Victoria L. Banyard

Outstanding Faculty Award — Associate Professor

Associate Professor of Psychology
College of Liberal Arts

An active bystander


Victoria Banyard

With three children four years old and under, Vicki Banyard and her husband, Dave Howland, have their hands full. When she’s not in the classroom or working with colleagues on the latest manuscript or research project, Banyard is busy with her children. At work and at home she uses the skills that have brought her success at UNH: teamwork and collaboration. Howland, a full-time doctoral student in natural resources, takes the lead in the childcare and cooking departments, Banyard does the laundry and cleans the house. She supports him through grad school, he supported her through clinical training. No surprise, Banyard participated recently on a University panel about balancing work and family.

In fact, balance is her mantra. She knows that it makes her a better teacher, researcher, mentor, mother, and member of the community.

Initially Banyard’s work in psychology focused on clinical work with children, families, and adults who had been exposed to traumatic stress. She studied the resilience of trauma survivors, especially children, and the role that community played in their recovery. Violence against women was also integral to her research. Her strong interest in this field developed when she earned a certificate in women’s studies at the University of Michigan along with her Ph.D.

In 1994, UNH’s renowned Family Research Laboratory attracted Banyard to Durham for postdoctoral research. While she has kept up her clinical work, including a postdoctoral fellowship at the Trauma Center in Brookline, Mass., she says it was extremely hard to work as a full-time clinician with children, families, and adults exposed to traumatic stress. And she wanted to teach.

As it turns out, the town of Durham has also been a plus. Having grown up in New Jersey, Banyard adores the ease with which she can walk to work and into town, and the real sense of community in Durham. When she pushes the double stroller with her youngest on her back into town, her students readily recognize her, wave, and stop to talk.

Recently a collaborative research project was groundbreaking: it showed that educating bystanders, who may be witnesses to interpersonal violence or friends of survivors, helps reduce the problem of sexual violence. Banyard and two UNH colleagues, thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, evaluated rape prevention programs that educate men and women as potential bystanders, as opposed to perpetrators and victims.

“Sexual violence is about norms and behaviors,” Banyard explains. “Everyone in the community has a role to play. Violence against women is still a major problem and we need to continually develop ways to get better at intervention and prevention.”

This project brought together all of Banyard’s interests, including enlisting the help of several students as research assistants, who also launched their own research projects. “I love to see how students digest information and engage in processing concepts, theories, and the practical application of their work,” says Banyard. “Teaching allows me to stay in school. I continue to learn every day with my students.”

Banyard, who comes from a family of doctors, nurses, judges, and teachers, grew up with a strong sense of wanting to help others and make a difference in the community. In addition to her teaching and research, she also serves on the advisory board for UNH’s Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program and the Public Education Committee of the N.H. Governor’s Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence.

Interdisciplinary collaborations are important to Banyard. She’s excited about her work with the UNH Police Department examining violence against women on college campuses, working with sociologist Mil Duncan and the Carsey Institute, pursuing more research around levels of community change beyond the individual, and, of course, teaching. She and her husband would also love to do a sabbatical in Korea, the birth home of their two oldest children.

The constant themes that run through Banyard’s work are community and education. She affirms: “I truly believe in the foundation of a liberal education, because it provides individuals with the tools to become more engaged with their community.”

—Jennifer Murray