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About us

CATS centre combines the expertise from the departments of Psychology and Criminology at Middlesex University to provide high quality research, consultancy, practice training, media dissemination, continuing professional development, knowledge exchange and learning in a broad range of abuse and trauma related topics across the lifespan.  We use attachment, stress and lifespan models in the context of health, social care and criminal justice to inform practice and policy. We utilise a range of research methods including those online for the digital age.

Our centre is located in a historic Grade II* listed building, a former home of the Church Farmhouse Museum, and the oldest surviving dwelling in Hendon, North London.

What we do

We undertake both academic and applied research projects in areas of stress, health and cyberbullying. We can provide bespoke research projects and consultancy.

Short training courses on assessment (e.g. child neglect/abuse; attachment style; parenting; internet offenders and risk) and methods (around assessment, self-evaluation and research tools) and consultancy for researchers and practitioners. Workshops on abuse and trauma and related topics (child safeguarding; attachment; parenting; internet abuse; interviewing child victims; risk assessment of serious offenders).

We provide service evaluations in a wide range of areas, including: child safeguarding and Looked After services; police practice with vulnerable victims; educational services around abuse prevention; interagency working of professionals; youth services.

Areas of focus

Life Events, child and adult stress and mental health, attachment issues in abuse and trauma; domestic abuse of both children and partners.

Cyberbullying, sexting and self taken images, online stalking and internet safety, young people’s use of digital media and online behaviour in the UK and the Middle East.

Intra-familial child sexual abuse, young people and trust in the police, child victims in the investigative process, child trafficking, community support for offenders and their families.

Our Team

Professor Antonia Bifulco
Professor Antonia BifulcoCentre Director

Prof Antonia Bifulco is a psychologist who has worked in the area of clinical disorder and psycho-social risk across the lifespan since 1980. Her PhD studies at Bedford College, University of London focused on the long term impact of childhood loss of mother on depression. Her career developed in the Social Research Team headed by Prof George Brown and Tirril Harris, investigating life stress, vulnerability and depression in women. In 1990 on Prof Brown’s retirement she took over the team renamed the ‘Lifespan Research Group’ and completed an MRC programme grant. The team continued with a more applied focus after that time, working together with voluntary and statutory health and social care agencies to help improve assessment and practice.

Prof Bifulco’s research has been published widely in international peer reviewed journals. Her book co-authored with CATS member Geraldine Thomas Understanding Adult Attachment in Families (2012, Routledge) summarises 30 years of academic and applied research. In addition, Wednesday’s Child (Bifulco & Moran, 1998, Routledge) is still a primary text for students and researchers in the area of long terms effect of childhood neglect and abuse, recently translated into Italian. The Childhood Experience of Care and Abuse (CECA) interview was developed by Toni Bifulco as a standardised interview tool for collecting information on abuse in early life. This is increasingly used by practitioners in forensic, social work and psychological fields. Another publication Entrepreneurship for Everyone (2009, Mellor, Coulton, Chick, Bifulco, Mellor & Fisher, Sage) examines the issue of knowledge exchange and how university research can be used to help develop practice.

Prof Bifulco is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, is an associate fellow of the BPS and is a Chartered Psychologist, and has a visiting Professorship at Palermo University, Italy.


  • Bifulco, Antonia (2017) Identity, attachment and resilience: Exploring three generations of a Polish family. Routledge, London and New York.
  • Webster, Stephen and Davidson, Julia and Bifulco, Antonia (2014) Online offending behaviour and child victimisation: new findings and policy. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Antonia Bifulco and Geraldine Thomas ( 2012) Understanding Adult Attachment in Family Relationships: Research, Assessment and Intervention. Routledge.

Journal articles:

  • Bifulco, Antonia and Frost, Nollaig (2019) Impacts of childhood maltreatment in adulthood. Maltrattamento E Abuso All’infanzia: Rivista Interdisciplinare. Child Abuse and Maltreatment: Interdisciplinary Journal (2). pp. 7-11. ISSN 1591-4267
  • Bifulco, Antonia and Kagan, Lisa and Spence, Ruth and Nunn, Stephen and Bailey-Rodriguez, Deborah and Hosang, Georgina M. and Taylor, Matthew and Fisher, Helen L. (2019) Characteristics of severe life events, attachment style, and depression – Using a new online approach. British Journal of Clinical Psychology , 58 (4). pp. 427-439. ISSN 0144-6657
  • Bifulco, Antonia , Damiani, Rachele, Jacobs, Catherine, Bunn, Amanda and Spence, Ruth (2019) Partner violence in women – associations with childhood maltreatment, attachment style and major depression. Maltrattamento E Abuso All’infanzia: Rivista Interdisciplinare | Child Abuse and Maltreatment: Interdisciplinary Journal (2) . pp. 13-28. ISSN 1591-4267
  • Spence, Ruth , Kagan, Lisa and Bifulco, Antonia (2019) A contextual approach to trauma experience: lessons from life events research. Psychological Medicine, 49 (9) . pp. 1409-1413. ISSN 0033-2917
  • Jacobs, Catherine, Boyce, Nichola, Ilan-Clarke, Yael and Bifulco, Antonia (2019) Assessing attachment style in traumatized adolescents in residential care: A case approach. Maltrattamento E Abuso All’infanzia: Rivista Interdisciplinare | Child Abuse and Maltreatment: Interdisciplinary Journal (1) . pp. 39-54. ISSN 1591-4267
  • Bifulco, Antonia and Frost, Nollaig (2019) Impacts of maltreatment in adolescence. Maltrattamento E Abuso All’infanzia: Rivista Interdisciplinare | Child Abuse and Maltreatment: Interdisciplinary Journal (1) . pp. 7-10. ISSN 1591-4267
  • Bifulco, Antonia , Jacobs, Catherine, Oskis, Andrea , Cavana, Francesca and Spence, Ruth (2019) Lifetime trauma, adversity and emotional disorder in older age women. Maltrattamento E Abuso All’infanzia: Rivista Interdisciplinare | Child Abuse and Maltreatment: Interdisciplinary Journal (2) . pp. 29-43. ISSN 1591-4267
  • Bifulco, Antonia , Spence, Ruth, Nunn, Stephen , Kagan, Lisa, Bailey-Rodriguez, Deborah , Hosang, Georgina M., Taylor, Matthew and Fisher, Helen L. (2019) Web-based measure of life events using computerized life events and assessment record (CLEAR): preliminary cross-sectional study of reliability, validity, and association with depression. JMIR Mental Health, 6 (1) , e10675. ISSN 2368-7959
  • Spence, Ruth, Jacobs, Catherine and Bifulco, Antonia (2018) Attachment style, loneliness and depression in older age women. Aging and mental health . ISSN 1360-7863
  • Bifulco, Antonia , Jacobs, Catherine, Ilan-Clarke, Yael, Spence, Ruth and Oskis, Andrea (2017) Adolescent attachment style in residential care: the attachment style interview and vulnerable attachment style questionnaire. British Journal of Social Work, 47 . pp. 1880-1883. ISSN 0045-3102
  • Spence, Ruth and Bunn, Amanda and Nunn, Stephen and Hosang, Georgina and Kagan, Lisa and Fisher, Helen L. and Taylor, Matthew and Bifulco, Antonia (2015) Measuring life events and their association with clinical disorder: a protocol for development of an online approach. JMIR Research Protocols, 4 (3). e83.
  • Schimmenti, Adriano and Bifulco, Antonia (2015) Linking lack of care in childhood to anxiety disorders in emerging adulthood: the role of attachment styles. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 20 (1).
  • Bifulco, Antonia and Schimmenti, Adriano and Jacobs, Catherine and Bunn, Amanda and Rusu, Adina C. (2014) Risk factors and psychological outcomes of bullying victimization: a community-based study. Child Indicators Research.
  • Bifulco, Antonia and Schimmenti, Adriano and Moran, Patricia and Jacobs, Catherine and Bunn, Amanda and Rusu, Adina Carmen (2014) Problem parental care and teenage deliberate self-harm in young community adults. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 78 (2). pp. 95-114.

For full list of research publications visit Prof Bifulco’s university profile page.

Associate staff

Dr Elena Martellozzo
Dr Elena MartellozzoAssociate Director and Associate Professor in Criminology
Elena Martellozzo is an Associate Professor in Criminology and Associate Director at the Centre for Child Abuse and Trauma Studies (CATS) at Middlesex University. Elena has been working in the area of cyber violence for 15 years and is now recognised as a world leading expert in the area, focusing primarily on online harms, online safety and is involved in policy debates at the intersection of technology and human behaviour. One of Elena’s key focuses is to develop innovative research and sharing her findings in international fora. She continually attracts research funding in highly sensitive areas with government departments including the police, the Internet Watch Foundation, the NSPCC, the Children Commissioner for England, the Home Office. She has acted as an advisor on child online protection and online violence against women and girls to governments and practitioners in Italy (since 2004) and Bahrain (2016) to support the development of national child internet safety policy frameworks. Elena is a lead researcher in the area and has led a number of high impact project, nationally and internationally. As a published peer-reviewed author, and well-established national and international Criminologist, she is regularly invited as a speaker by the BBC, New York Post, Sunday Times, The Guardian, Channel 4, Radio 4, ITV, The Times Radio.

Elena is a published author and delivers regularly expert seminars in schools to pupils, parents and teachers on online safety and prevention. She also develops specialised training workshops for police officers and front line professionals working in the online safety and sexual health area.

Dr Jeffrey DeMarco
Dr Jeffrey DeMarcoAssociate Director and Forensic Psychologist
Dr Jeffrey DeMarco is a forensic psychological senior policy and insight professional with expertise in cyberpsychology. Extensive experience leading high performing teams and delivering high quality projects tackling online harms, with an emphasis on radicalisation and child sexual abuse and exploitation. Expertise lies in understanding the intersection between psychology and technology and has required close working with police forces in assessing child sexual abuse material and developing appropriate measures/responses to its production, distribution and removal. Held several operational roles under contracts with a range of government departments, NGOs and private companies which informed strategic communications, policy and practice. Additionally, a large volume of the work has come in the form of consultancy including ‘hands on’ training and workshops with social media firms including Facebook and Twitter, as well as police forces and operational units with government departments, both nationally and internationally. He also works for the national charity Victim Support with the Homicide Service – providing support for those bereaved by murder and manslaughter.
Dr Ruth Spence
Dr Ruth SpenceSenior Research Fellow in Psychology
Ruth Spence is a senior researcher at the Centre for Child Abuse and Trauma Studies (CATS) at Middlesex University. Ruth works across various projects that focus on trauma experiences and their psychological sequela, as well as developing online assessment and intervention approaches.

Ruth has worked in partnership with charities, industry and third sector organisations using a range of online methodologies and analytic techniques to create insights from data. She has published on the determinants of mental health, including life events and the psychological effects of online content.

Paula Bradbury
Paula BradburyLecturer in Criminology and Policing Practice and Senior Researcher
Paula Bradbury is a lecturer in Criminology and Policing Practice at the University of Middlesex. She is also the Senior Researcher at the Centre for Abuse & Trauma Studies engaging in multiple research projects and bid writing opportunities, the results have led to several successful grants awarded. She is a doctoral researcher studying for a PhD in Criminology, exploring the appropriateness of policy and policing practice in response to adolescents sharing nudes.

Paula is a published, peer reviewed author, specialising in the field of online harms, child sexual abuse and exploitation, stalking, sexual violence, offender pathways and adolescent digital behaviours. She has a keen interest in understanding sexual behaviours in cyberspace and how our safeguarding policies and policing practices need to evolve to meet the challenges of the Metaverse. She provides private online harms consultation to public, private, and civil service organisations, both in the UK and abroad.

Paula has also presented to the international Ministry of Justices’ on Online Harms and the risks of Violence Against Women and Girls in a digital age, conducted media panel discussions on the topic of risks through sexual image sharing platforms, and gives talks on sexual image sharing, legislation, policy and practice. Paula began her career working in Policing Intelligence as a Sexual Offences Analyst, and was the National Child Sexual Abuse Lead at Victim Support.

Boglárka Meggyesfalvi
Boglárka MeggyesfalviResearch scholar
Children’s Rights Specialist with a background in Educational Studies and Social Sciences. Experienced in working with underprivileged children and passionate about child protection and preventing child trafficking and sexual abuse. Working on online safety and content moderation research projects at CATS.
Dr Lisa Marzano
Dr Lisa MarzanoProfessor in Psychology and Theme Director for Equity and Improvements in Health and Wellbeing
Lisa Marzano is a Professor of Psychology and Theme Director for Equity and Improvements in Health and Wellbeing at Middlesex University. For over twenty years she has worked closely with a range of stakeholders, academic collaborators and experts by lived experience to develop an interdisciplinary evidence-base to reduce suicides and self-harm in safe, effective and more compassionate ways. Current areas of work include a focus on suicidal behaviour and ‘life-saving interventions’ in public places, ‘online harms’ and technological innovations in suicide prevention, and timely monitoring of suspected suicides at local and national level.
Catherine Jacobs
Catherine JacobsResearch Fellow in Psychology and Programme Lead CATS Evidence-Based CPD Training
Catherine Jacobs, CPsychol, is a chartered Research Psychologist with the British Psychological Society. She leads the CATs evidence-based training programmes and carries out service evaluations for the team. She specialises in attachment, parenting and assessments of childhood risk and resilience.

Amanda Bunn
Amanda Bunn Research Fellow in Psychology and Programme Manager CATS Evidence-Based CPD Training
Amanda has over twenty-five years experience of working with researchers and practitioners in public health, psychology and social care. She specialises in knowledge exchange and has developed and evaluated services, interventions and training programmes. Amanda is a chartered member and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society.
Dr Andrea Oskis
Dr Andrea OskisSenior Lecturer in Psychology
Andrea is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Middlesex University, London. Her teaching and research expertise extend across a range of areas in psychology, including developmental, biological, health, clinical and counselling psychology, but the heart of all of her work is attachment and human relationships. Andrea’s most recent interest is the role of food in social connection. Her doctoral research was in the field of psychophysiology, looking at stress hormones and attachment styles. Andrea is also an attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapist (UKCP registered and a member of the Bowlby Centre).
Dr Jenni Ward
Dr Jenni WardSenior Lecturer in Criminology
Jenny’s interests are in youth offending and for criminal justice services to take into account psychological development in sentencing policy.
Professor Julia Davidson
Professor Julia DavidsonVisiting Professor and Associate CATS member from UEL
Dr Paul Bleakley
Dr Paul Bleakley Lecturer in Criminology
Research exploring the efficacy of a recently introduced Stalking Screening Tool across police forces in the UK.
Daniel Sailofsky
Daniel SailofskyLecturer in Criminology
Daniel is a criminologist/sociologist with an interest in gender and gender-based violence, masculinity, sport sociology, and online violence. His interdisciplinary academic background includes formal training in law, sport management, criminology and sociology.

His research agenda includes the study of athlete violence against women, sport and violence, and work examining how social structures, institutions and culture shape deviant and criminal behaviour. He also studied how gender, race, class and sexuality impact outcomes in the criminal justice system and the social construction of crime. This has led to projects looking at cultural backlash against socially progressive changes in sport and in society, masculinity, misogyny, and cancel culture on Twitter, and the construction of victimhood in victim impact statements in cases of domestic violence, sexual violence, and homicide.

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CATS cenre location

Centre for Abuse and Trauma Studies, Middlesex University
Church Farm House, Church End, London, NW4 4JR