Bethany L. Backes, PhD, MSW, MPH

Bethany L. Backes, PhD, MSW, MPH

Research Associate

Bethany L. Backes, PhD, is a research associate at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work. Backes comes from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ)/U.S. Department of Justice, where she spent a decade directing research and evaluation on intimate partner violence, sexual violence, stalking, violent victimization, researcher-practitioner partnerships, and wrongful conviction. Her oversight of NIJ’s Violence Against Women Program of Research led to the development of major initiatives and rigorous study on sexual assault forensics and case attrition, domestic violence homicide, and criminal justice and community-based responses to violence against women. She developed and instituted a researcher-practitioner program to support junior and senior researchers in establishing on-the-ground collaborations to tackle prominent criminal justice issues at the local level. Prior to NIJ, Backes spent several years in the direct services, research, and health education fields primarily focused on victimization and injury.

Her areas of scholarship broadly encompass research and evaluation on violence against women including formal and informal help-seeking trajectories, secondary and tertiary violence prevention strategies, and criminal justice and community-based interventions related to intimate partner, sexual, and stalking victimization. Her overarching goal is to develop and adapt measures, methods, and interventions to enhance victim engagement and autonomy at the systems level (health, community-based, and criminal justice).

Professional Interests

Violence against women, violent victimization, multidisciplinary responses to victims, help-seeking, quantitative research methods, measurement and instrumentation, intervention research, administrative and large data sets


  • PhD, University of Maryland Baltimore
  • MSW, MPH, University of Michigan
  • BASW, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey



Social Work Building (SSW)


Mailing Address

The University of Texas at Austin
Steve Hicks School of Social Work
1925 San Jacinto Blvd 3.212EA
STOP D3510
Austin, TX 78712-0358