As a teenager growing up in Massachusetts, Elizabeth Reed became very familiar with scenarios of dating and sexual violence against women and girls, as well as the damaging impact of these forms of gender-based violence. She soon recognized that it was not just occurring in the town where she grew up, but that various forms of sexual exploitation, violence, and harassment of girls and young women occur in high proportions across the U.S. and abroad. This exposure initiated her interest in the prevention of partner, dating, and sexual violence against women and girls in the U.S. and across the globe.
In college in Pennsylvania, she worked as a group counselor for teens at a local rape crisis center, and as a sexual and dating violence educator in local high schools.
“Through this work, the intersection between violence and risk for HIV/STI became very apparent to me,” Reed said. “Namely, girls often described scenarios in which abusive partners limited their control over decisions in sexual relationships, and in particular, restricting girls’ decisions to use contraception and condoms. This increased girls’ risk for STIs including HIV.”
Reed also recognized the role of substance use as a major consequence of violence and heightening women and girls’ risk for STI/HIV, and later became involved as a volunteer and advocate at a needle exchange program in New York City. At the needle exchange program, she worked with a multidisciplinary team of counselors, outreach workers, physicians, and researchers.
“This experience, for the first time, exposed me to the role of public health research in advocating for policy and programmatic change,” Reed explained.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.