There are different kinds of violence. Some, like war and terrorism, are fundamentally political, aimed at masses of people more or less indiscriminately.
Far more commonly though, violence takes place between two people who know each other. Think of bullying. Sexual assault. Child abuse. Intimate partner violence.
The new Center for Research on Interpersonal Violence brings together researchers from across Georgia State University who study these more personal forms of abuse, with the goal of finding ways to combat them. The center brings together researchers from the Department of Psychology, the School of Public Health and the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies.
“Different forms of interpersonal violence are interconnected and often intersect with so many other public health problems and areas of study,” said professor Dominic Parrott of Psychology, the center’s founding director. “Because of this interconnectedness, the study of interpersonal violence is very complex and requires multiple perspectives to make real progress.”
Scholars who study violence often look at one aspect of the problem, Parrott explained. People who study perpetrators of child abuse often don’t look at whether these individuals are also violent toward their intimate partners, for example. Similarly, researchers who study date rape don’t examine sexual violence within marriage. Other areas of research focus on problems that often intersect with violence: alcohol abuse, HIV transmission, homophobia.
“One way to break down all of those silos is to bring together researchers who are studying different aspects of these problems or who are studying them from different perspectives,” Parrott said.
The center will provide options for faculty and graduate students to share grant proposals, papers and ideas. The center will also bring scholars to campus each year to speak and meet with faculty and students.
Parrott admits no amount of research will ever eradicate violence. But working together, he says, researchers can find ways to prevent violence and reduce the harm done. In practice, that could mean creating policy recommendations for governments or interventions for individuals.
“Interpersonal violence is facilitated by risk factors at multiple levels, from societal norms to individual attitudes to brain-based mechanisms,” he said. “We are trying to bring together scholars with expertise across these various perspectives in order to prevent violence and the many public health problems with which it’s associated.”
Learn more about the Center for Research on Interpersonal Violence.