Family Violence on the Farm and in Rural Communities Research Team Exploring the Link Between Firearms, Family Violence and Animal Abuse in Selected Rural Communities in NB and PEI

Report on Research as of May 31, 2009

The goal of this research project was toexplore the link between family violence, firearms and animal abuse, with a focus on rural communities in New Brunswick and PEI, was completed this fiscal year.

Dissemination of the findings of the family violence, firearms and animal abuse study in collaborative and consultative fashion was a major achievement of our research objectives.  Another impressive accomplishment in 2008-2009 relates to the impact of our research findings on knowledge-based practice. Many front line service providers, government officials and law enforcement who participated at our forum indicated they will, or already have, changed their practice to introduce screening questions about pet/animal abuse and are asking more questions about indirect firearms victimization. The Firearms Offices in NB and PEI have now incorporated questions about animal abuse when they have reason to conduct investigations of applicants. Many crisis workers are using the findings to ask questions about firearms victimization because they are more cognizant of the risk that hunting rifles and shotguns pose in homes experiencing family violence.

The Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick obtained funding from Status of Women Canada to partner with the Family Violence Outreach Coordinator (Patty Michaud, a member of the research team) in the Miramichi to pilot a provincial public awareness campaign that is based on “key messages” extracted from the research. The goal is to reach women, as well as their friends, family, neighbours, co-workers and professionals in the community with safety and risk assessment messages that reflect on firearms safety and pet abuse. The connection to our research findings and evidence-based public awareness products is strongly emphasized – see examples of articles: To read more about the public awareness campaign click here .

Achievements from May 1st 2008- May 31th 2009

  • A communication strategy was developed and implemented over the summer of 2008, to disseminate the research findings proactively to research participants and partners, the public generally, family violence stakeholders, as well as policy makers and academic researchers. Download the Communication Report.
  • In addition to writing scholarly articles, making invited presentations at conferences and workshops (see list below), and meeting with government officials, we conducted a mail out of the executive summary in English and French to transition houses, victim services, Crown prosecutors, police/RCMP, Veterinarians and animal welfare groups, and many other stakeholders in domestic violence intervention and prevention.  The Executive Summary is available in English and French on the websites of the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre and the Advisory Council on the Status of Women.
  • A brainstorming “forum” was held in May 2008 with our research partners and other invited stakeholders to reflect on the research findings. This enabled us to explore suggestions on how agencies might incorporate the findings into their own practice and programs and assist in moving the recommendations forward. Download the Forum Report.


  • Doherty, D and Hornosty, J., (May 10, 2008), “Family Violence and Firearms: Contexualizing Fear in Rural Communities”, Invited paper presented at the 2nd International Conference on Sociology, Athens Institute for Education and Research, Athens, Greece.
  • Doherty, D. and Hornosty, J. (May 24, 2008), “Understanding the Culture of Firearms from Abused Rural Women’s Perspectives,” Invited presentation to The 25th Qualitative Analysis Conference, UNB, Fredericton, NB.

Conference Presentations

  • Hornosty, Jennie, (June 4, 2008) “Understanding Family Violence When Firearms are Present:  The Perspectives of Abused Rural Women”.  Paper presented at the Canadian Sociology Association Annual Meetings, Families II Session, Vancouver, B.C..

Doherty, D and Hornosty, J made the following presentations:

  • (May 23, 2008), “Experiences of Abused Rural Women in N.B. and P.E.I.: Understanding the Nature and Extent of Firearms Victimization”, Presentation to the Coordinating Team of the new specialized Domestic Violence Court in Moncton. Participants included the Judge, Crown prosecutor, probation services, victim services, legal aid, and others.
  • (May 26, 2008),”Family Violence, Firearms and Animal Abuse”, Presentation to a Forum on the Research Findings, Fredericton, NB


  • Doherty, D and Hornosty, J., (May 30 2008) Report on the Communication and Dissemination of Findings of a Research Study: Exploring the Links: Family Violence, Firearms and Animal Abuse in Rural Communities, Canada Firearms Centre, Ottawa.
  • Doherty, D and Hornosty, J., (May 30 2008). Forum Report: Discussing Research Findings and Promoting Action (Family Violence, Firearms and Animal Abuse in Rural Communities), Report for the Canada Firearms Centre, Ottawa.

Articles and Book Chapters

  • Doherty D. & Hornosty, J., (May 2008) “La culture des armes a feu en milieu rural: impact sur la violence contre les femmes”, Violences faites aux femmes, Eds. S. Arcand, D. Damant, S. Gravel and E. Harper, Les Presses de l’Université du Quebec (PUQ).    [Note: This collective work is based on selected articles presented at an international family violence conference in 2006.  It includes 23 chapters in French or in English, by 44 authorsfrom a dozen countries. La culture des armes à feu en milieu rural: impact sur la violence contre les femmes by Drs. Doherty and Hornosty was selected as the first chapter of the book. To view the abstracts from this book, click here:  Information on obtaining this book can be found at:]
  • Doherty D. & Hornosty, J., (2008) “Family Violence, Firearms and Animal Abuse” in The Latham Letter, Summer 2008: 14-17.
  • Doherty D. & Hornosty, J., (2009) “Exploring the Links: Family Violence, Firearms and Animal Abuse” in RMCP Gazette, Vol. 70, No.4:3.
  • Exploring the Links: Firearms, Family Violence and  Animal Abuse in Rural Communities
    Download Executive summary
  • Étude des liens entre les armes à feu, la violence familiale et la violence envers les animaux dans les collectivités rurales. Télécharger le sommaire

For further information related to this project, please contact the co-principal investigators:

Dr. Deborah Doherty
(Co-Principal Investigator)
Public Legal Education &
Information Service, NB
Phone: (506) 453-7958
Fax:     (506) 462-5193

Dr. Jennie Hornosty
(Co-Principal Investigator)
Professor, Department of Sociology
University of New Brunswick
Phone: (506) 458-7445
Fax:     (506) 453-4659



NB Coalition of Transition Houses; PEI Transition House Association; the 13 Transitions Houses in New Brunswick; Anderson House PEI;  Victim Services, PEI;  RCMP “J” Division;  Chief Firearms Officers;

Team Members and Research Assistants

Our research team partners include the New Brunswick Coalition of Transition Houses, the PEI Transition House Association, Victim Services – Fredericton City Police and PEI Victim Services. Others from New Brunswick and PEI were consulted and offered support and collaboration including the SPCA, the PEI Veterinarian Hospital, the Chief Firearms Officers for New Brunswick and PEI, the RCMP, and PEI outreach workers.

Research Assistants and Students

The research assistants on the project this past year have included:  Emily Bell, Amy Cote, Kerri Gibson, Janice Fuller, Gillian McGinnis, Brenda Norton, Sonya Smith and Melissa St. Pierre