National study seeks domestic-violence survivors


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Jenny Lay was only four when her mother was killed by her father, after she had travelled to his Alberta home to pick up her two daughters and bring them back to Manitoba.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/09/2019 (1280 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Jenny Lay was only four when her mother was killed by her father, after she had travelled to his Alberta home to pick up her two daughters and bring them back to Manitoba.

Her father died by suicide in 1997, a year after the slaying. “Maybe he was feeling guilty,” Lay says, adding she has been living with the after-effects for two decades.

“I was a child who lost both my parents as a result of domestic violence,” she said Wednesday, during the Winnipeg event for the national launch of Phase 3 of the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative.

“I stayed in shelters with my mother many times. My dad was very abusive to her. He never hurt us as kids, but I saw violence a lot. I grew up in a lot of unhealthy homes. There was never really anyone there for me. No one ever checked up on us or wondered how we were doing.”

Lay said she has gone on to become the first in her family to graduate from both high school and university, but she still has questions about what happened to her mother, and to her sister and herself.

“Why is there no support for the children left behind? I just don’t know why no one from the shelter or police didn’t go with her.”

It’s those questions and more researchers at 14 Canadian universities, along with numerous organizations across the country — including Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak and Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata — are hoping to answer during the next year.

Kendra Nixon, an associate professor in the University of Manitoba’s faculty of social work and director of the institution’s RESOLVE (Research and Education for Solutions to Violence and Abuse) network centre, and Renée Hoffart, Prairie co-ordinator of the project, said they’re now looking to interview survivors of severe domestic violence or family and friends who were close to a victim of domestic homicide.

Nixon said the issue is a serious problem in Manitoba. Past studies have shown Manitoba had the highest provincial rate of domestic homicide victims killed between 2010 to 2015, at 3.36 per 100,000 residents.

Hoffart said more than 30 of the more than 200 to be interviewed across the country will be from the three Prairie provinces, with an equal number to be interviewed in Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

“It is looking to identify risk factors,” she said. “(Domestic violence) is predictable and preventable.

“The ultimate goal is prevention.”

Hoffart said researchers are looking for people with experiences that occurred between 2006 and 2016, as well as being from one of four groups that experience the most violence: Indigenous people; immigrants and/or refugees; people living in rural, remote and/or northern communities; and children exposed to domestic violence or parents of children killed as part of domestic violence.

Hoffart said anyone whose case is still before the courts is excluded from the study.

For more information on participating in the project, contact or call 204-474-7410 or 1-844-958-0522.

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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