Collaborative Research on Effects of Pandemic on Family Violence Awarded CIHR Grant

Posted on Thursday, January 27th, 2022

Written by Kendra Schnarr

A community engaged research project with CESI involvement has been awarded funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Now underway, it will explore how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected women in Canada experiencing family and intimate partner violence, including barriers and opportunities they faced when accessing support services. 

This collaborative project has been built out of a longstanding relationship between Paula Barata (Department of Psychology, University of Guelph), Lieran Docherty (Women Abuse Council of Toronto), and Melissa Tanti (Community Engaged Scholarship Institute, University of Guelph). Through it, they will seek to understand why family violence increased during the pandemic and how access to support services was impacted by lockdowns and stay-at-home orders - particularly for young women and mothers. This project will consist of two studies; the first is a literature review to explore how intimate partner violence was impacted and how interventions used during the COVID-19 pandemic worked, and for whom they worked. The second study is an interview-focused project to identify patterns in young women and mothers' experiences of intimate partner violence during the pandemic, with the goal of increasing research and advocacy capacity for community partners, researchers, and women using support services. 

This project is deeply community engaged and will be co-designed with women with lived experience of violence and the community organizations and advocacy groups that serve them. It will include interviews with women who have experienced family violence, directly involving the people who could be most impacted by its findings. Some women will also have the opportunity to create digital stories in collaboration with the Re-Vision Centre for Art and Social Justice to augment the interview data.

Through CESI's involvement, this project will be linked to a variety of Community Engaged Teaching and Learning partnerships, extending it into classrooms and other student training opportunities (e.g. practicums, independent research projects, research assistantships) and engaging the wider U of G campus community. Once complete, this project has the potential to lead to actionable recommendations to improve service delivery and policies that directly affect individuals experiencing family violence.  

Learn more about this project in the full U of G news release.


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