Research

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The mandate of the MMFC is to undertake activities that will contribute broadly to the elimination of family violence from our society.  The MMFC provides a regional and a national focus for academic research in the field of family violence and actively seeks the participation of researchers from across the country in carrying out its mandate.

Definition of Family Violence

The definition of the term “family violence” used by the MMFC is: “Family” refers to a grouping of individuals who are related by affection, kinship, and/or dependency and/or trust.  “Family violence” is defined to encompass the abuse of children, youths, elderly persons, disabled persons or a partner in a family grouping as defined above.  It can take the form of intimidation, deprivation and/or financial exploitation as well as emotional and sexual abuse and physical assault.

Research Mandate

  • Collaboration among university-based researchers, policy makers, service providers and representatives of groups interested in family violence and violence against women;
  • Action-oriented research that focuses on projects with joint goals of research, service and policy innovation.

MMFC Objectives

  • Conduct and encourage practice and policy-relevant research in the areas of family violence and violence against women;
  • Provide educational input to various community constituencies and students with regard to the development of research skills;
  • Focus on the dissemination of research findings to various target groups to influence their policies or practices.

The research agenda of the MMFC is continually evolving. Therefore, the MMFC always welcomes suggestions for new research projects.  Individuals or groups who are interested in conducting research under the auspices of the MMFC are encouraged to contact the Director or Associate Director.

"To view the MMFC'S Strategic Priorities 2016-2021 click here. A copy of the Strategic Planning Working Committee Report is available upon request."

Conducting Research at the MMFC

  • Research team of the MMFC: A research team of the MMFC is comprised of a group of both academic and community members with an interest in research on family violence and/or violence against women and children.
  • Research project of the MMFC: Research projects of the MMFC are conducted under the leadership of the Director or Associate Director or someone designated by the Director.
  • Research project affiliated with the MMFC:  Research projects affiliated with the MMFC can be led by one researcher or a group of people with an interest in research on family violence and/or violence against women and children.

For more information on research at the MMFC, please view our Research Policy Document:

MMFC Research Fellows

Dr. Diane Crocker is Professor of Criminology and Sociology at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Her research areas include restorative justice, rape culture, violence against women, criminal harassment and the use of law to address social problems, particularly those that disproportionately affect women.

Dr. Crocker gave a presentation at the MMFC’s 2017 AGM about her research exploring how university students understand, negotiate and make meaning of "rape culture." Using a form of narrative research, the work is informing government and university responses to campus sexual violence in Nova Scotia.

 In a new project, Dr. Crocker will be using a form of participatory narrative research to explore what "justice" means to those who have experienced gender-based violence. Three research questions guide the project:

  • What does justice look like for those who experience gender-based violence?
  • What principles and values must underpin any processes or outcomes for gender-based violence victims to experience them as "just"?
  • How can an improved understanding of these victims' sense of justice motivate effective system change?

This project is being undertaken in partnership with Be the Peace Institute, a small not-for-profit organization based on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. The project will involve workshops with victims and stakeholders will help deduce "justice values" from their stories.

 In addition to this project, Dr. Crocker has embarked on a five year evaluation of Circles of Support and Accountability (www.cosa.ca), a community based program that supports the reintegration of high risk sex offenders back into the community.

Dr. Linda C. Neilson, Professor Emerita at UNB, unb web link, is a recognized academic authority on legal systems and domestic violence and long-time contributor to the mandate of the MMFC. She serves regularly as academic advisor on domestic-violence and court-related cross-sector government committees. Recent works include Parental Alienation Empirical Analysis: Child Best Interests or Parental Rights?(Fredericton: Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research and Vancouver: The FREDA Centre for Research on Violence Against Women and Children), Enhancing Safety: When Domestic Violence Cases are in Multiple Legal Systems published by the federal Department of Justice, and the national public legal information e-book, based on her domestic violence bench books for the National Judicial Institute, titled Responding to Domestic Violence in Family Law, Civil Protection & Child Protection Cases published online by the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII).

Dr. Neilson, together with Joanne Boucher, the court coordinator of the specialized domestic violence stream of the Provincial Court in Moncton, New Brunswick, and judicial advisors from both court sectors, Provincial Court Judge Anne Dugas-Horsman (supernumerary) and Queen’s Bench Justice Brigitte Robichaud (supernumerary), have created a collaborative-action-oriented research project to design and pilot in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada’s first coordinated family violence model spanning the criminal, family, civil and child protection legal systems as well as the Provincial and Queen’s Bench Court jurisdictions. The project has the support of the New Brunswick Minister of Justice and Public Safety. The goals are to improve information exchange and to reduce legal system fragmentation. The project has the potential to contribute to the development of similar models across the country, thus improving responses to vulnerable women, children and families in New Brunswick and beyond.

Dr. Ardath Whynacht, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Mount Allison University in Sackville, Nova Scotia, specializes in critical criminology, feminist and queer theory, mental health and trauma, new materialism, public engagement in science, sociology of science, and youth culture.  She is a member of the Canadian Sociological Association’s Violence & Society Research Cluster and teaches regularly in the Federal prison system. 

 Dr. Whynacht is currently conducting SSHRC-funded research on transformative justice for intimate partner and family violence.  The project specifically looks at non-criminal justice interventions and/or community work that falls outside the mandate of policing.  She frequently contributes commentary to media on the problems of intimate partner and sexual violence.