Research Program

The focus of my research is on women’s resistance to violence, and the ways in which gender is constructed around women’s resistance. The empirical data on women’s resistance to violence indicates that resistance, broadly defined, is an effective strategy in thwarting violence. However, cultural messages about women and violence tell us that women cannot and should not resist and that resistance will increase the likelihood of injury; at the same time, we often require evidence of physical resistance as one way to determine that an assault took place. Such conflicting information about women’s resistance to violence underscores the need for research in this area. I study the benefits of self defense training for women as well as individual, social and cultural responses to women’s successful use of resistance in thwarting sexual assault.

Activism

My scholarship on women’s and girls’ resistance to violence has a strong activist component. To date, I have brought Prepare, Inc.’s IMPACT self defense training, with the support of an endowment from former Drew president and NJ Governor Thomas H. Kean, to over 150 students, faculty, staff and alumnae at Drew University. I collaborate with the Center for Family Resources in Metuchen, NJ in investigating the impact of self defense training as a clinical intervention for survivors of trauma. In the summer of 2009, with the support of an Avon Hello Tomorrow grant, I will be bringing the IMPACT program to the Neighborhood House in Morristown, NJ, to 6th-9th graders in their summer camp program.

Current Project: The Women’s and Girls’ Resistance Project

In collaboration with Dr. Gianine Rosenblum, I am working on a book of true accounts of women’s and girls’ resistance to violence and harassment. While the data clearly documents the incidence and prevalence of violence against girls and women worldwide the data ALSO indicates that women and girls can and do fight back successfully in the face of assault and harassment. Unfortunately, in the media and the popular press, stories of successful resistance are hard to find. We want to change this, by sharing the true accounts of women and girls fighting back –– and winning.

Do you have a story?

If you have a story you’d like to tell and would like to participate in this study, or if you have any questions about the project, please contact me at jcermele@drew.edu.  Any identifying information you provide about yourself, the incident, and anyone involved in the incident will be changed when the accounts are published or shared to maintain the confidentiality of those involved or described.