Video: Laura Miller-Graff on interventions for violence on women and children

Author: Todd Boruff


“The people who most need access to care are the people who often have the least access to that care.” 

— Laura Miller-Graff

Laura Miller-Graff is assistant professor of psychology and peace studies and core faculty at the William J. Shaw Center for Children and Families at the University of Notre Dame. Her research interests include the developmental effects of exposure to violence in childhood, resiliency in children, and interventions for violence-exposed persons. More information can be found on her faculty page.

Video Transcript

My area of research is on the effects of violence on the health and development of women and children.

One of the things that most excites me about research on violence and development is seeing people's capacity to thrive, even in the wake of considerable hardship and thinking about what kinds of factors in their lives led to them being able to overcome that adversity. So how can we really help children and families thrive, and especially, as we struggle with a lot of social issues related to violence and difficult community events, I think that question is at the front of a lot of people's minds.

The people who most need access to care are the people who often have the least access to that care. A lot of my work both locally and internationally focuses on how we can deliver evidence-based, really strong interventions, but make them low cost, to make them sustainable, and make them community friendly.

We're working on piloting a group based therapy program for women that targets the negative effects of partner violence on women's mental health, and also on labor and delivery outcomes and the results so far that we're seeing are really promising. So we see declines in women's re-victimization by a partner and improvements in their mental health, but we also see benefits for infants socio-emotional and language development which is really exciting.

The Shaw Center is a really accessible, friendly, open space and I think women and their children feel really comfortable there. There's a group of researchers there whose research overlaps in really exciting and important ways. We also have faculty affiliates across the university in different academic departments and the goal is really to bring all of those areas of expertise to bear on how we can holistically approach questions that are most relevant and timely for families.

Our peace studies faculty here are an interdisciplinary faculty drawing from all areas of the university and it's been really exciting and has really challenged my research I think in important ways to have the experience of knowing both a psychology department, which is my kind of intellectual training home, but also having that interdisciplinary engagement.

Notre Dame is a home I think that appreciates both the scientific rigor of the studies that we're doing and is also attentive to and supportive of the social relevance of research in this area which is exciting.