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Employing Research To Understand Violence Against Women

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2019
4 pages
Publication Series

This article reviews how the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has, over the past 50 years, established and expanded its initiatives in a nationwide response to violence against women.


Some 50 years ago, violence against women, notably domestic violence, was generally viewed as a private family matter that did not warrant a law enforcement response. The women's movement of the 1960s and 1970s, as well as efforts in the late 1980s and 1990s, led to passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994. This was a recognition that violence against women is a serious public health and safety issue that warrants criminal justice intervention. It created legal protections for victims of domestic and sexual violence, and it established funding streams for responding to these crimes. As part of the federal response under VAWA, NIJ has established and continued to expand its efforts to counter violence against women. Its grant portfolio has funded just over $130 million in research on intimate partner violence, sexual violence, stalking, teen dating violence, and other concerns related to violence against women. As part of this effort NIJ funded a randomized controlled trial experiment in Minneapolis that examined various law enforcement responses to domestic violence. This study found that spending a night in jail significantly reduced the risk that a perpetrator of domestic violence would repeat abuse of an intimate partner. Also, NIJ-funded initiatives have focused on reducing widespread backlogs of untested sexual assault kits. Other descriptions of NIJ's efforts to counter violence against women pertain to violence against women in special populations, such as among dating teens and American-Indian and Alaska-Native women. NIJ's dissemination of its research results is also described.

Date Published: May 1, 2019