The lives of GSD individuals and communities are rich with complexities stemming from, in part, the social positioning within a heteronormative patriarchal societal structure. Due to these complexities and their relationship to domestic violence, Shift has identified a need to bring forward research regarding the nuances of domestic violence within GSD populations, and inspire appropriate actions to address this complex issue.

Our Response

In 2012, Shift engaged in a scoping review of peer reviewed and grey literature sources with three objectives in mind:

  1. Investigate the risk factors specific to domestic violence perpetration and victimization in GSD;
  2. Identify the barriers to help-seeking that present challenges to GSD individuals trying to exit unhealthy relationships; and,
  3. Develop a database of the existing literature on the subject area.

The research was summarized in a 2014 report titled: Domestic Violence in Alberta’s Gender and Sexually Diverse Communities: Towards a Framework for Prevention. Included in the report is a conceptual framework detailing how general domestic violence risk factors and unique gender and sexually diverse-specific risk factors can compound, resulting in increased experiences of victimization and perpetration of violence. In addition, the framework outlines the ways that structural violence can create barriers for individuals who are attempting to exit unhealthy relationships where violence is present.

In addition to the report, we released an issue brief titled: Preventing Domestic Violence in LGBTQ Communities: Understanding How Discrimination, Stigma and Social Exclusion are barriers to Healthy Relationships. The purpose of the issue brief is to contribute to the discourse regarding a primary prevention approach to domestic violence within Alberta’s GSD communities.

In 2015, we released a report titled: Consulting the Community on Advancing an LGBTQ Alberta Framework on the Prevention of Domestic Violence. The report was based on a series of six provincial consultations aimed at improving our understanding of risk factors related to domestic violence victimization and perpetration within GSD communities, as well as barriers to help-seeking.

Moving forward, Shift will continue to advocate to the provincial government to create a plan to address the structural challenges that negatively impact the lives of GSD Albertans. It is our hope that this plan will build on identified strengths and target the key areas for improvement that emerged in the community consultation process, such as improving supports for GSD youth and their parents (Congrats Alberta on Bill 24), improving human service organizational cultures to be more safe and inclusive, and increasing the networking and connectivity between service providers working both within the domestic violence sector and GSD organizations. Advancing this next step will be in coordination with key government and community stakeholders and leaders.