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Annual Report

Pioneering intimate partner violence research

From left, Barrie Police Chief Chief Kimberley Greenwood, UNB sociology researcher Dr. Carmen Gill and Fredericton Police Chief Leanne Fitch.

Backed by more than $3 million in federal funding, UNB’s Dr. Kelly Scott-Storey is co-leading a team of researchers across Canada and into the U.S. in examining the effectiveness of iHEAL, an emerging model of care for those who have suffered domestic abuse.

“iHEAL is about focusing on the woman, and helping her to gain strength and knowledge, and to improve health in order to heal and move forward in her life,” says Dr. Scott-Storey, associate professor of nursing at UNB.

With iHEAL, community health nurses work one-on-one with women to guide recovery, helping them not only access appropriate services but ensure that there is a strong focus on personal health and healing.

A lifeline for domestic abuse survivors

Early evaluations suggest the intervention is effective, with women have describing iHEAL as “a lifeline” and “life changing.”

“Women have told us that it has helped them be stronger, more capable, determined, knowledgeable and better connected to existing services,” Dr. Scott-Storey says. “And I know from a health perspective, women’s mental health has certainly improved. The number of women with clinical symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression have declined after going through iHEAL.”

Dr. Scott-Storey is working with project co-leads Dr. Marilyn Ford-Gilboe of the University of Western Ontario and Dr. Colleen Varcoe at the University of British Columbia as well as colleagues from UNB, McMaster University, the Université de Montréal, and Johns Hopkins University on the research, funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The five-year project will deliver iHEAL sessions to women from both rural and urban communities in New Brunswick, Ontario and British Columbia and evaluate the intervention’s effectiveness. A main objective of iHEAL is to help women develop a capacity to address the intrusiveness of violence in their life.

Dr. Scott-Storey believes that women’s health can be improved with better partnerships between health service providers and domestic violence services.

She’s not the only one. Many academics in the UNB community, including the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research, are steadfastly working to solve the societal issue of family violence.

“I salute our researchers’ role in this important research on improving how Canada responds to victims of domestic violence,” says Dr. David MaGee, acting vice-president of research at the University of New Brunswick.

Partnership in combatting intimate partner violence

Among the dedicated researchers is Dr. Carmen Gill, professor of sociology at UNB and leader of the Canadian Observatory on the Justice System’s Response to Intimate Partner Violence, developed the National Framework on Collaborative Police Action on Intimate Partner Violence.

The framework is being rolled out across Canada as a guide to police leaders and community stakeholders to better inform agency policy development. It will assist policing to provide better service to victims of intimate partner violence and create safer communities in doing so.

Family violence accounts for more than a quarter of all police-reported violence crime in Canada. The framework provides guiding principles to police forces on how to deal with such cases, from the moment of dispatch to handling children at risk to preparing the case with the Crown.

“The national framework is a unique initiative that clearly illustrates the essential importance of partnership and collaboration in intimate partner violence intervention,” says Dr. Gill. “This is important work that is innovative in both approach and structure. We are committed to focusing on lens of shared responsibility and approach in making families and communities safe.”