laura-voith-web-res

Laura A. Voith, MSW, PhD

Assistant Professor


PhD, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

MSW, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

BA, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences

Room 216
Case Western Reserve University
11235 Bellflower Road
Cleveland, Ohio 44106

lav41@case.edu

216.368.5820

@lavoith

Google Scholar Page

About

Stemming from her macro and direct practice work with domestic violence and sexual assault services, Dr. Voith focuses on violence prevention and intervention, particularly violence against women and children, and implementation science on the delivery of violence prevention programs. Her research on social inequalities contributing to the risk of violence exposure, subsequent health disparities resulting from violence exposure, and the prevention of such violence is carried out through two lines of research. (1) Dr. Voith examines the effects of individual- and neighborhood-level cumulative risk and protective factors on the relation between violence exposure and risky outcomes with children and adolescents. (2) Dr. Voith examines how men’s exposure to trauma, violence, and adversities contribute to violent perpetration and victimization, and how individual factors, such as men’s social networks, interact with neighborhood-level characteristics to enhance or diminish the risk of men’s use of violence in intimate relationships.  These two lines of research will inform the development and evaluation of violence prevention programs with at-risk children and adolescents, and the improvement of batterer intervention programming with men.

 

Course List:

Master’s Courses

  • SASS 441: Human Development II: Adults
  • SASS 478: Macro and Policy Practice Skills

 

Doctoral Student Mentoring:

Dr. Voith is committed to the development of the Mandel School’s doctoral and masters-level students. Her mentoring philosophy is grounded in the basic tenet that through scaffolded, collaborative, and experiential learning opportunities, students will develop the requisite skills to launch their careers as independent scholars. Working with Dr. Voith, students will have the opportunities to learn the processes of grant writing and manuscript development, co-author manuscripts, and present at national conferences. She also welcomes the opportunity for doctoral students to complete a teaching mentorship in one of her current courses.

 

Scholarly Interests:

  • Intimate partner violence
  • Boys and men’s mental health and wellbeing
  • Adverse childhood experiences
  • Violence prevention and intervention

 

Affiliations:

  • American Public Health Association (APHA)
  • Council for Social Work Education (CSWE)
  • Society for Social Work Research (SSWR)
  • The Institute for Child and Family Wellbeing (ICFW)

 

In the News


Voith Publishes New Study of Intimate Partner Violence Among College-Aged Men

Jul 21 2017

The majority of college-aged male aggressors of physical, sexual and emotional violence also reported being victims of violence themselves, both in childhood and as young adults

According to new Mandel School research, 60 percent of college-aged men reported being both victims and perpetrators of violence with an intimate partner in the year before their participation in the study.

“Men violent with their intimate partners were very likely victims of violence in childhood who developed trauma and poor coping behaviors as a result,” said Laura A. Voith, PhD, the study’s lead author and assistant professor at the Mandel School at Case Western Reserve.

“Yet,” she said, “the majority of these perpetrators also continue to be victims of violence themselves.”

The findings highlight the need for behavioral programs for violent males that focus on unresolved trauma from their experience as abuse victims, Voith said. However, most treatments for perpetrators are punitive and don’t tend to address the childhood roots of violent behavior.

Intimate partner violence—between people currently or formerly in a relationship or close friendship—is highest among 18- to 25-year-olds, previous research has shown.

The study, “Extending the ACEs Framework: Examining the Relations Between Childhood Abuse and Later Victimization and Perpetration With College Men,” was published online in May in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.  In it, 423 male students at a large Midwestern university (not Case Western Reserve) completed extensive questionnaires in 2012-13; their responses were anonymous to protect their privacy.

Among the findings:

  • 68 percent reported childhood emotional abuse, 38.5 percent childhood physical abuse and 7.3 percent childhood sexual abuse;
  • 9 percent of men reported perpetrating physical violence, 46.5 percent sexual violence and 62.4 percent psychological aggression against an intimate partner in the year preceding their study participation;
  • During the same period, 27.4 percent of men reported physical victimization, 52.2 percent sexual victimization and 58.2 percent psychological victimization by an intimate partner.

Early life experiences have an enduring impact on health. Previous studies show strong relationships between adult health conditions—anxiety, panic and psychiatric disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, substance misuse and others—and adversities experienced in childhood, such as abuse, witnessing violence, parental incarceration and others.

“Behaviors created to survive violence or turmoil in childhood leave adults primed to detect more threat in their environments and less likely to master skills needed to feel safe and control their emotions,” Voith said. “This trauma influences interpersonal relations, putting once-victims of violence at greater risk of both victimization and perpetration in their intimate relationships.”

Acknowledging—and treating—the trauma of violent perpetrators

Intimate partner abuse brought to the attention of law enforcement or health professionals—batterers rarely volunteer for treatment—often leads to support programs for victims and punitive approaches to perpetrators.

However, these programs to rehabilitate batterers are often ineffective: Men arrested for violence against intimate partners continue to batter at similar rates after being released from incarceration and/or completing treatment, according to a 2009 peer-reviewed study.

“It’s to the victims’ disservice if we don’t address trauma in batterers, because the cycle of violence is likely to only continue,” Voith said.

Yet, treating trauma in batterers remains an emerging discipline, Voith said, because the concept represents a fundamental shift in mindset that faces societal headwinds: helping violent men in way that does not condemn them.

A handful of approaches have proven effective for treating trauma in substance abusers, sex offenders and people incarcerated for a range of crimes. Among them: strength-based therapy, which seeks to build off successful behavior changes from a person’s past, and interview-based methods to improve a patient’s personal motivation by working goal-by-goal.

“Forming a positive alliance centered on trust, not on shame or blame, between patient and the professional leading the rehabilitation effort, has shown promise in helping trauma patients re-enter their lives more successfully once treatment ends,” Voith said.

Other key findings from the study:

  • 46 percent of men physically abused in childhood reported sexual victimization in the past year, compared with 29 percent without histories of physical abuse;
  • 55 percent sexually abused as children reported perpetrating physical violence, compared to 21 percent without a history of sexual abuse;
  • Of men emotionally abused as children, 27 percent reported perpetrating two or more types of violence, while 43.5 percent reported being victimized by two or more types of violence.

Co-authors of the paper were RaeAnn Anderson, a postdoctoral researcher in psychological sciences at Kent State University and Shawn Cahill, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.


Voith Publishes Study of Violent Victimization Among Disadvantaged Young Adults

Apr 28 2017

Laura A. Voith, PhD, Assistant Professor, was the lead author of “Violent Victimization Among Disadvantaged Young Adults Exposed to Early Family Conflict and Abuse: A 24-Year Prospective Study of the Victimization Cycle Across Gender,” a study published in the journal Violence and Victims that examined connections from family conflict exposure and physical abuse in childhood to violent crime victimization in adulthood, assessing also gender differences and neighborhood influences.

Results from logistic regression and hierarchical linear modeling with data from the Chicago Longitudinal Study, a panel of 1,539 low-income, ethnic/racial minority children unearthed a significant relation between family conflict exposure and later revictimization. Moderated by gender, these analyses showed girls exposed to frequent family conflict are particularly vulnerable to revictimization in adulthood. Exploratory analyses unveiled a potential linkage between childhood physical abuse and later revictimization for men. Neighborhood effects marginally influenced results in one instance. Public health implications are discussed.

Read the full article here.


Voith Publishes Exploratory Study on Empowering Traumatized Girls

Apr 28 2017

Laura A. Voith, PhD, Assistant Professor, was lead author of an exploratory study published in the Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma which used focus groups and participant-observation to examine areas of personal development, knowledge, and skills that former graduates, staff, and administrators of a Philippines-based independent living program believed essential for the success of young women with traumatic histories.

Thematic analysis revealed three themes: (1) Psycho-Emotional-Spiritual Well-Being, (2) Cultivating a Fighting Spirit, and (3) Financial Stability. Distinct from much of the literature, spiritual development — a mechanism of Psycho-Emotional-Spiritual Well-Being — and Cultivating a Fighting Spirit, a form of empowerment, emerged as important areas of development. The focal program emphasized personal development and restoration for the survival and success of young Filipina women in their agency.

Download the article here.