Costing of Intimate Partner Violence in Emergencies

The prevalence of GBV in emergencies comes at a high impact to both individuals and societies. Humanitarian actors are increasingly asked to quantify the economic costs of GBV but are unable to do so without having field-friendly and evidence-based costing methodologies. In order to address this gap, CVIP is working with health economists to conduct an analysis of the economic costs of intimate partner violence in a conflict-affected setting. In collaboration with UNICEF, this activity builds upon previous costings of intimate partner violence by conducting a health and a labor costing in Uganda. By focusing on adolescent girls in a refugee camp context, both health and labor costs can be estimated. The research team designed this comprehensive costing to amplify advocacy and fundraising efforts.

PI: Lindsay Stark
PI: Ilana Seff

Building Partnerships to Support LGBTQ+ Asylum Seekers in Mexico

This project, funded by a Here & Next seed grant from Washington University in St. Louis, aims to create research partnerships with operational agencies along the Texas and Mexico border. We will convene with partners in person and establish a connection with international and local agencies already working to support LGBTQ+ migrants along their route to the U.S.-Mexico border. Alongside partners, we will co-develop a research agenda and obtain funding for a larger study, with the objective of filling a critical gap in the documentation of LGBTQ+ experiences and needs along migratory routes for asylum seekers from Central America. The research team will work with local agencies to design a study that examines the drivers of displacement across Central American contexts, explores the migratory risks associated with being a sexual and/or gender minority, investigates the role of social support networks, and addresses organizational needs to improve supports for LGBTQ+ asylum seeker mental health and wellbeing. 

PI: Lindsay Stark
PI: Jeremy Goldbach
PI: Julia Lopez


Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the overall goal of the Obuvumu study is to inform the future development of culturally appropriate, feasible, acceptable, and effective interventions to increase health service utilization among female survivors of sexual violence. High numbers of women experience sexual violence in Uganda, and this includes violence from intimate and non-intimate partners. Studies of past year violence have revealed that three out of four females were exposed to at least one type of sexual violence: one out of four are victims of sexual coercion, and one out of four have experienced forced sex. Experiencing sexual violence has harmful effects on physical and mental health including: unwanted pregnancy, physical injury, risky behaviors, sexual risk-taking behaviors exposing women to sexually-transmitted infections, chronic stress, depression, low self-esteem, and lack of control over reproductive choices. The negative impacts of sexual violence can be mitigated by health services providing timely and effective interventions that target injury management and psychological support. However, health services for victims of sexual violence in Uganda, and much of sub-Saharan Africa, are vastly underutilized to the extent that nine out of 10 females who experience sexual violence never seek care. Many factors contribute to limited uptake of health services in Uganda and elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa for sexual violence survivors, including psychological, cultural, economic, and other factors, such as fear and stigma. Further, health services for victims often lack sufficiently qualified staff and medical supplies, and confidentiality cannot be ensured. In the absence of timely and effective treatment, high rates of sexual violence result in serious psychological and physical consequences at a population level and compromise future social and economic development. Thus, there is a strong need for research that will generate knowledge that may be used to improve health service utilization for survivors of sexual violence. For more information, please visit

PI: Lindsay Stark
PI: Massy Mutumba
PI: Fred Ssewamala

Entrepreneurship School with Gender Lens (ESGL) Intervention

As of August 2021, Colombia hosts the vast majority of Venezuelan refugees and migrants (UNHCR, 2022). For vulnerable refugees and migrants in Colombia, and especially for women, gender-based violence (GBV) is present during transit and continues in their new homes where xenophobia, lack of accessible and adequate services, lack of safe economic opportunities, and lack of information on access to services, further increase risk. Lack of livelihood opportunities also affect vulnerable refugees and migrants, especially women, with barriers to employment including lack of information; precarious working conditions with lower payments and longer working days with increasing risks of labor exploitation; xenophobia and discrimination; limited access to formal labor markets; lack of access to financial services, among others. To address these issues, Washington University is partnering with Los Andes University and HIAS to conduct a randomized-controlled trial (RCT) of the Entrepreneurship School with Gender Lens (ESGL), a methodology that targets GBV survivors and women at-risk to help them develop business ideas, access needed support for the prevention of and response to GBV, exploitation and trafficking, and improve participants’ overall self-reliance. The RCT will be conducted within four cities in Colombia; approximately 80 eligible participants will be enrolled in each city and randomized to a treatment or control arm in a 2:1 ratio. Survey questionnaires will be administered to participants at baseline, eight months following baseline (endline), and 3-4 months after endline. Outcomes of interest include household self-reliance, mental health, empowerment, decision-making, and GBV risk and knowledge.

PI: Lindsay Stark
PI: Ilana Seff

Participatory Action Research with Women’s Collectives

Despite calls to center women- and girl-led responses, the humanitarian community often overlooks or minimizes how women-led initiatives create meaningful and sustained changes in their communities through their collective action. This research in collaboration with UNICEF will establish the state of evidence and current gaps in understanding the impacts and programmatic mechanisms of women’s collectives in humanitarian settings. We will follow a systematic approach to not only reach consensus around the priority evidence gaps, but also in close partnership with women’s collectives themselves, to establish the programmatic action-research priorities that would channel resources and capacity to women’s collectives and concurrently build the evidence. This combination – often referred to as action research – could deliver results and mobilize the broader humanitarian community to support the evidence-based practices that empower women and girls. The agenda will not only channel resources to women’s collectives – thus building capacity and promoting their solutions – but also addressing priority evidence gaps, thereby ensuring the subsequent investments in localized responses grounded in the best practices and mobilizing a wider set of actors to fund women’s collectives.

PI: Lindsay Stark
PI: Ilana Seff

Virtual Safe Spaces

UNICEF and Washington University in St. Louis will be conducting a research design and implementation examination of Virtual Safe Spaces. Robust studies of virtual women and girl safe spaces (VSS) are needed to assess the program’s effectiveness in improving outcomes for women and girls and to understand how to best implement the program in humanitarian and low-resource settings. This formative work will also build from the established ToR and Logic model, by examining whether Laaha’s content is understood and the right fit for target audiences in at least one site.

PI: Lindsay Stark
PI: Ilana Seff

Sibling-Support for Adolescent Girls (SSAGE) Intervention

This NIH R34 grant, in partnership with the Women’s Refugee Commission and Mercy Corps, involves implementation science research around a sibling-centered intervention for families in humanitarian settings. This study will assess an innovative whole-family and gender transformative intervention—Sibling Support for Adolescent Girls in Emergencies (SSAGE)—to prevent mental health disorders among adolescent girls in Colombia who were recently and forcibly displaced from Venezuela. The study will employ a hybrid type 1 effectiveness-implementation pilot randomized control trial (RCT) to test the program’s effectiveness and mechanistic pathways as well as to explore determinants of implementation in order to establish the feasibility, acceptability, and fidelity of SSAGE. To address these aims, we will enroll 180 recently arrived, forcibly displaced adolescent girls in an RCT and examine the program’s effectiveness on the prevention of mental illness (through reduction in anxiety, depression, interpersonal sensitivity, and somatization symptoms) one-month post-intervention. We will use contextually adapted and piloted measures to collect additional data on the hypothesized mechanistic pathways, including family attachment, gender equitable family functioning, self-esteem, and coping strategies. The implementation evaluation will employ mixed methods to assess the program’s feasibility, acceptability, fidelity and barriers and facilitators to successful implementation.

MPI: Lindsay Stark
MPI: Ilana Seff

Exploring the Intersection of Public Health Emergencies and Gender-Based Violence

This project, in partnership with UNICEF, addresses the intersection of public health emergencies (PHE) and gender-based violence in emergencies (GBViE). The research team will be conducting a scoping review documenting efforts to date to build the evidence based around the intersection of GBViE and PHE, examining published and grey literature and uncovering the internal processes that have progressed this work. The scoping review will help inform a small meeting of experts for a research agenda setting process. This in-person meeting would bring together experts to present and share current efforts. The research team aims to to examine (1) what has been done programmatically, (2) what the research gaps are, (3) next steps in building a research and learning agenda, and (4) identifying potential data needs and methodological approaches to move the research agenda forward.

PI: Lindsay Stark
PI: Ilana Seff

Implementation of Cognitive Processing Therapy in Rape Crisis Centers

This project will use a randomized controlled trial to assess feasibility and effectiveness of a learning-collaborative as an implementation strategy to advance use of CPT for treating PTSD in 15 Texas Rape Crisis Centers. For more information, please click here.

SAGE Project

Social Workers Advancing through Grounded Education (SAGE): Building Capacity for Mental and Behavioral Health in Indian Country

The SAGE project recruits, trains, and financially supports Native and non-Native students as they complete 360 hours of their concentration practica. For more information, please click here.

Child Maltreatment Postdoctoral Training Institute 

This five-year intensive summer research institute is designed to prepare a new cadre of skilled investigators dedicated to engaging in child abuse and neglect research. To learn more, click here.

Relationship and Sexual Violence-Assessment Initiative

In 2016, Washington University in St. Louis announced stepping up its efforts to stop sexual assault — expanding both prevention programs and crisis services and launching a new research initiative to develop and test solutions. For more information, please click here.