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January 18 , 2009

The Web of Violence

Exploring Connections Among Different Forms of Interpersonal Violence and Abuse


There is an increasing appreciation of the interconnections among all forms of violence. These interconnections have critical implications for conducting research that can produce valid conclusions about the causes and consequences of abuse, maltreatment, and trauma. The accumulated data on co-occurrence also provide strong evidence that prevention and intervention should be organized around the full context of individuals’ experiences, not narrowly defined subtypes of violence. Managing the flood of new research and practice innovations is a challenge, however. New means of communication and integration are needed to meet this challenge, and the Web of Violence is intended to contribute to this process by serving as a concise overview of the conceptual and empirical work that form a basis for understanding the interconnections across forms of violence throughout the lifespan. It also offers ideas and directions for prevention, intervention, and public policy.

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A number of initiatives are emerging to integrate the findings on co-occurrence into research and action. The American Psychological Association established a new journal, Psychology of Violence, which is a forum for research on all types of violence. Sherry Hamby is the founding editor and John Grych is associate editor and co-editor of a special issue on the co-occurrence of violence in 2012. Dr. Hamby also is a co-investigator of the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV), which has drawn attention to polyvictimization. Polyvictimization is a focus of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Defending Childhood Initiative and has recently been featured in calls for grant proposals by the Office of Victims of Crime and National Institutes for Justice.

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