Nicole M. Overstreet

In Funded Scholars
Nicole M. Overstreet
Nicole M. Overstreet




Assistant Professor
Clark University 

Professional Bio

Nicole M. Overstreet is currently an assistant professor of psychology at Clark University. Overstreet earned her B.A. in psychology from Smith College and PhD in social psychology from the University of Connecticut. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (CIRA). 

Project Description 

People who experience intimate partner violence (IPV) face a number of challenges, including cost of medical services and psychological distress, in accessing services that are crucial to stabilizing health. However, much of this research has been conducted among IPV-affected women with little attention to systematic differences in unmet service needs by geographic and demographic factors. Further, research has yet to systematically examine unmet service needs in a variety of domains that affect health (e.g., housing). Unmet service needs may delay or stop the process of leaving an abusive partner and compromise people’s ability to cope with the health consequences of IPV.

The proposed research addresses this issue by examining geographic, demographic, and sociocultural factors that prevent access to health service priorities among people who experience IPV. Specifically, this study:

1) examines service priorities and unmet service needs for 5 types of services (i.e., medical services, housing services, community services, legal services, and victim’s advocate services) in a national dataset of people experiencing IPV;

2) examines geographic and demographic disparities in unmet service needs;

3) examines whether there is an association between unmet service needs and poor health outcomes among people experiencing IPV; and

4) -qualitatively identifies sociocultural factors that prevent access to service needs, such as IPV-related stigma, and strategies to effectively reduce these unmet service needs.

My New Connections Experience

IPV is a serious public health concern that affects approximately one in three women and one in four men in their lifetime. This violence can be physical, sexual, or psychological and is associated with poor mental and physical health.

I applied to New Connections for the invaluable opportunity to connect with scholars who are committed to improving the health of individuals and communities, particularly those who are affected by violence. Further, I believe that New Connections will help to achieve the goal of providing better health care and service access for those who experience intimate partner violence.

New Connections will enhance my career trajectory by providing strong mentorship and the necessary training to conduct research that aims to improve the health and health care of those who experience intimate partner violence. It is my hope that this work provides the groundwork to develop interventions that reduce the negative effect of stigma on healthcare and overall well-being.

Research Interests 

My program of research examines sociocultural factors that contribute to mental and sexual health disparities in marginalized groups, with a particular focus on intersections between gender, race, and power. In my first line of research, I use survey-based field methods and multi-level analysis to examine the consequences of intimate partner violence-related stigmatization on health from a multi-level perspective (i.e., personal, interpersonal, structural level). My work shows that intimate partner related-stigma is associated with psychological distress, non-disclosure of partner violence to potential support networks, and poorer sexual health.

In another line of research, I use experimental methods to focus on the sexual and mental health consequences of sexual objectification or being viewed as a body that exists for the pleasure and use of others. This line of research is closely connected to my work on IPV and health because it considers how vulnerability to sexual risk and poorer mental health is potentially influenced by sociocultural factors that contribute to devaluation and disempowerment. I am particularly interested in how race compounds the effect of sexual objectification on health outcomes and the connection between objectification and violence against women of color.

Collectively, my research has implications for designing and implementing interventions that are tailored and sensitive to the social context of marginalized groups, and has the potential to reduce and ultimately help eliminate disparities in mental and sexual health.

The Details
  • New Connections Status: Junior Investigator
  • Award Year: 2015
  • RWJF Team/Portfolio: Healthy Communities 
  • Project Name: Service priorities and unmet service needs among people experiencing intimate partner violence: A mixed-methods approach to understanding disparities.

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