A Western researcher has found that most domestic homicides are preceded by key risk factors — risk factors that if identified early could save lives.
New research co-led by Western professor Peter Jaffe found 80 per cent of domestic homicides have seven or more risk factors that are known to family, friends, coworkers and front-line professionals. These risk factors include prior domestic abuse, stalking, separation or substance abuse.
The researchers sought to identify risk factors among populations that are particularly at risk for domestic homicide. Indigenous women, immigrant refugee women, women who live in northern rural areas and children are all vulnerable populations, according to Jaffe, who's also the director of Western's Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children.
“We do the work to save lives. Domestic homicides are preceded by warning signs that are often overlooked or not understood by friends, family, coworkers and for many professionals,” Jaffe said.
In addition, Jaffe is co-directing the first Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Conference with the University of Guelph's Myrna Dawson. The conference is centred around a series of workshops that study different fields relating to domestic homicide, each led by different professionals. It kicked off on Wednesday at the London Convention Centre, drawing 450 researchers, policy makers and representatives from more than 60 organizations.
“The purpose of the conference is to share the information and to enhance our strategies for dealing with the problems across the country.”
Helping Jaffe and Dawson tackle problems across the country is a $2.2 million, five-year research grant from the Social Science Humanities Research Council of Canada. Jaffe said they're working to develop a national database that will give insights about domestic homicide risk factors as well as developing better risk assessment tools for victims and risk management for abusers.
Beyond the research, another part of the grant is earmarked for educating students and making sure the research findings on domestic violence achieve broad outreach.
Mohammad Baobaid and Abir Al Jamal also led a workshop, “Preventing Homicide in Collectivist Communities,” at the conference on Wednesday. Baobaid is the executive director for the Muslim Resource Centre for Social Support and Integration. His research presentation focused around the cultural contexts of domestic violence, especially women in collectivist communities.
Boabaid discussed the challenges these women face when trying to seek help because of potential isolation from the community.
“It’s important because we are coming together to find ways to save lives,” Boabaid said. “Domestic violence that would lead to domestic homicide is a real problem in our society. We need to raise awareness and bring all the people engaged and involved in this kind of work together to do something.”