Supporting the Health of Survivors of Family Violence in Family Law Proceedings



This project is funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada and is designed to address the unique need of survivors of family violence within the family justice system. Canada’s research centres on violence against women will initiate, host and support a Community of Practice (CoP) comprised of family violence experts, survivors, family lawyers, researchers, mental health, and social service professionals .

The overarching goal of the project is to enhanced support to survivors of violence through the family law system by increasing opportunities for family law practitioners to have training, guidance and resources to support trauma-informed practice, and to improve coordination of services that will enhance the safety and wellbeing of all parties.

Major goals for the project (November 2020 and November 2023) include the following: 

  1. Foster communication, collaboration and build relationship among experts from the family violence and family law sectors; 
  2. Develop and disseminate evidence-based guidance and resources to address issues crossing these areas of concern;
  3. Provide learning opportunities to build capacity of practitioners in the field of violence prevention and family law; 
  4. Promote research and evaluation initiatives to examine effective strategies for helping victims, perpetrators and their children receive the interventions they need from family court proceedings;
  5. Support sustained knowledge mobilization in the field.



  1. Develop guidance and information resources for dealing with COVID-19 and family violence victims involved in custody and access disputes that respect regional differences, and diverse realities.
  2. Develop guidance and information resources on critical issues related to risk assessment, safety planning and risk management strategies for family violence victims in family court, critical issues related to risk assessment, safety planning and risk management strategies for family violence victims in family court.
  3. Develop guidance and information resources on trauma-informed interventions for family violence victims in family court.
  4. Regional and National webinars on issues around risk assessment and supervised access provided by team of legal and family violence experts together with survivor.

Click here to visit the Alliance website


To learn more about the projects at each centre, click below:

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Bridging the Gap between the needs of survivors of family violence and the realities of family court

This webinar took place on December 15, 2020 

Click here to access the recording:


This webinar addresses:
  • challenges survivors of family violence face when seeking safety and support in the family court.
  • barriers survivors face due to the nature of trauma they have suffered and the many demands of the adversarial system from a legal and psychological perspective. 
  • how court-related professionals and the system can become trauma informed. 
  • promising practices.


Pamela Cross

pamela-cross.jpgPamela Cross is a feminist lawyer; a well-known and respected expert on violence against women and the law for her work as a researcher, writer, educator and trainer. She works with women’s equality and violence against women organizations across Ontario.

One of her key roles is as the Legal Director of Luke’s Place Support and Resource Centre in Durham Region, where she leads the organization’s provincial projects, including research, training and advocacy.

With Luke’s Place, Pamela has written a number of papers on the topic of violence against women and family law. With funding from the federal Department of Justice, she led a team that conducted research into the use of family violence screening tools for family law practitioners. The final report, entitled “What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You: The importance of family violence screening tools for family law practitioners”, includes a draft screening tool.

In her role as Luke’s Place Legal Director, Pamela is the lead trainer for Ontario’s Family Court Support Workers, providing both in-person and online training and support for approximately 100 frontline workers who assist abused women in family court. She recently completed the delivery of domestic violence awareness training to approximately 2,500 Legal Aid Ontario staff, community clinics and lawyers across the province. She was also Co-Chair of the Violence Against Women Roundtable, which provided guidance to the provincial government on this issue.

Pamela also works with a number of other provincial and national women’s organizations, including the National Association of Women and the Law and the Canadian Council of Muslim Women.

Pamela is the 2020 recipient of the Corry Award from Queen’s Law, the 2019 recipient of both the Laura Legge Award from the Law Society of Ontario and the Guthrie Award from the Law Foundation of Ontario, and a 2015 recipient of the Attorney General’s Victim Services Award of Distinction for her work on the issue of violence against women. In 2006, she was awarded the YWCA Toronto Women of Distinction award for her work in the area of law reform.

To learn more visit or follow her on twitter @pamelacross541

Linda Baker

linda baker photoDr. Linda Baker is a Psychologist, Adjunct Professor, and the Learning Director of the Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children at Western University. She is proud to lead the Learning Network and the Knowledge Hub. The Learning Network translates knowledge on the continuum of gender-based violence and the Knowledge Hub facilitates a trauma- and violence-informed community of practice with Canadian researchers and practitioners conducting innovative intervention research. She has over 25 years of experience in the mental health and justice system, working with and learning from children, youth and families dealing with experiences of violence and trauma. Her direct service experience inspires and informs her research and commitment to knowledge translation through resource development and publications, knowledge exchange activities, and workshop presentations. Prior to her current roles, Dr. Baker was the Director of the Centre for Children and Families in the Justice System (London Family Court Clinic). She participates regularly on faculty teams delivering Domestic Violence Institutes throughout the United States for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and Futures Without Violence. 

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