UCF Research Guides New Initiative to Prevent Domestic Violence

University of Central Florida sociologist Jana Jasinski’s research played an important role in launching a new partnership aimed at preventing domestic violence.

Harbor House of Central Florida, in partnership with Orange County, the City of Orlando, Orange County Animal Services, the Department of Children and Families, area law enforcement agencies and 100 Women Strong, announced the creation of “Project Courage” today at Orlando City Hall.

In fulfilling its mission to prevent and eradicate domestic violence in Central Florida and pave the way for safer communities everywhere, Harbor House has developed a plan that challenges communities to work together to take action before domestic abuse occurs. Project Courage will provide training and information to individuals, families, community groups and businesses, as well as emergency responders, teachers and other community leaders. The goal is to help them learn how to recognize domestic violence, how to respond to it and where to refer those in need.

“We want to engage the community, schools, businesses, and churches to address family violence,” said Carol Wick, the CEO of Harbor House. “Project Courage empowers them to recognize and prevent domestic violence.”

Harbor House also unveiled updated domestic violence incidence maps developed by Jasinski, who chairs Harbor House’s Advisory Board, in cooperation with all area law enforcement agencies, DCF and Orange County Animal Services. These maps pinpoint local areas with a higher prevalence of domestic violence-related incidents. There was a 12.5 percent increase in domestic violence calls to law enforcement last year at a time when other crime decreased in Orange County. Child abuse reports related to domestic violence remained at a high of more than 3,000 cases.

With the financial support from 100 Women Strong with a $110,000 grant, this project will be piloted in a specific community in Orange County selected with the assistance of Jasinski’s maps. Through Project Courage, Harbor House and its partners will advise community organizations and leaders at all levels on policies regarding domestic violence to create an environment where abuse is not tolerated.

“This is a new and innovate way to address domestic violence at all levels,” said Wick. “Thanks to 100 Women Strong and our other partners, Project Courage will empower our community to work together and take a stand to make our community a safer place to work and live.”

UCF’s Jasinski studies interpersonal violence, substance abuse, the response of the criminal justice system to violence and the negative consequences of sexual assaults on children. She received her Ph.D. from the University of New Hampshire, where served as a National Institute of Mental Health Post Doctoral Research Fellow at the Family Research Laboratory.

Her research appears in Child Abuse & Neglect, Violence and Victims, Social Science Quarterly, and Journal of Interpersonal Violence. She is one of four authors of a new book “Hard Lives, Mean Streets: Violence in the Lives of Homeless Women” that will be published in April. The other authors are UCF sociology professors James Wright and Elizabeth Mustaine and University of North Florida professor Jennifer Wesely.