An international examination of domestic violence death review outcomes

CRC LogoThis project is funded by the Canada Research Chair program. The Principal Investigator is Dr. Myrna Dawson.

Domestic violence death review teams have existed since the early 1990s, beginning in the United States, then spreading to Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand. While these initiatives continue to be established, a comprehensive understanding of their varying procedures, practices and outcomes is lacking. In particular, there is little systematic knowledge about the frequency, type and topical content of recommendations that arise out of these reviews, their rate of uptake, or their impact if implemented. This gap in knowledge exists despite the fact that the recommendations generated represent an important concrete outcome of these initiatives and the implementation of recommendations is a key goal if improvements in system and sector responses to domestic violence are to occur. To begin to address this gap, this project is examining almost 5,000 recommendations that have been generated to date arising out of reviews in the five countries in which they operate. The main research question addressed is what are the primary improvements in system responses that have been identified through recommendations generated by in-depth domestic violence death reviews. In addition, given the recognition that some populations are at a greater risk of domestic homicide, recommendations that relate to specific vulnerable/marginalized groups will also be examined including indigenous, immigrant/refuge, and rural/remote/northern populations, disabled, elderly populations, same-sex relationships as well as children killed in domestic homicides. Drawing from public reports produced by these committees and framed within the public health perspective, the project will identify the focus and content of recommendations, common strategies identified for improving responses to domestic violence, the key sectors identified as responsible for implementing recommendations and the populations targeted. Such an examination is important because only when it is understood what is being recommended by these committees, can researchers, policy makers and others begin to assess whether and how improvements have been made as a result.

Related references:

Dawson, M. (Ed). 2017. Domestic Homicides and Death Reviews: An International Perspective. London: Palgrave Macmillan. 

Dawson, M., P. Jaffe, M. Campbell, W. Lucas, and K. Kerr. 2017. Canada. Chapter 3 in Domestic Homicides and Death Reviews: An International Perspective, edited by M. Dawson. London: Palgrave Macmillan. 

Dawson, M., S. Mathews, N. Abrahams, and J. Campbell. 2017. Death reviews in the context of domestic homicide in low- to middle-income countries: South Africa as a case study. Chapter 13 in Domestic Homicides and Death Reviews: An International Perspective, edited by M. Dawson. London: Palgrave Macmillan. 

Fairbairn, J., P. Jaffe, and M. Dawson. 2017. Challenges in defining domestic homicide: Implications for Research and Practice. Chapter 7 in Domestic Homicides and Death Reviews: An International Perspective, edited by M. Dawson. London: Palgrave Macmillan. 

Campbell, M., Dawson, M., Jaffe, P., Straatman, A.L. 2016. Domestic Homicide Death Review Committees: Speaking for the Dead to Protect the Living. Domestic Homicide Brief 1.  London, ON:  Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative. 

Bugeja, L., M. Dawson, S. McIntyre, and C. Walsh. 2015. Domestic/Family Violence Death Reviews: An international comparison. Trauma, Violence and Abuse 16(2): 179-187. 

Jaffe, P., M. Dawson and M. Campbell. 2013. Canadian Perspectives on Preventing Domestic Homicides: Developing a National Collaborative Approach to Domestic Homicide Review Committees. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice 55(1): 137-155. 

Dawson, M. Fatality and Death Reviews. 2013. Homicide Studies 17(4): 335-338. [Guest Editor Introduction, Special Issue] 

Jaffe, P., M. Campbell, M. Dawson, and W. Lucas. 2010. An overview of the Ontario (Canada) Domestic Violence Death Review Committee (DVDRC). Fatality Review Bulletin (Spring): 4-6.