Waypoint Researchers Launch Cross-Canada Project To Address Intimate Partner Violence


Waypoint researchers have embarked on a pioneering nationwide endeavour, partnering with police services and universities in Alberta, New Brunswick and Ontario to study and share evidence-based approaches for assessing risk of intimate partner violence (IPV).

Intimate partner violence has increased since the pandemic and remains a pervasive concern, affecting individuals across society. Recognizing the urgent need for a unified response strategy, this collaborative initiative led by Waypoint Senior Research Scientist Dr. N. Zoe Hilton seeks to establish a common language for assessing and discussing IPV risks that transcend municipal and provincial police services and other criminal justice stakeholders.

“We plan to create a standardized approach to interpreting IPV risk, and test the approach across men, women, and individuals with diverse gender identities,” says Dr. Hilton, who is also a Professor of Psychiatry in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto.

Already underway, the Edmonton Police Service, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and the Saint John Police Force are gathering data on IPV incidents to support the project’s objectives. Spearheading this interdisciplinary research are experts Dr. Angela Eke (OPP), Dr. Mary Ann Campbell (University of New Brunswick), Dr. Sandy Jung (MacEwan University) and Dr. Karl Hanson (Society for the Advancement of Actuarial Risk Need Assessment). Complementing this distinguished group are Waypoint’s Elke Ham, Dr. Meghan Weissflog and Dr. Soyeon Kim.

Risk assessment is an indispensable tool for risk management, making it possible for police to intervene quickly and effectively to prevent further violence. However, recent events such as the 2022 triple femicide of Anastasia Kuzyk, Nathalie Warmerdam and Carol Culleton in Ontario have highlighted the need for a consistent way to communicate and respond to high-risk cases.

To share their ongoing research and contribute to broader uptake of their findings, the team has launched a comprehensive website (celiaproject.squarespace.com). The website not only presents their research results but also delves into related work on coercive control – an area intricately linked to IPV.

“Studies show that coercive control is related to intimate partner femicide,” says Dr. Hilton. “If we overlook the danger signs by ignoring coercive control, we could be missing opportunities to save lives. Our collaborative efforts with police organizations will focus on equipping police to recognize and respond to non-physical, coercive and controlling behaviours when assessing IPV risk.”

By spearheading this transformative research, Waypoint researchers and their esteemed collaborators are pioneering a comprehensive approach to intimate partner violence assessment that promises to improve the safety and well-being of countless individuals across Canada and beyond.

This project is supported in part by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

For more information, please contact zhilton@waypointentre.ca.


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