Asking to Understand
Assessing Needs to Understand Social Conditions
Sabri, B., Nnawulezi, N., Nije-Carr, V.S., Messing, J., Ward-LAsher, A., Alvarez, C., & Campbell, J.C. (2018). Multilevel risk and protective factors for intimate partner violence among immigrant and refugee women: Perceived needs for safety planning. Race and social problems, 10(4), 348-365.
Finding Out What Works
Identifying Empowering Conditions in Organizations and Across Systems
Nnawulezi, N., & Dones, M. (2021). Housing strategies for addressing domestic violence and abuse. In J. Devaney, C. Bradbury-Jones, S. Holt, C. Øverlien, R. Macy (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Domestic Violence and ABuse. Routledge.
Nnawulezi, N., Godsay, S., Sullivan, C.M., Marcus, S., & Hacskaylo, M. (2018). The influence of low-barrier and voluntary service policies on survivor empowerment in a domestic violence organization. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 88(6), 670-680.
Naming the Barriers
Understanding Impediments to Gaining Power
Lippy, C., Jumarali, S., Nnawulezi, N., & Burk, C. (2020). The Impact of mandatory reporting policies on survivors of intimate partner violence. Intersectionality, help-seeking and the need for change. Journal of Family Violence, 35(3), 225-267.
Nnawulezi, N., Godsay, S., & Bryant, L. (2020). Microaggressions in human service settings. In L. Nenuto, M. Duckworth, A. Masuda, &W. O'Donohue (Eds.), Prejudice, Stigma, Privilege and Oppression: A Behavioral Health Handbook. New York, NY: Springer Nature
Gregory, K., Nnawulezi, N., & Sullivan, C.M (2017). Understanding how domestic violence shelter rules may influence survivor empowerment. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Advanced online publication.
Alternative Community-Based Responses for Survivors
Offering Future Directions in Advocacy
Transformative Research Methods
Utilizing innovative research methods to create safe, healthy, and thriving communities
What it Means
Nnawulezi, N., Lippy, C., Serrata, J., & Rodriguez, R. (2018). Doing equitable work in inequitable conditions: A special issue on transformative research methods in the genre-based violence field. Journal of Family Violence, 33(8), 507-513.
Reed, S., Miller, R., Nnawulezi, N., & Valenti, M. (2012). Erecting closets and outing ourselves: Uncomfortable reflexivity and the messiness of community-based research. Journal of Community Psychology, 40(1), 11-26.
How to Do it
Nnawulezi, N., & Sullivan, C.M., Marcus, S., Young, L., & Hacskaylo, M. (2019). Negotiating participatory research processes with domestic violence program staff to obtain ecologically valid data. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 34(23-24), 4817-4387.
Goodman, L., Thomas, K., Nnawulezi, N., Lippy, C., Serrata, J., Ghanbarpour, S., ...Bair-Merritt, M. (2018). Bringing community based participatory research to domestic violence scholarship: An online toolkit. Journal of Family Violence, 33(2), 103-107.
Goodman, L.A., Thomas, K.A., Serrata, J.V., Lippy, C., Nnawulezi, N., Ghanbarpour, S...Bair-Merritt, M.H. (2017). Power Through Partnerships: A CBPR Toolkit for Domestic Violence Researchers. Harrisburg, PA: National Resource Center on Domestic Violence.
Adams, A.E., Nnawulezi, N., & Vandenberg, L. (2015). "Expectations to Change" (E2C): A participatory method for facilitating stakeholder engagement with evaluation findings. American Journal of Evaluation, 36(2), 243-255.
Nnawulezi, N., Rivera, E., & Gregory. K. (2012). Bridging facilitation and community psychology: Promoting meaningful community collaboration through facilitation. The Community Psychologist, 45(3), 30-31. (peer-reviewed article in society newsletter)
Kubiak, S., Sullivan, C.M., Fries, L., Nnawulezi, N., & Feddock, G. (2011). Best Practice Toolkit for Working with Domestic Violence Survivors with Criminal Histories. Okemos, MI: Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.
RELA: Research for Empowering and Liberatory Action
RELA is a community-based research group guided by principles of empowerment, transformative justice, and liberation. Their research focuses on developing evidence that will contribute to interpersonal, community, and systems-level change with an intentional aim to eradicate intimate partner and structural violence in all of its forms. They do this by implementing survivor-centered, trauma-informed approaches to:
1) partner with survivors to take action;
2) increase survivors' access to resources;
3) improve survivors' housing conditions; and
4) increase interpersonal and community supports within marginalized communities.
The RELA Team
Nkiru Nnawulezi, PhD
Dr. Nnawulezi (she/her) is deeply committed to improving the social and material conditions for survivors of gender-based violence who experience structural marginalization and stigmatization, specifically survivors of color, survivors living with HIV, queer and trans* survivors, low-income survivors, survivors who are unhoused, survivors with addictions, and survivors with severe mental health conditions.
Selima is a queer, Indo-Caribbean, Muslim femme of color deeply invested in the mental health, healing, and well-being of queer and trans people of color (QTPOC). She is currently a PhD student in the Clinical-Community Psychology program at UMBC. She previously earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Biology from the University of Miami and her Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs from NYU. Selima aspires to conduct community-based participatory research with QTPOC to address structural barriers
that hinder their access to mental health care and to shift oppressive systems that create poor mental health outcomes in the first place. As a clinician, Selima approaches therapy as a space for making sense of and coping with an oppressive world while seeking healing and liberation. She is an Aries and ESFJ who loves poetry slams and furthering radical, revolutionary love.
Jasmine (she/her/hers) is a is currently a Ph.D. student in the Eco-Community Psychology program at Michigan State University. She received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Her work as a graduate student focuses on domestic violence survivors' experience with housing instability as well as sexual assault survivor experience with CJ system. Her hopes as a community psychologist are to contribute to academic and social conversations around pushing the gender-based violence movement beyond criminal justice reform into community approach and ownership of what it means to be a survivor at different social locations and elimination of gender-based violence. Born in El Paso, Texas, Jasmine is currently living in East Lansing, MI where she lives with her partner, Michael Hill and her lovable dog, Dario.
Samantha is a current student at the University of Maryland Baltimore pursuing a Masters Degree in Social Work. She is currently on a clinical-macro track and plans to go into counseling once obtaining her license. Samantha graduated from University of Maryland Baltimore County with a Bachelors Degree in Psychology in December 2018. Samantha has been part of RELA since Fall of 2017, and has participated in the Survivor Needs Assessment Project as well as various research tasks.
Upon graduating from Howard High School in Ellicott City, Maryland, Keenan attended Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland as a James W. Rouse Scholar majoring in Social Science. In the two years (2017-2019) spent at HCC, Keenan was named the 2018-2019 Social Sciences Division Student of the year. In May 2019, Keenan graduated from Howard Community College with an Associate Degree in Social Science as a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society with Cum Laude honors. Keenan is now a senior Psychology & Sociology double major and a Presidential Transfer Scholar upon graduating from Howard Community College. As a male advocate, he is particularly interested in working with RELA in order to learn and inform others of the social injustices of Intimate Partner Violence as well as how Abuse Intervention Programs impact relationship dynamics.
Idania Ramos is a first-generation college graduate from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Where she earned her Bachelor's degree in psychology with a specialization in developmental psychology. She was a part of UMBC's relationship violence prevention advocates program and she has been a part of RELA since January 2020. Idania is now attending Towson’s Master’s in psychology counseling and conducting research within the Latinx and undocumented communities. She has a passion for mental health advocacy and survivor based practices.
Rahel Negasi (she/her/hers) is an undergraduate student, attending the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She is working towards attaining her Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology with a concentration in Biopsychology. Rahel identifies as an Ethiopian, Eritrean- American woman, whose passions align with mental health education and providing underprivileged groups access to resources. She has a specific focus in understanding contexts in which harm and violence are rooted in, along with ways to support and empower oppressed groups. Rahel is currently working with RELA, as a research assistant, aiding with ongoing research projects. She also works with a non-profit organization called, So What Else, whose
mission includes food security, and providing positive, enriching out-of-school programs for kids, ages five through eighteen. She was born in Silver Spring, Maryland and continues to reside there with her family.
Disseminating Our Research
2019 Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues Conference
2020 International Conference of Community Psychology