Research Highlights

The Role of Public Policy and Legislation in Prevention of Domestic Violence

  • Shift’s extensive policy review outlines six key areas in which policy could be used as a tool to prevent domestic violence in Alberta, and outlines over 50 recommendations for specific, evidence-informed program and policy amendments and initiatives to enhance the province’s existing family violence strategy. Learn more about the ways that provincial policy, legislation, leadership, and resource allocation can play a role in significantly reducing and ultimately ending domestic violence in How Public Policy and Legislation Can Support the Prevention of Domestic Violence in Alberta
  • While helping women leave abusive relationships is important, research shows that the violence does not always end there. In fact, every hour of every day, a woman in Alberta will undergo some form of interpersonal violence from an ex-partner or ex-spouse. Given the emotional, social and economic costs to individuals, families, and communities, we need to focus on preventing violence before it starts. Shift’s economic evaluation (conducted in partnership with the School of Public Policy) estimates that a 10 percent reduction of family violence through prevention efforts could yield a net cost-benefit of $54 million per year in Alberta. Learn about the kinds of evidence-based programs that have demonstrated social value in Preventing Domestic Violence in Alberta: A Cost Savings Perspective. Alberta Council of Women's Shelters Leading Change Initiative released a PSA that uses data from Shift.
  • This document explores whether material included in the ongoing Statistics Canada General Social Survey can provide the benchmarking and monitoring data needed to determine the success of domestic violence prevention and intervention initiatives in Alberta. Specific recommendations are offered. Read more about Monitoring Domestic Violence in Alberta Using the General Social Survey
  • When liquor stores were privatized in Alberta in 1993, rates of violence involving alcohol rose dramatically, increasing from 40 per cent to 60 per cent in the year after privatization. Rates of spousal and non-spousal homicides involving alcohol also increased, and Alberta’s rates of alcohol-related spousal and non-spousal homicide and general crime are now higher than the national average. Read more about the link between alcohol and violence, and what municipal governments can be doing to reduce alcohol-related harm in The Role of Alcohol Outlet Density in Reducing Domestic Violence in Alberta
  • The chapter The Case for Alcohol Outlet Density Control as a Promising Approach to Prevent Domestic Violence examines how diverse governments have incorporated alcohol policies and strategies into their domestic violence prevention plans and provides examples of alcohol outlet density control measures. Findings show that while most governments acknowledge the connection between alcohol and domestic violence, to date, a majority have not incorporated comprehensive alcohol reduction strategies into their domestic violence prevention plans. Further, even though theoretical evidence suggests that reducing alcohol outlet density may be a promising approach to prevent and reduce domestic violence, there is little evidence of the real-world effectiveness of such policies; as such, additional research and evaluation are needed in this area. Despite such limitations, the emerging body of knowledge on this issue points to a promising leverage point for policy and practice to prevent domestic violence. 

Primary Prevention Programs and Frameworks for Domestic and Sexual Violence

  • Shift conducted a scoping review of domestic violence plans from around the world that identified common theories, strategies and actions that can be found in province/state and community wide plans. This report helped to inform the new Government of Alberta's “Family Violence Hurts Everyone: A Framework to End Family Violence in Alberta”. Read more about Domestic Violence Plans from Around the World
  • This report provides an overview of domestic violence and prevention definitions, risk and protective factors, and focuses particular attention on the domestic and sexual violence primary prevention frameworks being developed locally, nationally and internationally. In addition, the report provides a brief overview of relevant evidence-based practices in violence reduction. Points of consideration are offered in each section, allowing further reflection of the information in consideration of Alberta’s local context. Read more about Domestic and Sexual Violence: A Background Paper on Primary Prevention Programs and Frameworks
  • Shift was asked to research existing Government of Alberta programs and initiatives that could be enhanced or modified to support a reduction in domestic violence rates. As a result of this research, enhancing the Government of Alberta's home visitation program was identified as a key tactic in the prevention of domestic violence. Read more about Home Visitation as a Domestic Violence Prevention Strategy
  • The Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (AASAS) and Shift: The Project to End Domestic Violence acknowledge that domestic violence and sexual violence are interconnected. They have joined together to facilitate a discussion about primary prevention of sexual violence, and to support the development of a sexual violence and sexual health action plan for Alberta. This report has several objectives: 1. To understand the scope of sexual violence both internationally, nationally and locally, as well as the factors that both prevent and contribute to sexual violence; 2. To identify theories and paradigms that are currently being used to understand sexual violence, as well as approaches and models used to develop sexual violence primary prevention strategies in other jurisdictions; and 3. To present the best available research evidence in the area of sexual violence primary prevention that makes sense in the Alberta context. Read more about Primary Prevention of Sexual Violence: Preliminary Research
  • This report was created in partnership by the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (AASAS) and Shift: The Project to End Domestic Violence to facilitate a discussion about primary prevention of sexual violence and to inform the development of a sexual violence and sexual health action plan for Alberta. The purpose of this research is: 1) to present a synopsis of the scoping review of sexual violence plans from around the world; 2) to provide an overview of common elements among all plans reviewed; 3) to identify areas for inclusion in a sexual violence and sexual health action plan for Alberta. Read Scoping Review of Sexual Violence Plans from Around the World

Engaging Men and Boys in Domestic Violence Prevention

  • While domestic violence is largely perpetrated by men, most men do not engage in violence – so it’s time to change the discourse to include the active participation of men as allies in violence prevention. Shift’s men and boys strategy focuses on equipping men and boys with the knowledge, skills and capacities to engage in healthy relationships and stop domestic violence before it starts. Read about the seven key entry points and 67 promising practices for engaging men and boys in violence prevention identified in Shift’s research, Engaging Men and Boys in Domestic Violence Prevention: Promising Approaches
  • This research paper focuses on positive father involvement as an Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) prevention strategy, that is, a strategy to prevent IPV before those behaviors develop in the next generation. The report provides a rationale for new investments in positive father involvement strategies including specific recommendations in the areas of research, policy, and programming. This report is situated within a broader research agenda designed to build a comprehensive strategy to engage men and boys in violence prevention. Read more about Promoting Positive Father Involvement: A Strategy to Prevent Intimate Partner Violence in the Next Generation
  • The entrenched gender dyad of female victim and male perpetrator in domestic violence discourse influences the underlying philosophy and assumptions that guide the design of government policies, programs and community activities and limits long-term, systematic dismantling of socio-cultural conditions that enable violence to exist. The promotion of positive fatherhood is offered as one useful strategy to begin to engage boys and men in domestic violence prevention efforts and to shift broader domestic violence narratives beyond the current gendered conception of vulnerability to domestic violence. Please see a book chapter Overcoming the Gender Dyad: Engaging Men and Boys in Domestic Violence Prevention for more details. 

Domestic Violence Prevention for Gender and Sexual Diverse Communities

  • This report provides an overview of domestic violence within gender and sexually diverse communities, with a focus on Alberta and Canada. Included are specific risk factors for gender and sexually diverse communities, as well as information about barriers to accessing safe and appropriate services. The report highlights areas for prevention, including promising practices aimed at decreasing rates of violence, promoting attitudinal and norms change, and providing safe, welcoming and appropriate domestic violence services. The findings from this report are currently being shared across Alberta with the objective of catalyzing a much-needed discussion about how discrimination, stigma and systemic barriers negatively impact the lives of gender and sexually diverse communities. Read more about Domestic Violence in Alberta’s Gender and Sexually Diverse Communities: Towards a Framework for Prevention

  • This report contains the findings from a series of six consultations that Shift conducted throughout Alberta to better understand risk factors related to domestic violence victimization and perpetration within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) communities, as well as barriers to help-seeking. A total of 81 individuals from across Alberta were involved in the consultations, including representatives from the LGBTQ communities, the domestic violence sector, health services, school systems and law enforcement. Participants agreed that there is a need for improved capacity among government and community-based organizations to provide better services to LGBTQ victims and perpetrators of domestic violence. In particular, many participants noted that a lack of appropriate and informed services presents a significant barrier to LGBTQ individuals who are trying to exit unhealthy relationships and/or violent circumstances. Domestic violence service providers themselves acknowledged the limitations of their knowledge about the unique experiences of LGBTQ individuals; however, these providers also demonstrated a genuine desire to learn about, and improve, the provision of care to prevent domestic violence within the LGBTQ community. Specific recommendations directed at the Government of Alberta and community-based agencies are included. Read more about Consulting the Community on Advancing an LGBTQ Alberta Framework on the Prevention of Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence Prevention for Children and Youth

  • In an effort to support a more strategic, coordinated approach to violence prevention programming in school and community settings, Shift conducted a study of evidence-based programs and coordinated approaches to school-based violence prevention. Our research identified nine principles associated with best practices in violence prevention programming. Learn more about these principles and how they are being implemented in Calgary in Developing a Strategic and Coordinated Approach to Violence Prevention Programming for Children and Youth in Calgary
  • Over the past three years, Shift has worked to understand promising levers for change, and identify programs, practices, policies and initiatives that have been proven effective in preventing and reducing domestic violence. Much research points to children, youth and young adults as a key lever for primary prevention. Most of the precursors of domestic violence occur in childhood and adolescence. Children and youth learn relationship skills and social behaviours from their parents and other family members. A high proportion of children who witness or experience violent relationships in childhood go on to perpetuate these patterns in adulthood with their own children and partners. A Strategy to Promote Healthy Youth Relationships in Alberta to Prevent Domestic Violence is aimed at building and promoting healthy relationships with youth populations across Alberta.

  • Violence prevention programming in schools has proven an effective means of reducing interpersonal violence such as bullying, sexual violence and domestic violence. In Calgary, these types of programs are currently offered by over a dozen different service providers, each having developed or adopted a different approach. The need to coordinate these efforts has long been recognized in this city, with coordination initiatives extending back as far as 2002. To date, however, attempts to develop a more cohesive and strategic approach in Calgary have been unsuccessful. In 2012, Shift: The Project to End Domestic Violence approached two funders – the United Way of Calgary and Area and the City of Calgary’s Family and Community Support Services – to support renewed efforts to coordinate violence prevention programming in this city. The need for coordination was heightened by the fact that Fourth R (Relationship), a teacher delivered evidence-based violence prevention program for youth in grades 7-9, was going to be scaled by Shift across Alberta. Having been alerted to this change in the programming landscape, service providers were eager to come together to consider the implications for their programs. While the project produced a number of good resources for educators and service providers, stakeholder engagement in VPP steadily declined, and the initiative began to lose momentum. As a result, the project was placed on hold in the Spring of 2015, and an evaluation consultant was contracted to gather feedback on the initiative, document learnings, and develop recommendations for next steps. This report offers a brief summary of the findings and recommendations arising from the VPP evaluation.

Domestic Violence Prevention in Ethno-Cultural Communities

  • There is a lack of interpretive research in the domestic violence literature and, in particular, within an ethnocultural context. Interviews were held with four Filipina women in Calgary, Alberta who had previously been in violent relationships, in combination with a referral group of male key informants with leadership and knowledge of community issues related to domestic violence and the Filipino community. By adopting a phenomenological approach to the research, it was hoped that new understandings of what is identified in clinical paradigms as the “risk” and “protective” factors associated with domestic violence would be unearthed. Read more about A Context of Domestic Violence: Learnings from the Calgary Filipino Community

The Role of Informal Supports in Domestic Violence Prevention

  • The issue brief Supporting the Supporters: How Friends and Families Can Help to Prevent Domestic Violence is the first in a series examining effective societal responses to prevent domestic violence. The paper challenges the belief that domestic violence is a private matter between two people and argues that, as a result of that long-held belief, we are ignoring one of the most under-utilized prevention strategies: informal networks. While formal services and supports are critical, research shows that informal networks – including friends and family – play a pivotal role in preventing domestic violence. This issue brief explores the value of informal networks in victims’ lives, how to support those networks to respond to the needs of the victim, the perceived reluctance of many friends and family to intervene in what is often viewed as a private matter, and how organizations that specialize in domestic violence can start to build customized education programs and supports geared toward friends and families, as well as the general public. Considerations outlined in the paper focus on what domestic violence service providers and government can do, suggesting strategies to better support informal networks through intervention and primary prevention activities.
  • This paper describes the Supporting the Supporters to Prevent Domesitc Violence initiative that aimed to understand: 1) the value of informal supports in the lives of those dealing with domestic violence, 2) how best to support informal supports to effectively respond to the needs of the victim, 3) the service provider perspective on the perceived reluctance of friends and families to intervene, 4) the services already being offered to informal supports in Calgary, and 5) how organizations that specialize in domestic violence in Calgary can start to build customized education programs and supports that are geared towards informal supports including the general public to prevent domestic violence. Implications for the service delivery context in Calgary and area. 

Engaging the Media in Domestic Violence Prevention

  • This document is the first step in a larger exploration of how best to engage the Canadian media to influence societal attitudes, norms and behaviours around the prevention of domestic violence. Research shows that the vast majority of the public receives information regarding social issues and world affairs through news media channels. Further, it is suggested that the Canadian news media inappropriately reports on instances of domestic violence, thereby influencing attitudes of the general public and policy makers. This paper suggests that if news media professionals were better educated about domestic violence and how to appropriately report on instances of domestic violence, and legislation encouraged the media to report on domestic violence in a particular way, public opinion and attitudes may be influenced. Read more about Engaging the News Media to Influence Attitudes, Norms and Behaviours and Reduce the Rates of Domestic Violence

Please see SHIFT's research library for a full list of publications.