casey has received many, many local, state, and national awards over the years including the Avon Foundation for Women Advocate of the Year Award and the Women’s E-News 21 Leaders for the 21st Century Award. He has been recognized by The American Lawyer magazine as one of the top 45 public lawyers in America. In 1993, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges recognized his Child Abuse/Domestic Violence Unit as the model domestic violence prosecution unit in the nation.

He has authored a host of articles on domestic violence and has authored or co-authored nine books (including one in Arabic and one in Spanish) on the Family Justice Center movement. He wrote the first book ever targeted to the general public on the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Study called Cheering for the Children: Creating Pathways to HOPE for Children Exposed to Trauma.  He is an honors graduate of Stanford University and UCLA School of Law.

To learn about Casey’s work to prevent and prosecute domestic violence and strangulation cases, click here.

Recent Select Publications

LaShawn R. Jefferson
University of Pennsylvania Deputy Director of Perry World House

LaShawn Jefferson

LaShawn R. Jefferson is the Deputy Director of the Perry World House at the University of Pennsylvania. Before joining Penn in 2018, she was with the Ford Foundation where she was part of the Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Justice team. She worked on gender rights and equality as a program officer on Women’s Human rights at the Foundation for nearly seven years. Before that she served as executive director of the Women’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch, which she joined in 1993. She has worked on a range of international women’s human rights issues in a variety of countries and authored multiple reports and op-eds on the topic. Her work aims to advance policies and practices that promote respect for women’s human rights, with a particular focus on the economic rights and economic participation of low-income women and women of color.

Aishah Shahidah Simmons
Annenberg School for Communication Visiting Scholar (2019-2021)

Aisha Shahidah Simmons

Aishah Shahidah Simmons is an award-winning Black feminist lesbian independent documentary filmmaker, activist, cultural worker, and  international lecturer whose work examines the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and sexual violence. She received the 2019 Breakthrough US Activist Impact Award for her wide-ranging work.

Ms. Simmons was a four-year Just Beginnings Collaborative (JBC) Fellow. Funded by the NoVo Foundation, the JBC Fellowship initiated strategies to end child sexual abuse. Her JBC-funded #LoveWITHAccountability Project focuses the power of transformative storytelling to tackle the global epidemic of child sexual abuse through the experiences, insights, and perspectives of diasporic Black child sexual abuse survivors and advocates.

During 2019 and 2020, Ms. Simmons was a Visiting Scholar at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and, before that, at Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice. She also has been an Artist-in-Residence, Lecturer, Contingent, and Distinguished Visiting Faculty at Williams College, Temple University, Scripps College, the University of Chicago, and Spelman College.

An Associate Editor of the online publication, The Feminist Wire, and a member of the Editorial Board of The Feminist Wire Books at the University of Arizona Press, Ms. Simmons’ writings are published widely, and her cultural work and activism are documented extensively. She has presented her work across North America and in numerous countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.

For more information on Ms. Simmons and her films (including the internationally acclaimed Ford Foundation-funded NO! The Rape Documentary) and publications click here.

Recent Select Publications

Simmons AS. Love WITH accountability: Digging up the roots of child sexual abuse. Chico, CA: AK Press, 2019.

2020 Lambda Literary Award winner for best LGBTQ anthology

Films (selected)

Gael Strack, JD
Alliance for HOPE International CEO

Gael Strack

Gael Strack, Esq., is the CEO and Co-Founder of Alliance for HOPE International. She spearheaded much of the initial work and research on strangulation crimes from a prosecutor’s perspective.

In her role as CEO of the Alliance for HOPE International, she provides leadership for the following programs:

  • The National Family Justice Center Alliance, which provides consulting to over 150 existing and pending Family Justice Centers around the world.
  • The Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention, which provides basic and advanced training on strangulation prevention to 5,000 professionals annually. [link to www.strangulationtraininginstitue.com]
  • The Justice Legal Network, an innovative public interest law firm of solo attorneys who have pledged to provide civil legal services to victims and their children.
  • Camp HOPE America, which, under the leadership of Casey Gwinn, provides summer camp and mentoring experiences to help children exposed to violence heal.
  • The VOICES Survivor Network – DV survivors who volunteer their time to provide awareness, education, outreach and feedback to their local Family Justice Center.

Prior to launching the Alliance for Hope with Casey Gwinn, Gael served as the Founding Director of the San Diego Family Justice Center, where she worked closely with 25 on-site government and non-profit agencies that, in 2002, came together to provide services to victims of domestic violence and their children from one location. Prior to her work at the Family Justice Center, Gael was a prosecutor at the San Diego City Attorney’s Office. She joined the office in 1987 and served in many capacities including Head Deputy City Attorney responsible for the Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Unit.

Gael has worked with multiple state and local organizations as well as national ones, for example she is a former member of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Domestic Violence. She has been honored with numerous awards, most recently by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder as the 2010 Recipient of the National Crime Victim Service Award for Professional Innovation in Victim Services.

Gael is an adjunct law professor for California Western School of Law where she teaches a course on domestic violence and the law. She has co-authored a series of articles and books about strangulation. To read her 2011 article “On the Edge of Homicide: A Prelude to Homicide” click here.

Recent Select Publications

Armstrong M Jr, Strack GB. Recognition and Documentation of Strangulation Crimes: A Review. JAMA Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery. 2016; 142: 891-897.

Faugno D, Waszak D, Strack GB, Brooks MA, Gwinn CG. Strangulation forensic examination: best practice for health care providers. Advanced Emergency Nursing Journal. 2013; 35: 314-327.





Faculty and students who are part of the Ortner Center study the remarkable range of abuse and violence, the context in which it occurs, and how best to help those who have been victimized. These succinct summaries provide a glimpse into some of the issues.

The Endemic Amid the Pandemic: Seeking Help for Violence against Women in the Initial Phases of COVID-19

The Endemic Amid the Pandemic: Seeking Help for Violence against Women in the Initial Phases of COVID-19 shows that things are not as straightforward as many might think.

Firearms and Intimate Partner Violence: Scope and Policy Implications

Firearms and Intimate Partner Violence: Scope and Policy Implications reviews policy levers by which to reduce risks posed by abusers with firearms.

Q&A with Erin Hartman

Q&A with Erin Hartman, Penn graduate and Ortner Center alum, on the Ortner Center being a hub for her launching a career in reducing gender-based violence.

From Cell to Home

From Cell to Home is a project of the Ortner Center and Penn Law’s Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice. Penn students are helping secure the release of women incarcerated in Pennsylvania.

No Visible Bruises

No Visible Bruises is the title of a compelling 2019 book. It also is a hallmark of particularly pernicious form of abuse, strangulation.

Parents and Campus Sexual Assault

Female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C)

Female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C) in the U.S. is the focus of pioneering Ivona Percec, Penn Medicine faculty and Ortner Faculty Fellow.


Student Opportunities


The Ortner Center offers competitive seed grants to support student-developed research projects. The purpose of the funding is to support independent, innovative, student-initiated research projects that will contribute to the knowledge surrounding intimate partner violence and will enhance the research skills of students so as to better prepare them for their future work as scholars. Awards range from $1000-$4000 and are contingent upon the budget justification provided by the applicant. Proposals from students at all levels and in all Schools are considered. Priority is given to applications from doctoral students. Application guidelines can be found below.


The Ortner Center conference travel grant program supports doctoral students attending professional conferences that will advance their careers. Students are encouraged to apply to present their research at the conferences although being a presenter is not a requirement.

Eligibility & Allocation

Doctoral students enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania are eligible to apply to the Ortner Center for a travel grant if they do not have other funding available to them through their own School or elsewhere. If the costs of attending a conference exceed those available through other sources, students may apply to the Ortner Center for supplemental funding. Funds will be made available taking into account the number of students applying, the availability of other travel funds, the amount requested, and previous travel funding from the Ortner Center.


Travel grant money may be used for transportation to the conference site, conference registration, lodging, and meals. For students who are presenting their work in a poster session, funds also may be used to cover costs of poster printing.

Priority will be given to applications for travel to conferences that include content related to violence within families or intimate relationships.

Applicants should consider the most economical options in developing the proposed budgets (the most economical form of travel, sharing accommodations when possible/appropriate, early student registration when available, etc.).

For conferences in the United States or Canada or Mexico, students can apply for grants of up to $1000. For other conferences, students can apply for grants of up to $1500. Faculty and students associated with the Ortner Center will review all applications and make final determinations about awards.

A commitment for travel support will be made by the Ortner Center prior to the conference. Funds will be made available on an actual cost basis (i.e., receipts).

Students presenting at a conference are asked to acknowledge the Ortner Center in their presentation materials (e.g., posters, handouts, slides).


Student Fellows


Dana Barnes
School of Social Policy & Practice

Nikita Bastin
School of Arts & Sciences

Lauren Ferreira Cardoso
School of Social Policy & Practice

Paige Fishman
School of Arts & Sciences

Connor Scarlett Hardy
School of Arts & Sciences

Heta Patel
Health & Societies

Angelina Ruffin
School of Social Policy & Practice

Lordess Shabazz
School of Social Policy & Practice


Caitlin Axtmayer
School of Social Policy & Practice

Emily Grace Berkowitz
School of Social Policy & Practice

Clare Choi
School of Arts & Sciences

Sarah Fortinsky
Political Science

Tanya Jain
Health & Societies

Natasha Danielá McGlynn
School of Arts & Sciences

Sonia Reardon
School of Arts & Sciences

Aminat Balogun
Health & Societies

Ana Michelle Bowens
School of Social Policy & Practice

Madison Dawkins
School of Arts & Sciences

Alison Fedoris
School of Social Policy & Practice

Ally Johnson
School of Arts & Sciences

Payal Pal
School of Social Policy & Practice

Adina Pomeranz
School of Social Policy & Practice


Mira Bajaj
Cognitive Sciences

Rachel Benjamin
School of Social Policy & Practice

Blanca Castro
School of Social Policy & Practice

Samantha Daniels
School of Social Policy & Practice

Michelle Donnelly
School of Social Policy & Practice

Tugce Ellialti
School of Arts & Sciences

Anna Estep
School of Engineering and Applied Science

Erin Hartman
School of Nursing

Nia Kaudo
School of Arts & Sciences

Danielle Kennedy
Perelman School of Medicine

Linda Lin
School of Arts & Sciences

Xochitl Luna Marti
Perelman School of Medicine

Meghana Nallajerla
School of Arts & Sciences

Makayla Reynolds
School of Arts & Sciences

Kelly Sagastume
School of Social Policy & Practice

Leticia Salazar
School of Arts & Sciences

Kate Sohn
Health & Societies

Isabel Taccheri
School of Social Policy & Practice

Greta Yucong Lu
School of Arts & Sciences

Abbie Zislis
Health & Societies


Isabella Auchus

Irtiqa Fazili
Health & Societies

Sydney Giller
Graduate School of Education

Travis Labrum
School of Social Policy & Practice

Eleanora Mei
School of Arts & Sciences

Elizabeth Novack
School of Nursing

Robyn Oster
School of Arts & Sciences

Devan Spear
School of Arts & Sciences

Roshani Waas
School of Nursing

Olivia Webb
Heatlh & Societies

Jenny Wolff
School of Social Policy & Practice


Aliya Hamid Rao
School of Arts & Sciences

Rebecca Schut
School of Arts & Sciences

Rui Shi
Annenberg School for Communication

Havian Vidal Nicholas
School of Nursing

Jingwen Zhang
Annenberg School for Communication


Alexander Izydorczyk
Economics and Statistics

Su Kyung Kim
School of Nursing


Maryam Akbari
Perelman School of Medicine, School of Dental Medicine


Lizzie Sivitz
School of Arts & Sciences


Matt Amalfitano
Health & Societies

Manisha Joshi
School of Social Policy & Practice

Kristie A. Thomas
School of Social Policy & Practice

Tiffany Dovydaitis Kim
School of Nursing


Executive Program

Introducing the Executive Program in Leadership Strategy for Violence & Abuse Prevention, the first and only executive program for people and organizations working to end violence and abuse. Whether you’re just starting out or the Executive Director of an established agency, this program will enhance your strategic leadership and management skills for more effective social impact work.

The executive program in Leadership Strategy for Violence & Abuse Prevention is currently on hold. As COVID-19 continues to reverberate across the globe, we will pause, gather information, reassess, and adapt. Whatever emerges from our reboot, we remain steadfast in the Ortner Center vision – Safe Daughters, Confident Women, Strong Society.


Katie Marshall

Katie Marshall

Katie Marshall was in the inaugural cohort of the Ortner Center’s Executive Certificate program in Social Impact Strategy in 2019.A guiding intention throughout her career has been supporting college students in developing more healthy and productive lives. She is a licensed professional counselor and founded StandforState, Penn State’s bystander intervention initiative. She spearheaded its inception, development, and implementation from 2013-2019. Since launching university-wide in 2016, 250+ instructors have been certified; 7000+ students, faculty, and staff have been trained; and 36%of students at the main campus can articulate steps to intervene in risky situations. She has held positions in Counseling and Psychological Services, and the Health Promotion and Wellness offices at Penn State. Marshall earned degrees in Education and Psychology from York College, Nebraska. She completed a dual-title ME.d. in Counselor Education and Comparative & International Education from Penn State University. She provides consultation and mentorship on developing initiatives around social impact as well as bystander intervention.

Lisa Quattlebaum

Lisa Quattlebaum

Lisa is an activist, innovator, and changemaker. Her professional leadership path has neither been linear nor without obstacle, particularly as a GenXwoman of color and single mom. Television network publicist, children’s book designer, restaurant business manager, and educator are a few of her past career iterations. A native Philadelphian, Lisa lived in Asia for 12 years and holds advanced degrees inArt, Education and Social Impact Strategy. As the founder of The Homesteadista, she’s missioned to leverage narrativerich media, including solutions-based journalism, to explore the intersection of women’s leadership and urban revival.

Through safe and highly collaborative spaces, she hopes to position women as instigators or social justice and vital partners in the movement to create safe, thriving, and inclusive cities.

Lordess Shabazz

Lordess Shabazz

Lordess Shabazz is a first year graduate student of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice Nonprofit Leadership Program. She currently works as the Job Development Regional Manager of Avanzar’s Displaced Homemaker and Self Sufficiency Services Program in both Atlantic and Mercer Counties of New Jersey. She advocates for the economic security and financial self sufficiency of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking survivors. She is passionate about exposing and combating the often hidden effects of financial abuse, especially within marginalized groups. She most recently participated in the Rutgers University School of Social Work’s New Jersey Victim Assistance Academy where she further developed core competencies in serving and supporting persons in crisis. As both a student fellow and teaching fellow of the Ortner Center on Violence and Abuse, she is elated to engage with the current and next generation of violence prevention practitioners.

Lindsay Young

Lindsey Young

Lindsay is the founder of the SisterGirl Collective, an organization that celebrates black women’s tradition of intergenerational gathering through storytelling. She has a passion for advocating for women and girls and sees storytelling as an effective tool for community healing, inspiration, action and understanding. She has over ten years of professional experience that includes serving as legal counsel for financial institutions, acting as Executive Director of a literacy and youth development non-profit supporting students in Ghana and advising startup companies in strategy and operational matters. Lindsay holds a JD from Georgetown University Law Center, a BA in Political Science from Spelman College and an Executive Certificate in Social Impact Strategy from University of Pennsylvania.



Margaret Ackerman

Samina Ahsan

Maria Altonen

Katie Amber

Shannon Dunne

Kira-Lynn Ferderber

Sarah Fitzgibbons

Alicia Fuller

Dorislee Gilbert

Sara Giza

Cindy Gross

Nayanika Guha

Laurel Soleil Lyla Lambkin

Nicole Lawrence-White

Ivette Izea-Martinez

Danielle Moore

Luisa C. Murillo

Nwando Ofankansi

Allison O’Malley

Suzannah Rogan

Alana Sacks

Khnuma Simmonds

Jackie Strohm

Natalie Teague


Genevieve Berrick

Artaga Carey

Gabrielle Crowley

Vicki Francois, Esq

Michelle Hickman Harrington

Monique Howard, EdD, MPH

Nicole Kelner

Melodie Kruspodin

Lauren Lockwood

Johnna Marcus, LSW

Katie Marshall

Lisa Quattlebaum

Sarah Sullivan

Darlene Szeles

Azucena Ugarte

Alyasha Walker

Student Fellows


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Ortner Center on Violence & Abuse

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Ortner Center on Violence & Abuse

University of Pennsylvania

3815 Walnut St.

Philadelphia, PA 19104


Apply to become a Fellow with the Center.