The Intersection of Opioid Use and Violence Against Women


In the last two decades, the use of opioids, both prescription and non-prescription, has increased rapidly, leading to a public health crisis with a series of consequences and concerns for individuals, families, communities and formal care and criminal justice systems. The impact of the “opioid epidemic” has been explored in the criminal justice and public health context , but little research has been done to understand the intersection of the use of opioids and violence against women. While previous literature has addressed the co-occurrence of drug use and abuse and intimate partner and sexual violence, in particular from a self-medication perspective, current work has not explored the unique factors associated with the opioid epidemic and violence against women. For this project, we propose drafting a comprehensive literature review on the existing literature on violence against women and drug use and abuse from peer-reviewed journals, government reports and white papers. Following the review of literature, we will identify national experts, and invite them to a topical meeting to chart a course for future research on this topic. Through these efforts, we will aim to bridge the gap between burgeoning practice wisdom and evidence needed to improve system response to the opioid epidemic and violence against women.

Associated faculty

Meredith Dank

Dr. Meredith Dank, Principal Investigator

Meredith Dank is a Research Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Her areas of focus include the commercial sex economy, human trafficking, teen dating violence, LGBTQ issues, victimization, and qualitative methods. She served as principal investigator on several human trafficking studies funded by the Department of Justice, including a study that measured the underground commercial sex economy in the United States, and another that documented the experiences of LGBTQ youth, young men who have sex with men and young women who have sex with women engaged in survival sex and their interactions with the criminal justice system. An expert in human trafficking, Dr. Dank has conducted research in over ten countries and took part in a White House stakeholder meeting on services for survivors. Her work particularly in TDV, working with LGBTQ youth, and research methodologies for accessing difficult-to-reach populations will offer key expertise for the Consortium.

Leila Wood
Andrew Peterson

Leila Wood, PhD, LMSW, Co-Principal Investigator

Leila Wood is a Research Assistant Professor at the Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault (IDVSA) at The University of Texas at Austin Steve Hicks School of Social Work. Dr. Wood has three degrees (BSW, MSSW and PhD) in Social Work. Her scholarship areas are intimate and interpersonal violence in the campus context, intimate partner violence and sexual assault service evaluation, and occupational stress related to interpersonal violence work. Wood’s research focuses on survivor-centered approaches and establishing evidence for community and campus-based practices in the intimate partner violence (IPV) and sexual assault (SA) field, including housing programs. 

N. Andrew Peterson, PhD, Co-Principal Investigator

N. Andrew Peterson, Ph.D. is a Professor with the School of Social Work at Rutgers University. He earned his Ph.D. in Community Psychology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1998. His research examines the mechanisms through which community organizations promote empowerment and community change. His work also focuses on preventing community-level problems (e.g., tobacco outlet density, alcohol outlet density, density of vacant and abandoned housing, etc.) that contribute to social and health disparities. He currently serves as Principal Investigator of a study funded by the New Jersey Division of Mental Health & Addiction Services to evaluate the implementation of a new statewide prevention infrastructure that identifies communities based on epidemiological analyses and implements evidence-based and culturally-competent prevention strategies.