Skip to main content
Blog Post

Office on Violence Against Women Launches Research and Evaluation Initiative

A rape crisis center, recognizing that some victims in the community are unlikely to use counseling services, develops a peer support group model for survivors of sexual violence.  The group’s participation is at capacity and the participants say that talking with other survivors is helping them cope, but what about the model makes it successful?  Would the model work in a different community?

A police chief establishes a specialized domestic violence unit and staffs it with detectives who are specially trained to handle domestic violence cases.  What effect does this have on victims who seek help from the police, and how cases are investigated?

These are just two examples of questions that Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) grantees across the nation ask in trying to determine if what they are doing is working.  Therefore, OVW has launched a Research and Evaluation Initiative to help grantees align their work with practices that are known to be effective and to strengthen communities’ capacity to generate knowledge on the efficacy of new and promising ways of doing things.

The first step of this initiative was to develop a comprehensive understanding of what we know about the effectiveness of approaches funded by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and determine which practices require a closer look and further study.  A report summarizing this effort and describing OVW’s plans for evidence-based and evidence-building grantmaking is now available.  The report identifies the following six areas of study:

  1. Victims’ needs: how victimization and its aftermath affect people’s lives, especially people who are marginalized (including but not limited to victims who are: people of color; immigrants; male; Deaf or hard of hearing; lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender ; people with disabilities; elderly; members of cultural, linguistic and/or religious minority groups; incarcerated or formerly incarcerated; and/or living in poverty), and what they need to cope, heal and achieve safety and justice.
  2. Cultures, disparities and access: ways in which cultural differences and social inequalities matter in terms of where and to whom people go for help, and whether people are able to access justice and get services that are useful to them.
  3. Justice: ways the justice system can effectively pursue and achieve justice in cases involving domestic/dating violence, sexual assault and stalking; with justice broadly understood to include autonomy for victims, accountability for offenders, procedural fairness for all and restorative justice.
  4. Impact: short- and long-term impact of the justice system’s response, victim services and other VAWA-funded interventions on victim safety and offender accountability.
  5. Indicators of success: what success looks like and how to measure it – for victims pursing safety and justice, for offenders being held accountable for their violence and for people who work with victims and offenders.
  6. Reducing recidivism: how to prevent violence from recurring.

To develop our understanding of what works in each of the areas of study, OVW is now inviting applicants to propose projects to conduct research and evaluation on VAWA-funded activities through a solicitation released today.  This first-ever funding opportunity is designed to support researcher-practitioner partnerships, with an emphasis on enhancing knowledge and practice related to underserved and marginalized populations.  OVW is seeking field-initiated research that will produce findings that are relevant to the day-to-day work of victim advocates, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, healthcare providers, attorneys, judges and others committed to helping victims and making communities safer.  Applications are due on Monday, May 2, 2016.

All OVW open solicitations are posted at

Updated April 27, 2017