April 2021 CRVAW Newsletter

Director’s Note:

In January of this year, the journal, Violence Against Women, celebrated its 27th anniversary. During this time, the Journal has enjoyed significant success and gained prestige. Today, in the wake of what may be measured as its most successful year, and in light of the fact that the journal’s editor is the Center’s own Judi Conway Patton Endowed Chair, it seems fitting that the CRVAW PERSONNEL SPOTLIGHT this month features, Dr. Claire Renzetti. In this issue, a profile of the journal’s founding editor provides insight into the history of Violence Against Women and the research published in the journal over the past quarter century.

Diane Follingstad, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Research on Violence Against Women
Endowed Chair and Professor of Clinical and Forensic Psychology


Dr. Renzetti is an internationally known and honored sociologist/criminologist who, in addition to serving as the Editor of Violence Against Women , engages in an amazing number of roles.   She currently serves as the Chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Kentucky, conducts an active research program on gender and crime issues, is the editor for a book series while writing books herself, and is sought out as a keynote speaker and workshop organizer. Dr. Renzetti has also been lauded for her lifetime contributions to the field of Sociology and, more specifically, research on violence against women, by organizations that are authorities in her field, receiving such awards as the Saltzman Award for Contributions to Practice, given by the Women and Crime Division of the American Society of Criminology, and the Lee Founders Award given by the Society for the Study of Social Problems, in recognition of her significant lifetime achievements in research, teaching, and service. All the while, Dr. Renzetti has a reputation as being an exemplary mentor to all levels of students and professions, and was recognized in 2016 for this selfless giving of her time when she received the Peterson-Krivo Mentoring Award.

"I've never known anyone who is more giving with her time and mentorship and willingness to give to others in the field," Dr. Diane Follingstad says of her colleague. “She will jump in to help with any task needed at the Center and her willingness to lead and guide boosts morale anywhere she contributes.  You could not ask for a better colleague.” 

Dr. Renzetti has always been an innovator.  Dr. Renzetti’s studies on victimization and perpetration began in the 1970s when rape crisis centers were relatively new and she was studying how the counselors in those centers were being trained; this was the subject of her Master’s thesis. In the 1990s, she conducted the first national study of intimate partner violence in lesbian relationships.  Throughout her career, her research has often focused on the violent victimization experiences of socially and economically marginalized groups of women.

“…in order to fully understand a project you need to study groups that are understudied or that maybe don’t have a common experience because one size doesn’t fit all,” says Renzetti.

Her philosophy of focusing on the understudied also translates into service.  In an interview with the University of Kentucky , Renzetti emphasized the unique opportunities for researchers in her field that imply an obligation to engage in substantive research translation to serve the populations being studied. Research products such as publications, books, and public policy changes have the ability to directly change lives and alleviate suffering.

“Ultimately, I want to produce knowledge that’s usable to people in their everyday lives and improve their quality of life,” says Renzetti.

Recently, her research focuses on domestic sex trafficking, services for trafficking victims, and the evaluation of trainings for law enforcement and health care professionals to assist them in identifying sex trafficking victims. She also examines the effects of religiosity and religious self-regulation on intimate partner violence perpetration and victimization, and she and Dr. Follingstad are multiple PIs on a federally funded evaluation of the therapeutic horticulture program for residents of
Greenhouse 17, a Lexington, Kentucky shelter for battered women.

The establishment of the Violence Against Women Journal

Dr. Claire Renzetti was originally invited to become the inaugural editor of Violence Against Women in 1994 by Terry Hendricks, then a senior editor at Sage Publications.  At the time, Dr. Renzetti was Professor and Chair of Sociology at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, PA. The university enthusiastically supported the project with office space and funding for phone and postage expenses. The first issue was published in March 1995. The journal started with a respectable 650 subscribers who received 4 (quarterly) issues per year. Within just two years, however, the journal began publishing 6 issues per year and, by1999, publication increased to 12 issues per year. Today, Violence Against Women is published 16 times per year which is highly unusual for a journal. In 2020, the journal received more than 700 manuscript submissions. 

Violence Against Women at the intersection of research and policy

The interrelation between the journal, contemporary research, and public policy was an important part of the journal’s mission from its inception.  Dr. Renzetti highlighted this in a talk she gave in 2015 as a participant in Stories of Research to Reality: How the Social Sciences Change the World, part of the 50th anniversary of Sage Publications.  She commented on the synergistic nature of research on gender-based violence.

“We learned early on in the violence against women field that to develop effective responses to this multidimensional problem requires an interdisciplinary approach.”

In that presentation, Dr. Renzetti highlighted several examples of how researchers, practitioners and policy makers in this area have continued to build on knowledge and open doors for one another to progress in the field. For instance, in reflecting on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994, she noted,

“To say that this law and the research it has funded has been impactful is an understatement. This is not research to satisfy some academic idle curiosity. this is purpose driven research, it is translational research.”

The future of VAW

Dr. Renzetti reports that the journal is on pace so far this year to meet and perhaps even surpass the number of manuscript submissions in 2020. Despite the tremendous volume of editorial work, she encourages authors to continue to submit promising manuscripts to the journal. In addition, she encourages those interested in joining the reviewer pool to contact her. For more information on the journal and to access podcasts, videos, and other resources contributed by authors, please visit the journal’s website at https://journals.sagepub.com/home/vaw.

One Day 4 UK

The University of Kentucky's Center for Research on Violence Against Women leadership team of endowed faculty is focused on producing excellent research designed to improve the quality of life of those affected by forms of violence that disproportionately involve women. Our ultimate goal through our efforts of conducting and disseminating research is to prevent such violence.  To accomplish that aim, the Center has brought in federally funded grants; on-campus research projects; offered consultation to faculty in the preparation of research grants; facilitated access to data sets; and engaged in other initiatives to support the research interests of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates. We are proud of our accomplishments and independent donors are a valued source of contributions in our financial picture. Whether you have given in the past we hope you will consider making a gift to the Center for Research on Violence Against Women on April 21, 2021 during the annual fundraising event One Day for UK

Ignite Your Research- 3 New Episodes in April

Ignite Your Research is an educational series of video lectures from our endowed faculty and expert staff to help others learn more about research in the area of intimate partner violence, and to enhance and elevate understanding of researchers entering the field. In 2020-2021 the CRVAW lecture series is available in online on demand format in order to continue our outreach and education mission while observing social distancing precautions.  Visit our website to see the episode guide and read about us on UKNOW.

Endowed Faculty:

Diane Follingstad, Ph.D., Director since 2014 and Women's Circle Endowed Chair since 2008. 

Ann Coker, Ph.D., Verizon Wireless Endowed Chair since 2007.

Claire Renzetti, Ph.D., the Judi Conway Patton Endowed Chair since 2010. 

Camille Burnett,Ph.D., MPH, Cralle-Day Foundation Endowed Professor since 2020.

Heather Bush, Ph. D., Kate Spade & Co. Foundation Endowed Professor since 2015. 

Visit the CRVAW people webpage to learn more about our faculty, staff and internal advisory board.