Sarah Myers Tlapek

Sarah Myers Tlapek


Adjunct Instructor


  • PhD, Washington University, 2015
  • MSW, University of Pittsburgh, 2003
  • MID, University of Pittsburgh, 2003
  • BA, Grove City College, 1997

Research interests

Intimate Partner Violence; Trauma and Mental Health in Post-Conflict Settings; Interventions for Economic and Social Development.

Research and scholarly activity

Investigating Traumatic Exposure, Mental Health, and Interpersonal Violence

The aim of Dr. Tlapek’s research is the promotion of well-being for women who have survived difficult circumstances, including violent political and interpersonal conflict. She does this by studying the relationships between trauma, mental health, and interpersonal violence and examining interventions that are effective for helping survivors.

Dr. Tlapek’s most recent research examines the experiences of refugee women in Missouri who seek assistance for mental health and domestic violence. The study explores the discourse and practice of social service providers who respond to refugee populations with mental health or domestic violence services. Currently, she is partnering with a community-based agency on a research study to identify strategies for improving the implementation of evidence-based interventions for economic empowerment of survivors of intimate partner violence.

Previous research has examined ways that exposure to one type of violence may increase the risk for future interpersonal violence, with both an international and domestic focus. Her dissertation research focused on genocide survivors in Rwanda, examining the role of trauma exposure and mental health in the perpetration of intimate partner violence in that post-conflict setting. Dr. Tlapek’s domestic work has included examining pathways between maltreatment and interpersonal revictimization through collaboration on a trauma-focused cognitive behavioral interventional study for adolescent girls.

Prior to doctoral studies Dr. Tlapek worked for ten years in a variety of domestic and international practice settings, including several years in Africa’s Great Lakes region managing economic development, health promotion, and child development programs for an international nongovernmental organization. She has published articles on poverty and economic development interventions in developing countries. Dr. Tlapek enjoys mentoring and teaching students in the MSW program and teaches Research Methods and Advanced Foundations of Human Behavior for Administrators.