Dr. Demers is an applied social psychologist who spent several years as an assistant professor in a community psychology doctoral program before joining UVM’s Public Health Sciences faculty. In the years between her undergraduate and graduate educations, Dr. Demers also worked at several nonprofit organizations and completed a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA.
Dr. Demers is the Director of the new Preventing Interpersonal Violence via Outreach and Training (PIVOT) Peer Educators Program, due to launch in Spring 2024. Undergraduate students participating in the program are trained to serve as campus leaders dedicated to building a UVM community free from sexual and other forms of interpersonal violence. Peer educators organize events, create social awareness campaigns, and run workshops on various topics (e.g., bystander intervention, consent education, healthy relationships) that give UVM students the knowledge and tools to help prevent violence on and off campus. The PIVOT Peer Educators Program is a student-driven initiative founded on activism and social justice. As such, it aims to empower all UVM students to help create the environment where they live and learn. Likewise, peer educator training uses an intersectional approach in which trainees learn about the structural, cultural, and social contexts that uphold violence and differentially impact the experiences of survivors of various identities and backgrounds. Students interested in learning more about becoming a PIVOT Peer Educator should email Dr. Demers.
Dr. Demers’ interdisciplinary, mixed-methods research broadly focuses on interpersonal violence (i.e., sexual violence, intimate partner violence, & stalking) to inform new prevention methods and improved response services for victims. She is especially interested in examining how social media and other technologies present unique challenges and opportunities for prevention and collective action to address systemic inequities for victims. Some of her current interests and related projects include decisions to disclose victimization experiences online, especially as a form of activism; victim community-building, allyship, and bystander helping behaviors on social media; the impact of media coverage of high-profile cases of interpersonal violence; and how the marginalization of various social identities (e.g., the ubiquity of fatphobia) intersect to affect victim experiences. Dr. Demers will begin re-establishing her lab from her previous institution – the Social Action, Violence, & Inequities (SAVI) Research Group – at UVM over the school year. Students interested in potential research opportunities related to interpersonal violence should email her directly.