Dr. O’Brien’s current area of specialization is engaging Catholic Communities to respond with Gospel values to domestic abuse through educational and research options. She is a Ph.D. researcher with a background in Human Development, a certified quality improvement coordinator, and a certified focus group facilitator with over ten years of experience working with interfaith colleagues to address this issue. Her current research interests are related to identifying how the Catholic faith and programs serve as resources or roadblocks to help people recognize, respond, and recover from domestic abuse. This focus includes educational work for the person who is hurting; the person causing the harm; any child witnesses; and the family and friends looking for ways to help loved ones be safe.
Dr. O’Brien is an international presenter, author, trainer, and writer of two on-line guides addressing faith response to domestic abuse. The guides can be found at the websites of National Council of Catholic Women and at Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence. She is on the Editorial Board of Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma and on the Advisory Board of Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse (JCADA).