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Boosting interdisciplinary research and making Old Dominion University faculty more available to agencies, practitioners and advocates working with family violence cases is the aim of the recently-created Center for Family Violence Education and Research.

Brian K. Payne, associate professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice, was named the Center's director.

In its initial research effort, the center received a $22,000 grant, which begins July 1, from the Virginia Center on Aging's Alzheimer's and Related Diseases Research Award Fund to study care-giving stress and abuse in families providing care to Alzheimer's patients.

The study examines care-giving dynamics in Alzheimer's situations with attention given to the role of the urban neighborhood. Using protective services data, the study examines whether differences exist at the neighborhood level regarding service distributions and utilization, the experience of burden and the existence of maltreatment.

"The center is designed to foster interdisciplinary research on various forms of family violence as well as to assist in increasing awareness about this devastating crime," said Chandra de Silva, dean of ODU's College of Arts and Letters, who announced the center's creation as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Discussions about the center surfaced last March when a group of faculty prepared a training grant submitted to the Department of Justice. Janet Katz, the former interim dean of the College of Arts and Letters, encouraged faculty to look into the possibility of fostering interdisciplinary research about family violence.

"We have a number of prominent faculty with a great deal of expertise in this area and it only seemed natural to take advantage of their skills and abilities," Katz said. The Center will combine the efforts of faculty members from different colleges at ODU to generate understanding and develop training programs related to family violence.

"Our interest is in increasing understanding about all of the types of family violence, including child abuse, sibling abuse, partner abuse, and elder abuse," Payne said.

In addition to the Alzheimer's grant, others have also been submitted to provide training to different professionals encountering family violence.

Members of the center are currently developing a community advisory board to assist in providing direction for the center. The board will consist of professionals including law enforcement officers, attorneys, social service professionals, shelter workers, and other practitioners who work regularly with family violence victims and offenders.

"We have high hopes that the center will be of significant value to the community," de Silva said.

The Center will be housed in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at ODU. For information, call 683-3795.

This article was posted on: October 23, 2003

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