Our Work

We have made invaluable contributions to research and practice in the areas of understanding violence against women & children, working from an intersectional perspective, preventing domestic homicide, creating safe schools, helping children exposed to violence, responding to sexual violence, implementing trauma informed practices and addressing gendered workplace harassment and violence.  

Our research and education initiatives have informed government policy, most notably in the areas of supporting children exposed to domestic violence, enhancing capacity for professionals to assess risk, training for health care, social services, education and justice professionals to increase awareness, assessment and intervention strategies for survivors of abuse, and labour legislation to provide support to survivors of survivors of domestic violence in their workplace.

Research Priorities

The Centre initiates and seeks funding for projects relating to the following themes:

  • Healthy relationships
  • Violence and its impact on health and well being
  • Gender inequality and its interactions with:
    • Racism
    • Ableism
    • Homophobia
    • Classism
    • Ageism
    • or other forms of social exclusion

The Centre conducts research and education that is relevant to practice, policy development and legislative reform:

  • Families and intimate relationships
  • Justice systems
  • Educational systems
  • Health and mental health care systems
  • Social service systems
  • Workplaces
  • Communities and community institutions
  • Anti-violence agencies

Activities and Approaches


  • Participatory approaches
  • Diverse research methodologies, including qualitative and quantitative designs
  • Program development and evaluation
  • Identification of emerging issues and important debates
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration among community and academic researchers
  • Dissemination of research findings: locally, provincially, nationally, internationally


  • Public awareness
  • Professional development
  • Multidisciplinary curriculum development and implementation for undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs

Community Development:

  • To build capacity for the development and implementation of anti-violence initiatives
  • To support community-based programs
  • To promote promising practices

Violence Against Women & Mass Shootings

We Stand with Nova Scotia

Violence against women is a threat to us all 

Peter Jaffe, Barb MacQuarrie, Linda Baker and Myrna Dawson
Contributed to the Globe and Mail
April 28, 2020

View PDF | View Webpage

Peter Jaffe, Barb MacQuarrie and Linda Baker are co-directors of the Faculty of Education’s Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children (CREVAWC) at Western University.

Myrna Dawson is director of the Centre for the Study of Social and Legal Responses to Violence, and a professor of sociology at the University of Guelph.

We remain in shock over the mass homicides in Nova Scotia and are overwhelmed with grief for the victims. Our hearts go out to their families and all Nova Scotians as they deal with this nightmare. A final report from this complex investigation is months away, and a public inquiry is likely years away. Full consensus about the perpetrator’s motives may never be reached.

The four of us have each spent more than 30 years conducting research and educating the public on the issue of violence against women. Many of our efforts followed a national cry for action after Canada’s previous deadliest mass killing: the 1989 massacre at l’École Polytechnique, in which a man who blamed women for his problems killed 14 women and injured 14 others.

It is now clear that the Nova Scotia mass murder began with domestic violence. Five days into the case, the RCMP confirmed that the killings were preceded by an act of violence against the killer’s partner, who narrowly escaped. This matters in the aftermath of the tragedy, as we are left with important questions: What were the warning signs? Who knew what, and when? There are indications that the killer had a troubled history, including reports of jealous and obsessive behaviour toward his partner.

Our national research has identified patterns of risk for domestic homicide that appear consistent with emerging information about this case: Women are most in danger of violence at the hands of their intimate partners. Risk escalates when their ex-partner is jealous and controlling, and when they have access to firearms. An inability to maintain employment, which in this case may be related to COVID-19, may increase risk.

Domestic homicides rarely happen out of the blue. Alongside well-known risk factors, we also see missed opportunities for the public and professionals to intervene. In this case, friends and neighbours report a troubled, possessive man who was losing control of his life.

Between 2010 and 2018, there were at least 662 victims of domestic homicide in Canada – more than 70 victims per year on average. Nationally, 80 per cent of adult victims of domestic homicide are women, and according to a 2017 Statistics Canada report, the risk of intimate partner homicide was nearly five times greater for women than men. Perpetrators often target third parties, such as new partners, children, extended family, professionals who have intervened, including police officers, and in some cases even strangers.

Research has already found links between mass killings and domestic violence. U.S. national data on mass shootings over the past decade found that in more than half of the cases an intimate partner or family member numbered among the victims. One in four perpetrators had a prior history of domestic violence.

Perpetrators of mass killings are predominantly men with misogynist attitudes who believe everyone else is responsible for their problems. They are often single or estranged white men who kill with firearms after substantial thought and planning. Both the 1989 tragedy and the Nova Scotia case fit a common picture of mass murder: an insecure man perceives himself as a victim of wrongdoing and harms others to restore his lost power. He attempts to restore his status through mass murder in a culture where power and control are equated with violence. While there are no easy fixes to this complex problem, we must continue to recognize and explicitly name the issue. In 1989, Canadians argued over whether the killer was a “madman” or just motivated by misogyny. We need a different starting point in 2020. If men seeking to assert dominance are at the core of male violence against women and mass murder, it’s time to rally our political will and commit to addressing the problem.

Male violence against women puts all men, women and children at risk. Domestic violence endangers everyone. A future public inquiry into the killings in Nova Scotia will have to attempt to answer many questions. How do we prevent deaths in similar circumstances in the future? What warning signs were missed and what interventions could have saved lives? To honour the lives lost in Nova Scotia, we all need to redouble our efforts. The whole community has to be part of the solution. It’s time to use what we know and take real action.

More responses to the tragic events of April 18-19, 2020:


Resources on past events involving violence
against women & mass shootings in Canada:

COVID-19 and Violence Against Women & Children

Violence against women and children represents one of the most significant societal issues that endangers Canadians' health and well-being. COVID-19 has made these problems more severe. The increased risks of harm and vulnerability of abused women and children is obvious. International research has documented the increase in domestic violence and child abuse during crises such as the current pandemic.

Social distancing and isolation means that victims have less access to the support of friends and family and reduced availability of police and health care. Many victims and children are now isolated with the very individuals who abuse them. That increases their daily exposure to potential abuse and produces new means of control for abusive partners and parents.

Organizations across Canada that work to end violence against women and children are responding to this crisis with the support of new federal and provincial/territorial government funding. There has been a rapid response to search for and to promote innovative strategies to cope with this pandemic. The Centre has been part of several initiatives to support services, enhance public and professional education, support workplaces and  develop research on effective community responses.

We will post updates on our initiatives here:

CREVAWC Initiatives

Learning Network Backgrounder: COVID-19 & Gender-based Violence in Canada:  Key Issues and Recommendations
This backgrounder examines how COVID-19 may create pathways and barriers leading to gender-based violence and violence against women and children.  It highlights key recommendations for responding to these issues, with a specific focus on the Canadian context.  

DV@Work Network Briefings
A series of short briefings intended for stakeholders from the world of work (companies, employers, business associations, workers and trade unions). These briefings are also relevant for the policies and actions of international organisations, government agencies, NGOs and domestic violence support organisations.

Learning Network Backgrounder: Keep Children Safe from Online Sexual Exploitation & Abuse During the Pandemic
This backgrounder examines potential increased risks for online sexual exploitation and abuse of children during the COVID-19 pandemic and provides strategies for parents to keep children safe.

Learning Network Resources on Gender-Based Violence and the COVID-19 Pandemic
This Learning Network webpage is a centralized hub for resources related to Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and the COVID-19 pandemic. It shares the work of organizations across Canada, as well as key international research.

Learning Network BackGrounder: Keeping Children Safe Suring the COVID-19 Pandemic
This backgrounder shares important considerations and strategies for keeping children who may be at an increased risk of experiencing abuse or maltreatment safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Learning Network Infographic: Intimate Partner Violence in a Pandemic: COVID-19-Related Controlling Behaviours
This infographic shares how the control and intimidation tactics already used by partners who cause harm, can be compounded by their use of COVID-19-related controlling behaviours.

Learning Network Infographic: 3 Considerations for Supporting Women Experiencing Intimate Partner Violence During the COVID-19 Pandemic
This infographic shares three considerations when supporting women experiencing intimate partner violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.

MIOB Blog Post: How Employers Can Help when Home Isn’t Safe: Domestic Violence and COVID-19
As the spread of COVID-19 forces Canadians to stay home, people who live with an abusive parent or partner are at increased risk of violence. Employers have a role to play in ensuring that their employees stay as safe as possible...

NFF Blog Post: Domestic Violence as Contagion
In Nova Scotia, reporting on the massacre of twenty-two people revealed that the attacks started with the violent assault of the killer’s girlfriend. Even after that critical information was released, the connection between the mass killing and domestic violence is not being made clearly and consistently...

NFF Blog Post: The Impact of Coronavirus on Victims of Family Violence
The recent worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 has brought about something that most of us have never seen before: a near complete shut-down of daily life as we know it. Schools and daycare centres have been shuttered; restaurants, nightclubs, concert halls, and other businesses have been forced to close their doors; some companies are having employees work from home, while others have laid off workers indefinitely. While these closures are necessary in order to stop a devastating spread of this virus, there is a stark and equally devastating side effect to this reality that many people are fortunate enough to know nothing about: an increase in family violence...

Pandemic Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children

COVID-19 and Ending Violence Against Women and Girls
UN Women

COVID-19 and violence against women What the health sector/system can do
World Health Organization

Domestic Abuse: How to respond?

Gender and COVID-19
World Health Organization

Pandemics and Violence Against Women and Children
Amber Peterman, Alina Potts, Megan O’Donnell, Kelly Thompson, Niyati Shah, Sabine Oertelt-Prigione, and Nicole van Gelder

Violence against women and girls data collection during COVID-19
UN Women

CREVAWC Responds - Media Articles

The Curve Podcast: Episode #2 - Rise in Violence
June 1, 2020  |  The Curve Podcast

Shut In and Shut Out: Domestic violence under lockdown
May 25, 2020  |  Justice For All

“He was a psychopath”
May 12, 2020  |  Halifax Examiner

The devastating impact of COVID-19 on victims of family violence: Where to find help in Arnprior, Renfrew
May 12, 2020  |  Cindy Chen

The convergence of two pandemics
May 6, 2020  |  The Chronical Herald

Webinar Recording: Domestic Violence in the Workplace: Ensuring Everyone Is Safe
April 22, 2020  |  Barb MacQuarrie

It's not a war, it's an education
April 7, 2020  |  Halifax Examiner

Not all find comfort while ‘safe at home’
March 29, 2020  |  Nadine Wathen

Rates of domestic, family violence increase in a crisis like Covid-19. But people and communities can still support those at risk
March 28, 2020  |  Halifax Examiner

Domestic Violence and COVID-19
March 25, 2020  |  CBC Listen, Afternoon Drive with Chris dela Torre

Women's advocates fear an uptick in domestic violence from COVID-19
March 25, 2020  |  CBC News

Self-isolation directives increase risk for women facing domestic violence, expert warns
March 23, 2020  |  The Globe and Mail