Carol Jordan wants to know why some women are the victims of violence, and she wants the rest of us to help her find out.
Jordan, director of The Center for Research on Violence Against Women at the University of Kentucky, said that in the last 30 years, Kentucky has been busy building shelters for battered women, establishing rape crisis centers, and educating members of the judicial system and emergency room staff about dealing with evidence and victims of abuse.
Now, she said, it is time to not only pull drowning victims from the river onto the banks, but to look upstream to find out why they were in the water in the first place.
"We need to understand it all better so we know how we end it," she said. "We're not going to do that at the riverbank."
The answers lie in the form of university academics, she said, and research.
And that is what her center is all about. The center is a collaboration of advocates, faculty and researchers, victims and residents committed to finding the reasons behind violent acts and learning how those acts affect women and children mentally, physically and emotionally.
For instance, Jordan said, some children witness violence and grow up never to see it again. Other children experience violence again and again.
"Research is what you need to know how to serve women better, she said. "We in academia can help answer the questions."
To clarify what the Center for Research on Violence Against Women does, Jordan and Brent Seales, director of UK's Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments, produced a documentary featuring three women discussing how they survived being battered, stalked or raped. As their stories unfold, advocates and four researchers speak about their work.
The documentary, The Science of Violence against Women: The Stories of Women, will be broadcast several times this month on Kentucky Educational Television.
Sprinkled throughout the documentary are numbers that defy reason, including this one: More than half of the women in this country will experience some type of physical assault, Jordan said, and homicide is a leading cause of death for pregnant women.
"Those numbers are dramatic and tell the story of how women experience this every single day," she said. The documentary "will enlighten us as a community and empower us to say no more of that."
The center is in the process of endowing six chairs to research various aspects of violence, including how violence affects women's physical and mental health, and the ways that women of other cultures deal with intimate partner violence, she said.
"We know women of color have special issues," she said, and the center is endowing a chair for multicultural studies and naming it for Georgia Powers, the first African-American and first woman elected to the Kentucky Senate.
"We are really setting the bar high for what advocates, the community and academics can do when we come together," she said. "We will have the top center in the nation when we are through."
Watch one of the showings on KET to see what the center is all about and how Kentucky is working to find a better way to stop the violence.
If you recognize yourself in any of the women's stories or need help, call the Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program at 1-800-544-2022, or the Rape Crisis Center at 1-800-656-4673.