Coming Together in the Fight Against Intimate Partner Violence: Lessons Learned From a Researcher–Practitioner Collaboration Evaluating Cincinnati’s Domestic Violence Enhanced Response Team (DVERT)

Date01 May 2021
Published date01 May 2021
Subject MatterArticle
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice
2021, Vol. 37(2) 221 –243
© The Author(s) 2021
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/1043986221999861
Coming Together in the
Fight Against Intimate
Partner Violence: Lessons
Learned From a Researcher–
Practitioner Collaboration
Evaluating Cincinnati’s
Domestic Violence Enhanced
Response Team (DVERT)
Michelle L. T. Wojcik1, Batya Y. Rubenstein1,
Amber A. Petkus1, Maria Racadio1,
Valerie R. Anderson1, Bonnie S. Fisher1,
Pamela Wilcox2, and Amy Bleser3
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is an insidious public health concern that affects
people of all demographic backgrounds. In the city of Cincinnati, Ohio there has
been a significant increase in IPV-related homicides over the past 5 years. Women
Helping Women (WHW), a nonprofit organization that works to prevent gender-
based violence, collaborated with Cincinnati Police Department (CPD) to create
the Domestic Violence Enhanced Response Team (DVERT). Researchers from
the University of Cincinnati School of Criminal Justice were invited to work with
WHW to evaluate the program. This article discusses the history of the DVERT
program and collaboration, obstacles that ensued, lessons learned, and successes of
the relationship between the researchers, WHW, and CPD. Implications for other
researchers and practitioners looking to form partnerships are discussed.
1University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, USA
2The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA
3Women Helping Women, Cincinnati, OH, USA
Corresponding Author:
Michelle L. T. Wojcik, School of Criminal Justice, University of Cincinnati, 550S Teacher-Dyer Hall, 2610
McMicken Circle, Cincinnati, OH 45221, USA.
999861CCJXXX10.1177/1043986221999861Journal of Contemporary Criminal JusticeWojcik et al.
222 Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 37(2)
violence against women, intimate partner violence, police–community partnerships,
researcher–practitioner relationships, research collaboration, second responder
Intimate partner violence (IPV) can be characterized as acts of physical, sexual, or
psychological violence; threats; coercion; or stalking carried out by a current or former
intimate partner (Breiding et al., 2015). Recent results from the National Crime
Victimization Survey (NCVS) indicate that, in 2018, nearly 900,000 Americans expe-
rienced IPV; accounting for an average of nearly 8% of all violent crime in the United
States from 2014 to 2018 (Morgan & Oudekerk, 2019). The most violent cases of IPV
result in homicide. Data from the National Violent Death Reporting System indicates
that about 10% of all homicides occurring between 2003 and 2015 were IPV related.
Women were disproportionately victimized, encompassing 77% of all IPV homicide
victims during this time period (Velopulos et al., 2019).
In addition to its national impact, consequences of IPV can be seen at state and
local levels. More than 65,000 people in Ohio were victims of domestic violence
(DV)1 incidents during 2018, with more than 16,000 injured as a result (Ohio Bureau
of Criminal Identification and Investigation, 2019). Tragically, between July 2015 and
July 2019, 389 Ohioans were killed as a result of IPV, including six responding police
officers (Ohio Domestic Violence Network, n.d.). Reflecting national trends (Velopulos
et al., 2019) in 2018, 77% of deceased IPV homicide victims in Ohio were women2 (n
= 41; Ohio Domestic Violence Network, n.d.).
In Cincinnati, the site for this study, reported DV increased each year from 2015 to
2019, when nearly 2,000 incidents were reported (Cincinnati Police Department
[CPD], 2020). However, the real number of DV incidents in the city is likely twice that
number as national survey research has consistently shown that less than half of IPV
victimizations are reported to police (Morgan & Oudekerk, 2019). DV-related homi-
cides nonetheless represent a significant problem for the city. In 2016, almost a quarter
of Cincinnati homicides (n = 16) were committed as part of a DV incident or by an
offender with a history of DV or sexual assault (Brookbank, 2017). A recent investiga-
tion by the Cincinnati Enquirer further found that four of the nine women killed in
Cincinnati in 2019 were murdered by an intimate partner, estimates that reflect national
trends (Knight & Saker, 2020).
In response to these issues, police and a nonprofit service provider in Cincinnati
partnered to implement Cincinnati’s Domestic Violence Enhanced Response Team
(DVERT). The DVERT initiative is an example of a collaborative effort between local
police and community service providers, which frequently consists of so-called sec-
ond responder programs. These efforts involve follow-up visits with IPV survivors
during or after police response to a 911 service call. They aim to decrease incidents of
repeat IPV, improve IPV survivor experiences and outcomes, and strengthen responses
to IPV survivors in crisis during crucial opportunities for intervention (Davis et al.,

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