As part of our mission to develop and promote accessible, culturally relevant, and trauma-informed responses to domestic violence, NCDVTMH is engaged in a number of research-related activities. These include maintaining an active resource library with over 4,000 books and articles; conducting state and national surveys; producing literature reviews and research summaries; and conducting research on emerging issues. Another key area of focus is contributing to the development of culturally resonant approaches for responding to trauma in the context of domestic violence. This includes identifying promising practices, developing outcome measures, and piloting and evaluating promising interventions.

Research Summaries and Updates

NCDVTMH provides research summaries, briefs, information sheets, and updates on the intersection of domestic violence, trauma, substance abuse, and mental health. These materials draw from our extensive resource library and incorporate innovative new research relevant to survivors and their families. By producing these materials for the field, we hope to increase public awareness and promote dialogue about research, best practices, and policies for intervention and prevention of domestic violence.

Research Updates (brief descriptions of studies, along with context and commentary):

Research Summaries (collections of citations plus abstracts of peer-reviewed journal articles, with a short introduction to the topic):

Research Briefs and Information Sheets (in-depth commentary and analysis on carefully selected literature on a single topic):

Online Repository of Trauma-Focused Interventions for Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence

The first 10 models selected for the Online Repository of Trauma-Focused Interventions for Survivors of IPV came from our updated literature review. We found 51 articles that empirically evaluated a non-pharmacological treatment or intervention with trauma-relevant outcomes that included survivors of IPV. Papers were then organized into 3 groups 1) studies of trauma interventions specifically designed for survivors of IPV; 2) trauma-focused interventions with no IPV-specific modifications, but with a sample made up exclusively of IPV participants; and 3) trauma-focused intervention with no IPV-specific modifications that included survivors of IPV in a mixed study sample of other types of trauma survivors. For the Online Repository we selected an initial 10 models from this pool of published research for which there was high quality, good evidence and/or that were innovative and/or promising. Click to access the repository here:

National Needs Assessment Surveys

As part of our efforts to collect baseline information on the needs of programs, coalitions, systems, and communities, NCDVTMH has been conducting national needs assessment surveys.  These surveys have asked domestic violence/sexual assault program staff members, state-level administrators, and domestic violence/sexual assault coalition members about current practices, policies, collaborations, and needs in providing accessible, trauma-informed, and culturally relevant services to survivors and their families.

Domestic Violence Coalitions’ Needs Assessment Survey Report

In 2012, the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health, in collaboration with the National Network to End Domestic Violence, conducted a nationwide needs assessment of state, territory, and District of Columbia domestic violence coalitions to identify training and TA priorities, as well as to gather information on trauma-informed work being done at the coalition and program levels.  The Domestic Violence Coalitions’ Needs Assessment Survey Report summarizes the results of this survey, describing state-level collaborations and policy work, the availability of culturally specific services, barriers and challenges faced, supports coalitions provide to member programs, and the impact of training and TA on coalitions and programs.  This survey was conducted as part of a multi-year effort by NCDVTMH to provide support to coalitions as they work to assist their member programs in developing accessible, trauma-informed, culturally relevant domestic violence services and organizations.

State Mental Health Commissioners Survey

Following the 2005 endorsement of the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) Position Statement on Services and Supports to Trauma Survivors, many states have begun initiatives to integrate an understanding of the effects of trauma into their policies, programs, and practices. In 2013, NASMHPD and NCDVTMH worked in partnership to administer a survey to state mental health department directors. This survey collected information about states’ trauma initiatives, with a focus on how they address issues that survivors of domestic violence often face. This report details the main findings of the survey, including information on relationships between state mental health departments and domestic violence organizations, training and technical assistance needs, and ways states are incorporating domestic violence and trauma into their mental health policies and procedures.  The next phase of this project involves completing in-depth interviews with state mental health commissioners, which will be detailed in a forthcoming report.

Trauma-Informed Capacity Assessments for State Domestic Violence and Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Coalitions

Since 2013, NCDVTMH has been working with state/territory domestic and sexual violence coalitions to measure changes in their member programs’ capacity for engaging in work from a trauma-informed perspective. To this end, NCDVTMH developed the Member Programs Survey (MPS) for state/territory domestic and sexual violence coalitions, with core sections on organizational approaches to becoming more trauma-informed; availability of trauma- specific, culturally specific, and trauma-informed services; challenges and strengths in responding to the trauma-related needs of survivors; and supports available for program staff members, including trainings on trauma-informed approaches. This report provides baseline results from the MPS’s core sections, which show the remarkable depth, range, and diversity of trauma-informed practices being used by 211 domestic and sexual violence programs across 10 states.

The Member Programs’ Survey: Initial Summary of Key Results

Building an Evidence Base for Culturally Relevant Responses to Trauma in the Context of Domestic Violence

On an ongoing basis, NCDVTMH identifies evidence-based, promising, and model approaches to healing from trauma in the context of domestic violence. This includes reviewing the current literature on trauma treatment, conducting interviews with programs identified as model or promising, and holding focus groups with survivors who receive services from a diverse range of DV/SA programs across the country. We are also in the process of crafting tools to better measure meaningful outcomes for trauma-informed approaches to domestic violence services.  Taken together, these initiatives help to lay the foundation for building an evidence base for trauma-informed approaches in the context of domestic violence and other lifetime trauma.

Literature Review on Trauma Treatment in the Context of IPV

While there are numerous interventions designed to reduce trauma-related mental health symptoms, most were originally developed to address events that occurred in the past. Many domestic violence survivors are still under threat of ongoing abuse or stalking, which not only directly affects their physical and psychological safety but treatment options as well. Little has been known about the extent to which existing evidence-based trauma treatment modalities are applicable to, or require modification for, domestic violence survivors.

In order to address these concerns, the NCDVTMH, in collaboration with Cris Sullivan, PhD, and Echo Rivera, MA, at Michigan State University, conducted a formal literature review of evidence-based trauma treatments for survivors of domestic violence. The paper, A Systematic Review of Trauma-Focused Interventions for Domestic Violence Survivors, provides an analysis of nine trauma-based treatments specifically designed or modified for survivors of domestic violence, along with caveats and recommendations for research and practice going forward. The paper is part of a multi-year effort by NCDVTMH to partner with researchers, clinicians, and the domestic violence field to build an evidence base for both trauma-informed work and trauma-specific treatment in the context of domestic violence.

Promising Practices and Model Programs: Trauma-Informed Approaches to Working with Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence and Other Trauma

The National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health (NCDVTMH) is engaged in efforts to identify, assess, and share information on evidence-based and promising trauma-informed practices relevant to survivors of domestic and sexual violence. As part of these efforts, NCDVTMH conducted interviews with 45 programs or initiatives identified by their peers as engaged in innovative trauma-informed work with survivors of violence and their children. Thirty of the interviews were conducted with domestic and sexual violence advocacy programs. In addition, 15 interviews were completed with programs providing trauma-informed or trauma-specific services for refugees and survivors of torture, as information gathered from these interviews may be relevant for domestic and sexual violence programs.

The interviews were designed to gather comprehensive information about how programs are currently conceptualizing trauma-informed and trauma-specific work and how this translates into enhanced or improved services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. The interviews also identified aspects of trauma-informed services that are especially meaningful to survivors and ways that programs are measuring outcomes and evaluating the impact of their work. We were also particularly interested in culturally specific approaches to trauma and healing, including collective approaches, community-based practices, and those that can be offered by advocates and/or by trusted community members. Taken together, the information gathered from these interviews provides valuable insights on myriad ways to support survivors of domestic and sexual violence who may have experienced multiple traumatic experiences over the course of their lives.

The key themes that emerged from these interviews are summarized within this report. This project is part of a larger effort to build an evidence base for trauma-informed advocacy services and to expand our notions of healing, resilience, and recovery in the face of ongoing domestic violence and other trauma.

To download the report, please click the link below:


Emerging issues

NCDVTMH is involved in conducting research on a number of emerging issues.  Most recently, this has included a survey of mental health and substance use coercion tactics used by people who abuse their partners to further their abuse and control. In addition, NCDVTMH has completed research on emerging video technology for the delivery of distance mental health, counseling, and advocacy services in rural and other underserved areas.

Mental Health and Substance Use Coercion Surveys

Research has demonstrated that survivors of domestic violence are at greater risk for experiencing a range of mental health and substance use conditions. Yet, most are not asked about their partners’ efforts to undermine their sanity or sobriety, to control their medication and treatment, or to sabotage their recovery and access to resources and support—tactics we refer to as mental health and substance use coercion. In the spring of 2012, the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) administered two pilot surveys designed to document these tactics.

Results showed that experiences of mental health and substance abuse coercion were common among hotline callers: 89% had experienced at least one of the three types of mental health coercion, and 43% had experienced at least one of the three types of substance abuse coercion. Most of the survivors who reported any type reported more than one. For example, many survivors who reported that their abusive partner called them “crazy” and did things deliberately to make them feel “crazy,” also reported that their partners threatened to undermine their credibility with authorities and discouraged or prevented them from getting help. Similarly, many survivors who reported that their abusive partners used force or pressure to get them to use substances also reported that their partners threatened to undermine them with authorities by disclosing their substance use. In other words, abusers often contributed to their partner’s mental health or substance use condition and then used that condition against their partners.

Recognizing and addressing these issues is essential to the safety and well-being of survivors and their children and has important implications for the health, mental health, substance abuse, legal, child welfare, immigration, public benefits and domestic violence advocacy systems.

Download the full report:


  • Center Highlights

  • News & Updates