Mission & History

Mission Statement

It is the goal of the Institute to be a national resource for trauma-informed services to improve safety, resilience, and well-being for individuals and families. IFVS activities include:

  • Building national-scale research based training projects and adding to the knowledge base on supervised visitation, first responders, co-parenting after divorce, trauma-informed care, and healthy relationships;
  • Promoting effective policy and legislative solutions for reducing family violence, supporting sexual and gender minorities, and advocating for healthy individuals and families;
  • Collaborating with state, national, and international organizations that support families to disseminate and expand our projects;
  • Mentoring students who work on our projects in a supportive environment and building their leadership skills that translate into success in the workplace;
  • Maintaining extensive online resources on all IFVS projects.


The Institute was established with a gift from Howell Ferguson in the mid-1990s. Since the establishment of the Institute until her retirement in early 2006, the Founding Director, Sharon Maxwell Ferguson, worked on developing lasting relationships with a number of state, federal and private entities.

Dr. Wendy Crook was appointed Director of the Institute for Family Violence Studies upon Dr. Maxwell’s retirement. Upon Dr. Crook’s retirement, Karen Oehme was appointed the Institute Director in 2007.