Psychology Professor Takes the Lead in Addressing Domestic Violence in Latin@ Communities
Recently named director of research and evaluation for Casa de Esperanza’s National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities, Lillianne Macias, Ph.D., is bringing her work to the University of New Haven and enabling her students to be a part of research that can make an impact at the national level.
October 27, 2020
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
When Lillianne Macias, Ph.D., was a pursuing her doctorate in clinical and community psychology, she began to focus on domestic violence, something she has continued to research over the past decade. She is passionate about addressing gender-based violence, and sharing her work with her students – something she looks forward to continuing in her newest role.
Dr. Macias was recently been named director of research and evaluation for Casa de Esperanza’s National Latin@ Network (NLN) for Healthy Families and Communities, a leading institute on preventing domestic violence in Latin@ communities. The organization uses “@” as a way to refer to people who are either gender neutral or both masculine and feminine as a way to reflect commitment to gender inclusion.
In her new role, she will collaborate on research that aims to enhance Latin@ communities and organizations, while working as part of a multidisciplinary team to help address the many disparities, including health, education, and economic, facing Latin@ and other marginalized communities in the United States.
“It is a privilege to have the opportunity to work with an amazing team of researchers and students at the leading Latin@ gender-based violence organization in the country,” said Dr. Macias, an assistant professor of psychology at the University who earned her doctorate from Georgia State University. “The partnership between the University of New Haven and Casa de Esperanza’s National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities will support the next generation of culturally competent advocates, allies, and researchers working to eliminate gender-based violence.”
‘We want to uplift Latin@ voices’
The partnership between the University and the NLN will enable students to participate in research at the local and national levels through programs and applied research. They will work directly with advocates and community members to develop and inform gender-based violence practice and policy.
Dr. Macias says there is a need for more culturally competent researchers and practitioners nationwide, and she hopes this will offer opportunities for a diverse group of students to get involved.
“It is wonderful that students at the University, regardless of their own cultural background, will gain competencies for working with Latin@ communities,” she said. “This is true for students who identify as Latin@ themselves, because these communities are quite diverse. We want to uplift Latin@ voices in multiple ways, including by engaging students from other programs outside of psychology.”
‘We can make more movement to change systems’
Dr. Macias’s mentor in grad school was a longstanding leader and advocate in addressing domestic violence, as well as a previous NLN director of research and evaluation. Dr. Macias looks forward to continuing her legacy while serving as a mentor to her own students.
In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15) and Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October), the NLN hosted a series of virtual events, and she worked to raise awareness among her students. She says that the safety of domestic violence survivors and families is complicated by factors such as social isolation, discrimination, and economic stress, and she hopes she and her students can make a meaningful difference.
“We are experiencing unprecedented challenges in the fields of Latin@ health and gender-based violence,” she said. “However, we are also seeing numerous examples of the way Latin@ communities and organizations adapt and come together to meet these challenges.
“We have the privilege and opportunity to listen to them and translate their wisdom into tools and practices that support wellbeing,” she continued. “I believe strongly that together we can make more movement to change systems that perpetuate disparities in access to support and outcomes of gender-based violence.”