Claire M. Renzetti: Stories of Research to Reality: How the Social Sciences Change the World

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    • 00:02

      JOHN SIDES: Next, we're pleased to welcome Claire Renzetti, whois the Judi Conway Patton EndowedChair in the Center for Research on Violence Against Women,and also a Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociologyat the University of Kentucky.She is a founding editor of the Sage journalViolence Against Women and has, of course,authored and edited many other books and book chaptersand articles on this subject.

    • 00:22

      JOHN SIDES [continued]: Her research into violence against womenhas focused primarily on socially andeconomically-marginalized women, and more recentlyon the role of religiosity in the perpetrationand victimization of violence, as well asthe potential therapies that might in some senseremediate the consequences of that violence.We're very pleased to welcome Claire Renzetti.[APPLAUSE]

    • 00:50

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI: Thank you, John.And thank you all for being here this morning.I'm delighted to join you.I'm going to begin by telling a little story.There is no international intrigue, no CIA or anything.It's a story I like to call, whatif you start a journal and nobody submits a manuscript?

    • 01:14

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: It's one of my favorite stories.It starts in 1994.Terry Hendricks, who was then an acquisitions editor at Sage,invited me to edit a new journal that hewas starting that was going to becalled Violence Against Women.And when he asked me to do this, I was excited and I was honored

    • 01:37

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: and, most of all, I was terrifiedbecause the question I kept asking myself was,what if we launch this journal and nobodysubmits any manuscripts?And I was even more afraid because the plan wasto launch the journal eight months after wesigned the contract.So I had to have a journal in print

    • 01:59

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: in about eight months, a journal issue.My worries, though, fortunately were quickly proved unfoundedsince within three years of publishing the first issuein 1995, we increased from quarterly publicationto bi-monthly publication.And by the fifth year, we were publishing monthly.

    • 02:21

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: And even though our acceptance rate has remained consistentlylow-- and those of you who know journal publishing knowthat's a good thing, you want it to below-- we have enough of a backlogto increase production even more.And next year I'm hoping we'll go to 14 issues a year.So obviously, there is no shortage

    • 02:41

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: of outstanding research in the field of violenceagainst women.And to some extent, this is a resultof the passage of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994.VAWA mandated funding for research, especially researchto evaluate and improve the criminal justice responseto violence against women.In fact, between 1995 and 2012, which

    • 03:04

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: is the last year for which I have data,Congress appropriated nearly $70 millionfor research and evaluation in the areaof violence against women.And much of this funding was awarded throughand administered by the National Institute of Justice.So to say that this law and the research that it'shelped to fund have been impactful

    • 03:25

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: is truly an understatement.This research is not research to satisfysome idle academic curiosity.This is purpose-driven research.It is translational research.So I want you to consider some of the examplesof this type of research and what it has addressed.

    • 03:47

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: Since the early years of the anti-violence against womenmovement in the 1970s, advocates and service providershave urged law enforcement and the courtsto take violence against women seriously.And for many, this meant that police officersshould arrest abusive intimate partners when they respond

    • 04:08

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: to a call for help instead of what they historicallyhad done, which was to talk to the perpetrator-- Ido on-the-spot counseling, for instance--or to separate the partners for a period of time.And then they were back together at home.Using data from the Minneapolis domestic violence experiment

    • 04:29

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: and the subsequent Spouse Assault Replication Program,VAWA encouraged jurisdictions to favor arrestas a response to domestic violence.And so many jurisdictions adopted mandatory arrestor pro-arrest policies that required or strongly encouragedpolice to make an arrest when respondingto a domestic violence call, in the belief that this

    • 04:52

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: would make victim's safer and it would also reduce recidivism.But continued research to evaluate these policiesrevealed that the police were sometimes arrestingvictims instead of abusers.Or they would arrest both victims and abusers,which is a problem that's known as dual arrest.

    • 05:14

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: In their defense, the police maintainedthat they couldn't always determinewho the abuser was when they were responding to a call.And if you think about this, it makes sense, right?Because the police are respondingand they have to make a decision very, very quickly.And they're told you have to arrest if you're respondingto a domestic violence call.And they get there and the partners

    • 05:35

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: are probably still fighting.Or it's still a very highly-charged emotional scene.The victim may have defended herself against the perpetratorand fought back.So what the police see is evidencethat an assault occurred by both partners.And so they arrest both partners on the basis of that evidence.

    • 05:58

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: We also discovered that abusers becamewise to mandatory arrests pretty quickly,and that sometimes called the policebefore their partners did, and claimedthat they had been assaulted.I was an expert witness on a caserecently in which a woman had been arrestedfor stabbing her husband, but she had

    • 06:18

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: no recollection of doing this.And what had happened was he called the police while hewas driving himself to the hospital,to the emergency room, and he said, my wife stabbed me.She's still at our house.I'm terrified of her.I'm going to the hospital for treatment.Please go to the house and arrest her.When the police got there, she was sort of befuddled,

    • 06:41

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: and she wasn't quite sure what was going on.And as the case unfolded, it turned outthat he had hit her on the head with the handle of a gun,and she actually was unconscious for a while.And then he stabbed himself.And I listened to the 911 call that he made,and I looked at the photograph of his stab wounds,

    • 07:04

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: and he really did a very bad job.And I said to the attorney for her,what you need is not really me.What you need is an expert in wounds and inflictionof wounds.And it was learned that he had stabbed himselfand claimed that she had assaulted him.

    • 07:26

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: So these problems of dual arrest and arrest of victimscause great concern among researchers in the violenceagainst women field.One concern was that victims, of course,could be discouraged from calling the police for fearof being arrested themselves, especially if they had defendedthemselves against an abuser.

    • 07:46

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: And I had asked victims in a number of studies,did you ever defend yourself against the abuse?And they would look at me like I was crazyand they would say, what would you do?Would you stand there and just allow this to happen to you?Of course I defended myself.So it was very, very likely that the victimhad in fact fought back.

    • 08:07

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: So these concerns became catalystsfor additional research to again improve police responses,for instance, through training on howto identify the primary aggressorand distinguish this from self-defense.In addition, we studied how to establishspecialized domestic violence units within police departments

    • 08:28

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: to include victim advocates when the police were respondingto a call.And we evaluated the effectivenessof what's called a coordinated communityresponse in which police and prosecutors, health careprofessionals, service providers, and victim advocatescollaborate and work together to provide

    • 08:48

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: a multifaceted response to perpetrators, to victims,and to their children.Another important area of investigationhas been teen dating violence, with research focusingon the extent of the problem of violencein teen dating relationships, riskfactors for teen dating violence,and evaluation of prevention and intervention programs

    • 09:10

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: specifically designed for teens, because these programs needto be age appropriate.These studies have shown, for example,that among the most significant riskfactors are a five-year age gap between dating partners,the use of alcohol or drugs by one or both partners,and participation in other high-risk adolescent behaviors,

    • 09:32

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: such as gang involvement.In addition, there's currently longitudinal researchunderway to examine if childhood bullying behavior evolvesinto sexual harassment and teen datingviolence and the factors that appear to contributeto this trajectory.And of course, a major focus of current researchis the use of technology and social media

    • 09:54

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: to perpetrate sexual harassment and various formsof victimization, such as revenge pornographyby dating partners or former dating partners.Research in the area of sexual violencehas revealed the extent to which we previously underestimatedthe crime of sexual violence.

    • 10:15

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: By simply changing the wording of one question from "Have youever been raped?"-- which very few people wanted to admitor didn't know what had happened to them was rape--to "Has anyone ever forced you to have sex when youdidn't want to?", we learned that one in seven women had

    • 10:37

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: been raped in their lifetime-- not the one in 20 as previouslythought-- but that only about 15% to 20% of rape victimsreport their crime to law enforcement.We've also learned that having Sexual Assault NurseExaminers-- or what we call SANEs-- available in emergency

    • 10:58

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: rooms improves evidence collectionand results in more positive outcomes for sexual assaultvictims.And the jurisdictions that have includedSANEs on Sexual Assault Response Teams, or SARTs,see higher victim participation in the criminal justiceprocess and, therefore, better conviction rates

    • 11:19

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: as well as positive outcomes for victims.Most recently, researchers, practitioners, advocates,and policy makers came together on the White House Task Forceto Protect Students from Sexual Assault.And Congress is currently consideringpassage of the bipartisan Campus Accountability and Safety Act

    • 11:41

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: which, among other mandates, requires universitiesto conduct annual surveys of their studentsregarding their experiences of sexual violence on campus.Clearly, the violence against women fieldis one in which there is a strong, synergisticrelationship between practitioners, policymakers,

    • 12:04

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: and researchers.VAWA certainly contributed to the developmentof this relationship.But it's really important not to forgetthat researchers and practitioners worked togethertirelessly for the passage of VAWAand have continued to lobby for reformswith every reauthorization of that law,

    • 12:25

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: and currently as Congress deliberatesthe merits of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act.But the reach of this relationshipgoes beyond our national borders.Violence against women research, service, advocacy,and public policy are global in scope.Human trafficking, female genital mutilation,

    • 12:48

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: honor killing, dowry murders, and child marriage,in addition to intimate partner violence and sexual assault,are receiving increasing attentionin countries throughout the world,including in the lawmaking bodies of these countries,again because of collaborations between researchers, serviceproviders, and advocates.

    • 13:10

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: And equally important, these collaborationsare interdisciplinary.I don't know of many problems that wecould address effectively if we onlylook at it from one discipline or through the lens of oneperspective.We learned early on in the violence against women fieldthat to develop effective responses

    • 13:31

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: to this multi-dimensional problemrequires an interdisciplinary approach.So in the journal Violence Against Women, you'regoing to find research by sociologists and criminologistsand psychologists and social workers-- allthe usual suspects, all the disciplines that you'd expect.But you're also going to find researchby nurses and public health professionals,

    • 13:53

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: by economists, and by communications and mediaspecialists.So it's hardly surprising that the subtitle of the journalViolence Against Women is An Internationaland Interdisciplinary Journal.The journal is now in its 21st year of publication,and as the founding editor it feelsgood to look back and see how far we've

    • 14:15

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: come in this field in just two decadesand to know that the work that we publishedhas made a contribution to these achievements.But we are very far from success if by success wemean that women throughout the worldare able to live their lives free of fearof being victimized by gender-based violence.I can tell you that none of us are patting each other

    • 14:36

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: on the back at this point because we stillhave a long way to go.But nevertheless, we're heartened by the progressthat's been made.And so on behalf of the researchers, practitioners,and advocates who have published their work in ViolenceAgainst Women, I really have to take this opportunityto express our gratitude to Sara Miller McCuneand to Sage Publications for the leadership role they've

    • 14:59

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: taken in the dissemination of groundbreaking, cutting-edgeresearch that has informed-- and in many cases transformed--public policy on gender-based violence in the United Statesand throughout the world.So congratulations on your 50th anniversary, and bestwishes for continued success over the next 50 years.

    • 15:19

      CLAIRE M. RENZETTI [continued]: I probably shouldn't say this, but hopefully by thenmy journal will be out of business.Or better yet, we'll have changed the title to somethinglike Women Living Safely and Fearlessly, An Internationaland Interdisciplinary Journal.Thank you.

Claire M. Renzetti: Stories of Research to Reality: How the Social Sciences Change the World

View Segments Segment :


Professor Claire M. Renzetti discusses her work in the field of violence against women. The Violence Against Women Act brought increased funding and attention to research in this field, and the research is directly tied to changes in law and policing.

Claire M. Renzetti: Stories of Research to Reality: How the Social Sciences Change the World

Professor Claire M. Renzetti discusses her work in the field of violence against women. The Violence Against Women Act brought increased funding and attention to research in this field, and the research is directly tied to changes in law and policing.

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