Eighty per cent of domestic homicides are preceded by at least seven risk factors that were known to someone close to them, says new national research co-led by Western experts.
Knowing more about those risks — which can include prior domestic abuse, stalking, separation or a perpetrator’s substance abuse – can literally save lives, said Peter Jaffe, of Western University’s Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children.
“Domestic homicides appear to be the most predictable and preventable of all homicides because there are usually multiple risk factors known to friends, family, co-workers and professionals involved with the victim and perpetrator before the homicide. We owe it to the victims and surviving family members to do a better job in risk assessment and early intervention to prevent these tragedies,” Jaffe said.
The research will be featured in London on Wednesday and Thursday (October 18 and 19) as more than 450 researchers, policy-makers and other professionals representing more than 60 organizations gather here for the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Conference.
A key goal of this conference is to identify any risk factors specific to vulnerable populations, who may experience higher rates of victimization in Canada: Indigenous women, women living in rural and remote areas, immigrants and refugee women and children exposed to violence.
Jaffe is co-director, with Myrna Dawson of the University of Guelph, of a five-year $2.2-million grant awarded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s Partnership Development Grant program. Its aim is to save lives by helping professionals and others identify, manage risks and enact safety plans to protect women at risk of intimate-partner violence. In 2012 in Canada, 20 per cent of all homicides stemmed from domestic violence.
Dawson said the team is working to generate a database that will lead to better risk-assessment tools and better prevention strategies. “Historical and contemporary research has shown that women are at particular risk of domestic homicide, but additional barriers can hinder more vulnerable or marginalized populations from reporting domestic violence and obtaining necessary services, further increasing risk for various groups.”
Dawson said the conference is a national effort to bring together experts from all sectors — professionals, survivors, justice, workplace and researchers — to improve policies and services in a community response to domestic violence.
The conference is supported by the Canadian Women’s Foundation and Status of Women Canada who are making the publication of conference proceedings possible.
OF NOTE: Proceedings take place at the London Convention Centre and are open to the media both Wednesday and Thursday. Because some participants are risking their safety to contribute to the discussion, organizers ask that media (including social-media users) gain permission from any person they photograph before publishing or posting.
For interviews, contact:
Peter Jaffe, Co-Director, Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative with Vulnerable Populations & Academic Director, Centre for Research and Education on Violence against Women & Children, Faculty of Education, Western University, 519-661-2018 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Myrna Dawson, Co-Director, Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative with Vulnerable Populations & Director, Centre for the Study of Social and Legal Responses to Violence, University of Guelph, 519 824 4120 ext: 56028 or email@example.com
MEDIA CONTACT: Debora Van Brenk, Media Relations Officer, Western University, 519-661-2111 x85165, or on mobile at 519-318-0657 and firstname.lastname@example.org
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