Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches and Lectures


The Survivor Therapy Empowerment Program for Gender Violence

Event Location / Date(s)

Prague, Czech Republic

Document Type


Presentation Date


Conference Name / Publication Title

XXXVth International Congress on Law and Mental Health


The Survivor Therapy Empowerment Program (STEP) is a 12 session, trauma-informed group psycho-educational program designed to decrease the anxiety symptoms and negative affect associated with trauma and gender-based violence. Given the high prevalence rates of trauma exposure in the U.S. population, as well as state mandates and national initiatives that community providers must utilize trauma-informed care, STEP fits a community need to decrease the impact of trauma symptoms in intimate partner violence and other gender-related traumas. Individuals with trauma histories (i.e., child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, accidents, etc.) often have problems with emotional regulation, aggression, social competence, and interpersonal relationships. Using a feminist therapy-informed lens, STEP promotes empowerment and self-understanding through skill building, cognitive restructuring, and an understanding of gender role socialization and other cultural stereotypes. Based on decades of research, STEP was originally designed to address the needs of female survivors of domestic violence (Walker, 1979, 1984, 2006, 2009). Since 2008, the program has been offered as a component of skill-building programs, substance abuse prevention, and domestic violence initiatives within jails, prisons, and detention centers for survivors of trauma. Current results indicate that the STEP program significantly reduces trauma-related symptoms with this forensic population.