The Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, formerly known as the Institute on Violence Against Women and Their Children, was founded in early 2001 by a small group of researchers from the School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin who had significant direct service and practice experience with survivors prior to joining the University. Most of these faculty members were licensed social workers and were still involved in providing direct services to survivors through volunteer work.  Faculty members at the School of Law and Nursing joined the collaboration.

Based on their depth of professional experience, they hypothesized that a multi-disciplinary, research-practitioner collaborative approach which utilized an ecological perspective would be the most effective strategy to further develop the knowledge base and to develop the competencies of members of the university community. At the time, three investigators for IDVSA emerged to pursue this goal. Dr. Noël Busch-Armendariz, Assistant Professor at the School of Social Work, became the Principal Investigator; Sarah Buel, JD, Clinical Professor in the School of Law, became a Co-Investigator as did Dr. Regina Johnson, Assistant Professor at the School of Nursing.  Dr. Holly Bell is a former Co-Investigator of IDVSA.