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Research Center on Violence Launches the First Ever West Virginia Quality of Life Survey

The Research Center on Violence at West Virginia University has collaborated with the Criminal Justice Statistical Analysis Center (CJSAC) within the Office of Research and Strategic Planning at the Division of Justice and Community Services to launch West Virginia’s first victimization study.

The three-year study - funded by a $448,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice - came as the result of emerging evidence that sexual assaults, domestic violence and other crimes go unreported in West Virginia on account of its rural cultural, limited service options, high percentage of citizens with disabilities and an elderly population that surpasses the national average.

“The Research Center on Violence at WVU is very excited about contributing to the development of a much needed survey data base and to using the findings to help enhance West Virginia residents’ health and well-being,” said Walter DeKeseredy, Center director and professor of sociology at WVU.

The study surveys West Virginian citizens age 18 and over about their experiences with crime, willingness to seek help from law enforcement, perceptions of the criminal justice system, community safety and knowledge of victim services and local crime policy, among other topics.

“This is an exciting opportunity to pursue research that promises to improve public safety in West Virginia,” said Rick Staton, director of the West Virginia Division of Justice and Community Services. “Among other benefits, this data will complement existing crime data reported by law enforcement through the Uniform Crime Reporting program.”

Figures from the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Foundation for Rape Information and Services (FRIS) demonstrate that many victims aided by these programs never report to law enforcement.

Dr. DeKeseredy helped develop the survey methodology and oversee the project’s WVUteam. Those researchers include Dr. James Nolan, associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Dr. Ronald Althouse, professor emeritus of sociology and Dr. Amanda Hall-Sanchez, teaching assistant professor of sociology.