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

RF: Expanding Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Services to Victims of Sexual Assault

  • PI: Bethany Backes
  • Amount: $131,496 | Timeframe: 05/23/2022 - 09/30/2024
    Funding Type: Foundation/Industry
    Funding Agency: International Association of Forensic Nurses, Inc.
    Social Work

    FCI: Rutgers Violence Against Women Consortium / Patterns of Poly-Victimization Exposure Across Racial and Ethnic Populations in the U.S.: Findings from The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS)

  • PI: Bethany Backes
  • Amount: $54,667 | Timeframe: 01/01/2022 - 12/31/2022
    Funding Type: Extramural Research
    Funding Agency: Rutgers University
    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
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