Faculty and Staff

Bethany Backes is an Assistant Professor in the Violence Against Women Faculty Cluster Initiative at the University of Central Florida and holds a joint appointment in the Department of Criminal Justice and School of Social Work. Her areas of scholarship broadly encompass research and evaluation on violence against women (VAW) and crime victimization including formal and informal help-seeking trajectories, secondary and tertiary violence prevention strategies, and criminal justice and community-based interventions related to interpersonal violence. Backes spent a decade directing research and evaluation on VAW and violent victimization at the National Institute of Justice/U.S. Department of Justice. Her oversight of NIJ’s Violence Against Women Program of Research led to the development of major initiatives and rigorous study on sexual assault forensics and case attrition, domestic violence homicide, and criminal justice and community-based responses to violence against women. She developed and instituted a researcher-practitioner program to support junior and senior researchers in establishing on-the-ground collaborations to tackle prominent criminal justice issues at the local level. Prior to NIJ, Backes spent several years in the direct services, research, and health education fields primarily focused on victimization and injury prevention. Her overarching goal is to develop and adapt measures, methods, and interventions to enhance victim engagement and autonomy at the systems level (health, community-based, and criminal justice).

  • Ph.D., Doctor of Philosophy, Social Work, University of Maryland Baltimore
  • MSW, Master of Social Work, Social Policy and Evaluation, University of Michigan
  • MPH, Master of Public Health, Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan
  • American Society of Criminology
  • Society for Social Work and Research
Areas of Specialty
  • Violence Against Women
  • Multidisciplinary responses to victims
  • Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence
  • Stalking
  • Sexual Violence
  • Victim Help-Seeking
  • Program evaluation
Research Grants
Social Work

Care on Campus (CoC): Screening for Intimate Partner Violence within Student Healthcare Settings

  • PI: Bethany Backes
  • Amount: $30,000 | Timeframe: 11/01/2021 - 07/31/2022
    Funding Type: Internal
    Funding Agency: Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundation
  • UCF Survivor Link Training Program Inaugural Meeting
    Written By: Connor Terzino | November 5, 2022
    The UCF Survivor Link Training Program, which aims to train students in cases of domestic violence, held its first-ever meeting with its social work master’s students Wednesday night.
  • UCF Podcast: Championing Against Violence
    Written By: Nicole Dudenhoefer ’17 | October 24, 2022
    Season three of Knights Do That, UCF’s official podcast, returns with its sixth guest, Bethany Backes, an assistant professor in the Violence Against Women faculty cluster and holds a joint appointment...
  • Survivor Link National Training Program Launches at UCF
    Written By: Alexandra Angeloff | May 24, 2022
    In hopes of equipping students to better understand and assist families facing domestic violence, UCF has joined the network of universities administering Survivor Link. The program will support nine students...
  • Genius Foundation Awards $300,000 To UCF Interdisciplinary Health Research
    Written By: WENDY SARUBBI | October 7, 2021
    Eight interdisciplinary faculty research projects — on health topics including pain management, improving provider-patient communication, and intimate partner violence — have received about $300,000 in grant funding through a new...
  • Listen In: Abuse Hurts At Every Age. UCF’s Bethany Backes Talks Domestic Violence In 50 Plus Women During The Pandemic
    Written By: NPR - Danielle Prieur (WMFE) | October 5, 2021
    A new study out of UCF paints a picture of the abuse women 50 and up have faced over the past year. More than 40 percent of the women surveyed in...
  • New UCF Co-led Study Will Focus on Keeping Intimate Partner Violence Survivors Safe
    Written By: Robert Wells | September 21, 2021
    The researchers will create evidence-based, intimate partner violence pretrial safety assessment guides for judges to use when considering pretrial release in intimate partner violence cases. A University of Central Florida...
  • UCF Professor Helps Elevate the Discussion and Inform Policy About Violence Against Women
    Written By: ALEXANDRA SHIMALLA | March 15, 2021
    Bethany Backes, assistant professor of criminal justice and social work, reflects on her path to academia for Women’s History Month. When Bethany Backes isn’t testing new recipes in the kitchen...
  • Pandemic created domestic violence ‘perfect storm’ as U.S. saw 8% spike, UCF researcher says
    Written By: Orlando Sentinel | March 8, 2021
    A new study shows domestic violence incidents spiked more than 8% nationwide in 2020 following lockdown orders intended to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic — an increase also...
  • UCF Study Will Look at Transitional Housing Effectiveness for Survivors of Domestic Violence
    Written By: D’Ann Rawlinson ’15EdD | October 19, 2020
    Housing programs can serve as a lifeline for domestic violence survivors and their children – providing them with vital resources to leave abusive relationships and find safety. Various housing models...
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