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Yale, community provider to pioneer new program for survivors of domestic violence

October 25, 2018

Yale will collaborate with a local provider in the Greater New Haven area to create a new community-based, peer-led intervention program for survivors of domestic abuse.

Tami Sullivan, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director of Family Violence Research and Programs at Yale School of Medicine, will develop and supervise the program with Cindy Carlson, Program Manager of Community Services at the Umbrella Center for Domestic Violence Services (UCDVS) based in North Haven.

The program aims to improve the health, safety, and well-being of domestic violence survivors through the creation of a nine-session peer-led support group that will integrate skill building and support for survivors. The program aims to be flexible enough to meet the needs of survivors, yet structured so it could be replicated elsewhere if determined to be effective.

Unlike traditional support groups, women who have experienced domestic violence and are far enough along in their healing and recovery will be recruited and trained to co-lead this intervention. This approach embraces a client-centered and strength-based philosophy.

There is little evidence in the field to gauge the effectiveness of this model. Yale researchers will use data and feedback from program clients, administrators, and staff to compare the new program to traditional support groups. They hypothesize that women in the new program will experience enhanced safety, increased support, and greater empowerment.

Sullivan said that if results are favorable the program could become a model used by domestic service providers across the United States.

UCDVS provides an array of behavioral health services to domestic violence survivors and their children in Greater New Haven and the Naugatuck Valley. UCDVS is a program of BH Care, which is designated by the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services as the local mental health authority for 11 towns in Greater New Haven and the Naugatuck Valley.

Sullivan is a national leader in the research and implementation of programs for victims of domestic violence. She has been honored for her leadership and commitment to improving the lives of domestic violence victims in Connecticut, participated in a White House roundtable on domestic violence in 2016, and with her colleagues at Yale (Kaufman) and Michigan State University (Maxwell) is studying programs to prevent homicide among domestic violence victims.

Submitted by Christopher Gardner on October 25, 2018