Sexual Violence Research Team

The Sexual Violence Research Team was approved as a standing team of the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre (MMFC) in April 2014 by the MMFC Board of Directors. The team’s coordinators are Sue McKenzie-Mohr (Academic Coordinator), Associate Professor, St. Thomas University and Lorraine Whalley (Community Coordinator), Executive Director, Fredericton Sexual Assault Crisis Centre.

A small but significant emerging body of research pertaining to sexual violence demonstrates how factors such as ability, sexuality, culture and language, and geography shape women’s subjective experiences of sexual violence in ways that are varied and grounded in their unique positionings. Further, studies exploring the complexities of sexual violence as a research subject point to the ways that social attitudes and beliefs about these forms of violence as well as languaging and discursive framings influence the nature of data collected. As one case in point, sexual violence by husbands and intimate partners continues to often be framed as normative sex, is minimized, and is under-reported despite that rape by intimate partners can be as, or more, violent than rape by strangers, particularly when other forms of domestic violence are present (Moller, Backstrom, Sondergaard & Helstrom, 2012; Stermac, Del Bove & Addison, 2001).

The goal of the Sexual Violence Research Team is to extend the current body of research in order to inform continuing efforts to implement effective prevention and educational initiatives as well as measures to respond when sexual violence occurs. The team strives to participate in context-rich examinations of women’s diverse experiences that attend to unique challenges posed by this research subject in order that we may more aptly understand this serious societal issue and thus more confidently make recommendations for reform.

The purpose and goals of the team meet the stated mandate of the MMFC, in that the team’s research will involve collaboration amongst university-based researchers, service providers, policy makers, representatives of groups interested in sexual violence against women, and importantly women who have direct experience with sexual violence. Further, team initiatives will involve action-oriented research efforts to inform service and policy innovation related to this issue, and contribute to community mobilization efforts.

The team presented at the MMFC Annual General Meeting in September and at the National Conference: Integrated Approaches to Intimate Partner Violence, October 20-22, 2014 on Developing a Textured Account of Women’s Sexual Violence Experiences in New Brunswick: Challenges and Strategies.

The team is currently working with the Fredericton Sexual Assault Crisis Centre (FSACC) on a project funded by the Status of Women Canada that aspires to better understand needs of women with unwanted sexual experiences in their search for support from their communities (project lead: Maggie Crain, FSACC). In June, FSACC invited the Sexual Violence Research Team to partner with them in order to conduct the research portion of this broader project. This research involves studying:

A. Existing institutional mechanisms, supports, and gaps in response to sexual violence in Fredericton, New Brunswick as identified by service providers and women who have had unwanted sexual experiences, and
B. Potential promising practices for responding to sexual violence in Fredericton that can be piloted through this project.

Research Team Members (at this time)

  • Rina Arseneault, Associate Director, MMFC, UNB
  • Sue McKenzie-Mohr (Academic Coordinator): Associate Professor, St. Thomas University
  • Jennifer Richard, Director of Community Development, Fredericton Sexual Assault Crisis Centre (FSACC)
  • Lorraine Whalley (Community Coordinator): Executive Director, FSACC
  • Erin Whitmore, Program Developer, FSACC