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Maecenas a quameu

The Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma (IVAT) strives to be a comprehensive resource, training and research center dealing with all aspects of violence, abuse and trauma.  IVAT interfaces with Alliant International University’s academic schools and centers, which provide resource support and educational training. Through a focus on collaborations with various partnering organizations, IVAT desires to bridge gaps and help improve current systems of care on a local, national, and global level.

Our History

IVAT was founded in July 2005, when the nationally acclaimed Family Violence and Sexual Assault Institute (FVSAI) joined Alliant International University. 

The Family Violence and Sexual Assault Institute, which is now one of the centers within IVAT, was founded in 1984 in Texas by Robert Geffner, Ph.D. FVSAI was established to address the need for a national resource and training center that focused directly on family violence issues.

In 1991, FVSAI became a non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization to deal with sexual assault issues and gradually expanded its scope to include child, teen, and elder maltreatment. In 1999, FVSAI relocated to San Diego, CA, where it became affiliated with the California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP), which merged with United States International University, becoming Alliant International University. CSPP is now a school within Alliant International University.


IVAT'S Mission

To improve the quality of life for individuals on local, national and international levels by sharing and disseminating vital information, improving collaborations and networking, conducting research and trainings, assisting with direct professional services, program evaluation, and consulting to promote violence-free living.


IVAT's Vision

Is a world free from violence, abuse, and trauma.

Maecenas a quameu

Bob Geffner

Robert Geffner, Ph.D., ABN, ABPP (view full bio)
Robert Geffner is a licensed clinician (Psychologist and Marriage & Family Therapist in California and a Licensed Psychologist in Texas) and directed a full-service private practice mental health clinic in East Texas for over 15 years prior to relocating to California 15 years ago.

Dr. Geffner has trained mental health professionals, judges, attorneys, and others for over 28 years.

He is President and Founder of a nonprofit international resource and training center (the Family Violence & Sexual Assault Institute in Texas and now in California), the Founding President of the Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma at Alliant International University, a Distinguished Research Professor of Psychology at Alliant International University in San Diego, and editor of five professional journals (including the Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, Journal of Family Violence, and the Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma; he is also in the process of becoming the editor of the Journal of Child Custody). He has a Diplomate in Clinical Neuropsychology from the American Board of Professional Neuropsychology, and is Board Certified in Couple and Family Psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology.

He has lectured extensively on the subjects of child abuse, domestic violence, trauma, forensic psychology, child custody, expert witness, and diagnostic assessment. Dr. Geffner is a past president of the American Psychological Association Division of Trauma Psychology, and he is currently co-chair of the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan (NPEIV) and president of the American Academy of Couple & Family Psychology. He has served on numerous state, national, and professional committees and task forces concerning family violence, child abuse, interpersonal violence, family law, child custody, and family psychology.

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Sandi Capuano

Sandi Capuano Morrison, M.A.
Executive Director

Sandi Capuano Morrison received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Colorado-Boulder in Psychology with a focus in Women’s Studies in 1996. Her commitment to domestic violence survivors began after volunteering at a battered women’s shelter as part of a course on Gandhi’s philosophy of ahimsa, nonviolent resistance, and satyagrapha.

Sandi was a victim advocate at Boulder County Safehouse and then Children’s Counselor at Alternatives to Violence domestic violence shelter before moving to Boston in 1998 and graduating from Boston College with her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology in 2000. It was at BC that Sandi became certified as a Batterer Intervention Program Facilitator and assisted with research on the process and efficacy of offender programs. She became the Program Director of the IMPACT Batterer Intervention Program and ran offender groups for 5 years in Boston suburbs.

After moving to San Diego in 2005, Sandi managed the county-wide domestic violence & sexual assault 24-hour hotline & volunteer program and then the city of San Diego’s Rape Crisis Center at the Center for Community Solutions. In that position she was a member of both the San Diego Sexual Assault Response Team and the Sex Offender Management Council and became certified by California’s Office of Emergency Services as a Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault counselor. She was also a Trauma Intervention Program (TIP) volunteer.

Sandi is committed to empowerment-based, survivor-informed programs & processes as well as offender accountability. She has interests in Restorative Justice, Holistic Healing, Cultural Competency, Human Rights and Social Justice.

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Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith
Continuing Education Coordinator & Bookstore Coordinator

Originally from the West Coast, Patricia is glad to be back.  Over sixteen years ago, she joined in the service provider role almost by accident, but realized it was meant to be.  Since coming into this field, she has never looked at a day and thought “why am I here?”  As a survivor of 18 years of domestic violence, she can’t imagine not doing this work.    

Patricia has over 16 years of experience in direct and indirect service in programs regarding violence against women.  She has been a direct service provider, as well as in a supervisory capacity in residential programs, to include emergency shelter and transitional living facilities.  She has extensive experience in handling crisis and has forever been a problem solver, both personally and professionally. 

She has worked serving adult & children’s needs, sexual violence victims, and served in an outreach capacity.  She has been a presenter for a number of years, to diverse audiences on a variety of topics regarding violence against women on a state, as well as national level.  She has presented to professionals such as law enforcement, medical providers, attorneys, and social workers. 
Patricia has worked with incarcerated women and teens, both male and female.  She has started programs from the ground up, such as the Adopt-A-Family for the Holidays program which is in its 14th successful year;  assisted in the first in the Big Bend of Florida area Spanish speaking support group, and International Thanksgiving just to name a few. 

She has served as the Battered /Formerly Battered Women’s Caucus Chair – Florida, and the Women of Color Caucus Chair as an agency Chair in Tallahassee, Florida.
This work is important to me so that my children and grandchildren will have a better chance in having a life without violence.

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Angela Schwab
Outreach & Volunteer Specialist

Angela comes to IVAT after an 18 year nursing career where she worked in a variety of settings as a Licensed Vocational Nurse before receiving her Bachelors of Science in Nursing from California State University San Marcos in 2010. While in nursing school, Angela gained a passion for non-profit organizational work as Legislative Director and President of the California Nursing Student Association. After graduation in 2010 she spent one term as Membership Director on the board of the American Nurses Association\California where she truly developed a love for community outreach.

Angela is part of IVAT’s Self-Care Subcommittee for both our Hawaii and San Diego Summits. As a nurse she saw firsthand the toll lack of self-care can take on individuals; particularly those working on the front lines of patient care. In 2015, she created an information website for those interested in self-care and became a Registered Yoga Teacher. She continues to learn and spread the word about the importance of caring for oneself through her yoga practice and website.

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Gini Mann-Deibert
Summits & Training Manager

Gini Mann-Deibert holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from The University of Texas at Austin in Sociology. For nearly 20 years, she worked in universities teaching courses in criminal justice and violence prevention. She was a professor at Texas State University-San Marcos where her research focused on sexual offenders under community supervision. In 2008, Gini relocated to Boston where she was a professor of Sociology at Suffolk University. Her work continued to focus on sexual offenders and understanding correlates of violence. However, her interest in advocacy for victims and prevention increased.

She has extensive experience with sexual assault prevention, awareness, and reactions on college campuses. Drawing from multiple perspectives including intersectionality, Gini is committed to dismantling rape culture in tangible increments. She works to generate micro-changes in commonly held beliefs about sexual violence in order to create sustainable social change in how social institutions approach victims as well as curb sexual assaults.

Gini joined IVAT after relocating to San Diego. She moved back home to California to be closer to her family and to work more directly with communities needing support and advocacy in the area of violence prevention.

Forensic Team Bios


Robert Geffner, Ph.D. is a licensed clinician (Psychologist and Marriage & Family Therapist in California and a Licensed Psychologist in Texas) and directed a full-service private practice mental health clinic in East Texas for over 15 years prior to relocating to California 15 years ago. Dr. Geffner has trained mental health professionals, judges, attorneys, and others for over 28 years. He is President and Founder of a nonprofit international resource and training center (the Family Violence & Sexual Assault Institute in Texas and now in California), the Founding President of the Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma at Alliant International University, a Distinguished Research Professor of Psychology at Alliant International University in San Diego, and editor of five professional journals (including the Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, Journal of Family Violence, and the Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma; he is also in the process of becoming the editor of the Journal of Child Custody). He has a Diplomate in Clinical Neuropsychology from the American Board of Professional Neuropsychology, and is Board Certified in Couple and Family Psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology. He has lectured extensively on the subjects of child abuse, domestic violence, trauma, forensic psychology, child custody, expert witness, and diagnostic assessment. Dr. Geffner is a past president of the American Psychological Association Division of Trauma Psychology, and he is currently co-chair of the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan (NPEIV) and president of the American Academy of Couple & Family Psychology.  He has served on numerous state, national, and professional committees and task forces concerning family violence, child abuse, interpersonal violence, family law, child custody, and family psychology.

Denis Yukhnenko joined the Professional Clinical and Forensic Services team for a clinical and research internship as a part of the exchange agreement between the IVAT and the Maastricht University in the Netherlands. He received training in clinical psychology at the Lomonosov Moscow State University in Russia and graduated with honors in 2012. After the graduation, Denis worked as a first-line response psychologist at the Emergency Control Ministry of Russia, responding to ongoing suicide attempts, car accidents, manmade and natural disasters, and successfully participated in several humanitarian operations. In addition, he have several years of research experience in neurophysiological and neuropsychological mechanisms of schizophrenia. In 2014, Denis was admitted to the MSc in Forensic Psychology program at the Maastricht University that he is going to finish soon. At the IVAT, he works as a part of the PCFS team on civil and criminal cases, and also conducts research on the topics of juvenile delinquency and expert decision making.

Morgan Shaw, M.A. is a fourth-year doctoral student (Psy.D.) of Clinical Forensic Psychology at the California School of Forensic Studies at Alliant International University. She earned her Master of Arts degree at this same university in 2012. Prior to that, Ms. Shaw earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of California, at Santa Barbara. Ms. Shaw’s graduate training includes providing individual and group psychotherapy to a severely mentally ill inpatient population who had been committed under various criminal and civil codes. Further graduate experience includes conducting comprehensive neuropsychological evaluations, as well as providing behavioral medicine evaluations to a chronic pain population. Ms. Shaw has further experience in biofeedback training, applied behavior analysis, and rape crisis training. Ms. Shaw continues to conduct research in the area of juvenile violence risk assessments, including her dissertation research, which examines the use of violence risk assessments by juvenile probation officers. Currently, Ms. Shaw is part of the clinical and forensic team at IVAT and FVSAI where she will be completing a pre-doctoral internship under the supervision of Drs. Geffner and Platt.

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