Ramona Alaggia, Associate Professor, Factor-Inwentash Chair in Children’s Mental Health
Violence against women and children remains an unfortunate reality in Canadian society. As researchers continue to map the far-reaching health, mental health and social effects of violence and abuse, we know that violence operates at all levels – individual and interpersonal, environmental and community, cultural and structural. Despite this awareness, our policy and practice approaches have remained fragmented. More recently we have been discovering the impact on children –putting those children who are exposed to intimate partner violence at higher risk of mental health problems.
In Ending Violence Against Women and Children, we need to view intimate partner violence, child maltreatment and sexual violence as inter-connected issues. An integrated, multidimensional research approach is needed that examines the occurrence of violence at the intersection of these different levels. Research found in this knowledge hub takes a holistic view of how different experiences of violence inter-relate and interact, requiring tailored approaches to intervention and prevention. Highlighted are findings responding to the following pressing questions:
What are the emotional and mental health consequences for children exposed to intimate partner violence (IPV)?
In what ways do current immigration laws, child welfare policies, and law enforcement policies and practices affect women’s relationships with their children, impact their decisions to disclose and report IPV, and influence how they engage in help seeking action?
What are women and children’s sources of strength and resilience, and how can these be fostered?
The time has come for integrating women’s and children’s lived experiences through an ecological lens. It is through this lens that allows for a clearer understanding of the breadth and integration of different ways of knowing as to the impact of violence against women and children. And a sharpened focus translates into the development of more effective policies and services.