MSU and Yale Social Scientists team up on $2 million grant to study firearms and intimate partner violence

August 15, 2019 - Liz Schondelmayer

Social scientist Dr. Christopher Maxwell, a professor in the School of Criminal Justice, is collaborating with Dr. Tami Sullivan from the Yale University School of Medicine to better understand the relationship between the use of firearms and intimate partner violence.

The National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research awarded Dr. Maxwell and Dr. Sullivan a $2.1 million grant to conduct a study with hundreds of female intimate partner violence survivors over the course of three years. Their research team will interview each participant while analyzing medical and criminal records to better understand the survivor’s experience. The experiences of survivors who have been threatened with a firearm will then be compared to those who have not. 

“Understanding the relationship between firearms and intimate partner violence will help us to better understand the crime so that we can prevent it more effectively,” explained Dr. Maxwell. “I’m hoping that this research will better inform the criminal justice process so that we can create better outcomes for domestic violence survivors.” 

According to Dr. Maxwell, law enforcement interventions for intimate partner violence differ based on the severity of the situation. Previous research by Dr. Sullivan has shown that the presence of firearms and the fear of firearm violence are significant predictors of later PTSD symptoms. 

Dr. Maxwell and Dr. Sullivan direct the evaluation of the National Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Program with their colleague, Dr. Joy Kaufman. The program is implemented nationwide and provides law enforcement officers with research-based risk assessment tools to identify and help severely at-risk survivors.

Learn more about Dr. Maxwell and Dr. Sullivan’s research here.