Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative with Vulnerable Populations

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Gwich'in Settlement Area, Sahtu Settlement Area, Dehcho Region, North Slave Region, South Slave Region, Qikiqtaaluk Region

Tags: social sciences, intimate partner violence, violence

Principal Investigator: Jaffe, Peter (4)
Licence Number: 16086
Organization: Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children, Western University
Licensed Year(s): 2020 2019 2018 2017
Issued: May 30, 2017
Project Team: Myrna Dawson, Mary Hampton, Diane Crocker, Myriam Dube, Katherine Rossiter, Jane Ursel, Nicole Letourneau

Objective(s): To enhance and inform domestic violence risk assessment, risk management and safety planning strategies in order to decrease the risk of lethality for particular vulnerable populations (i.e.Indigenous people; rural, northern and remote communities; immigrants and refugees; and children exposed to domestic violence).

Project Description: The purpose of the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative with Vulnerable Populations (CDHPIVP) is to enhance and inform domestic violence risk assessment, risk management and safety planning strategies in order to decrease the risk of lethality for particular vulnerable populations (i.e.Indigenous people; rural, northern and remote communities; immigrants and refugees; and children exposed to domestic violence). This goal will be accomplished by identifying unique individual and community-level risk factors, which may increase exposure to domestic violence for these particular populations, and by understanding the barriers to effective risk management and safety planning within these populations. The goal of the CDHPIVP will be addressed through the following three objectives:
1) Enhancing and developing national partnerships: The CDHPIVP will form a national partnership between Canadian Research Centres on Violence, Canada’s Domestic Violence Death Review Committees, community partners from the violence against women and domestic violence sector, Indigenous organizations and agencies, organizations that serve immigrants and refugees, as well as health and justice sectors across the country. Currently the CDHPIVP has over 40 partners with representatives from all provinces and territories.
2) Developing a national domestic homicide database: Starting in the first year of the initiative and continuing over the course of the CDHPIVP, the applicants, collaborators, and partners will work towards developing a national domestic homicide database that will contain information on domestic homicide cases across Canada retrospectively. The database will allow researchers to identify trends, common risk markers, unique factors, and system involvement associated with domestic homicides with a specific focus on particular vulnerable populations.
3) Cross-sectoral research on risk factors for domestic homicide associated with particular vulnerable populations: The core objective of the CDHPIVP will be to develop and conduct research that will identify domestic homicide risk factors among vulnerable communities and groups that may be distinct from other groups and identify, inform, and enhance risk management and safety planning tools and practices. The outcome of this objective will be enhanced and evidence-based information about effective risk assessment, risk management and safety planning strategies to prevent lethal domestic violence for these groups and their communities.

Domestic homicide database: Data on domestic homicides that occurred between 2010 and 2020 in all provinces and territories will be collected. Data for cases that occurred in the Northwest Territories (NWT) will be collected from homicide files at the Coroner’s Service in Yellowknife, with the support of the Coroner who is a partner for this project. A signed research agreement between the NWT Coroner’s Service and the CDHPIVP has been obtained. A standardized coding form will be used to collect the data. Protocols will be put in place for data storage and transportation through encrypted computers and email transfers that will protect the confidentiality of the data retrieved from the Coroners files.

National online survey and key informant interviews: An online survey will be open to all those who wish to participate. Interviews will be conducted with key informants who are involved in domestic violence work involving risk assessment, risk management, and/or safety planning including: Shelter workers, victim advocates; Police; Crown attorneys; Family law lawyers; Defence lawyers; Victim services (police and court); partner assault prevention program workers; Child protection; Corrections - probation; Mental health; Health care; Education; Indigenous shelter workers; Immigrant and refugee settlement services; Sexual violence support services; Addictions support services; Cultural community program/centre; and gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit, and queer (GLBTTQ) community program/centres. Key informants will first complete a brief (11 questions) online survey about their work roles, the communities they serve, and the risk assessment, risk management, and safety planning strategies they use in their work. The survey will be distributed through the CDHPIVP website (, the partners' and collaborators' networks and websites, and potential participants will also be identified through a literature review and sent survey invitations through publicly available email addresses. The CDHPIVP is a national network of over 40 partners and collaborators representing all provinces and territories in Canada, and will be a primary means by which participants will become aware of our study. The final question of the survey will ask if the informant would like to participate in an in-person/phone/skype interview.

While the survey will be broader in nature, the follow-up interviews will focus on participants who indicate that at least part of their work focuses on serving the vulnerable populations that are the focus of the CDHPIVP (Indigenous populations, rural, remote and northern populations, immigrant and refugee populations, and children exposed to domestic violence). The interviews will take approximately 30-60 minutes and the participants will be asked for their permission to audio record the interview. Interview questions discuss participants’ use of domestic violence risk assessment, risk management, and safety planning particularly with the four vulnerable populations identified. Translation services will be made available for those participants who may be more comfortable interviewed in a language other than English. When transcribing the interviews, the participants’ name will be replaced by a code to ensure anonymity. Further, any identifying information will be kept in a secure data storage location accessible only by the co-investigators.

3. Interviewing family members of domestic homicide victims and survivors of attempted domestic homicide: The third component of the project involves gathering information from official records on all closed domestic homicide cases with an emphasis on understanding the history of domestic violence in the relationship, points of intervention or service contact that occurred before the homicide and identified risk factors. Interviews with those related to the victim and/or perpetrator will be sought to supplement these secondary data and help provide more contextual qualitative information about the couple and their relationship prior to the homicide. Next, cases of attempted domestic homicide that occurred in the NWT will be identified through CDHPIVP partner organizations (e.g., shelters), media reports, and official records. Through partnerships developed with those who work with the victims of domestic violence, requests will be made to interview surviving victims to capture similar information. These women will be asked to speak about factors that made them think they were in danger, where they sought help, and management and safety planning strategies that were or could have been effective and practical. Follow-up support for these participants will be provided through local services as the team are aware that talking about their experiences may bring up some trauma that will need to be addressed. The research team will also seek consultation from the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Advisory Committee in developing follow-up support for survivors being interviewed.

The CDHPIVP will also engage with local community partners and leaders to help support and facilitate interviews with survivors of domestic homicide and severe domestic violence. Storytelling is a traditional knowledge exchange strategy in Indigenous communities and allows for the sharing of information through experiences. This component of the research is highly valuable as it gives survivors and victims’ a voice in what is needed to prevent this violence. However, the CDHPIVP will rely on local community support to assist in designing and implementing this component of the research in an ethical and culturally sensitive manner. The CDHPIVP will engage with Elders and leaders in the local community to help facilitate community gatherings and talking circles to facilitate the development of relationships between researchers and community members and provide an opportunity for community input on the research process.

Co-investigators on the CDHPIVP will have the opportunity to mentor a community intern. The intern will be from the local community and will receive training in risk assessment, management, and safety planning associated with domestic homicide prevention using knowledge gained from the research project. The intern will be a key member in mobilizing knowledge to their local community and they will receive opportunities to cultivate an academic career.

Results of the study will be communicated to participants, communities, and NWT organizations through a variety of mediums. One communication tool is the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative website ( The CDHPIVP will also use several electronic forms of communication including free open access webinars, online resources and trainings. The CDHPIVP has also partnered with organizations that represent Indigenous and northern populations (e.g., Native Women's Association of Canada; Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society, Coroner’s Service of Northwest Territories). Results of this study will be communicated using these partners' websites, social media, and email lists. Students will communicate findings in open access academic publications and online dissertation libraries. The CDHPIVP will host a national conference in 2017 and 2019 where results will be presented. Results will also be presented at local conferences in communities of the CDHPIVP partners and at national annual Indigenous conferences and general meetings if requested. Key findings may be used to inform public education campaigns, such as Kanawayhitowin ( and the Moosehide Campaign that addresses domestic violence.

The CDHPIVP will consult with representatives and collaborators from the communities of which we are gathering data to guide the collaborative collection, analysis and interpretation of findings. Research will be developed in partnership with the community in order to appropriately contextualize the research results and utilize existing channels for knowledge dissemination that are relevant to community members and will help build relationships (e.g., Indigenous talking circles, community gatherings, varied forms of media).

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from May 29, 2017 to December 29, 2017.