Cruel but Not Unusual: Violence in Canadian Families, 2nd Edition

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9781554588275: Cruel but Not Unusual: Violence in Canadian Families, 2nd Edition

Violence in families and intimate relationships affects a significant proportion of the population―from very young children to the elderly―with far-reaching and often devastating consequences. Cruel but Not Unusual draws on the expertise of scholars and practitioners to present readers with the latest research and thinking about the history, conditions, and impact of violence in these contexts. For this new edition, chapters have been updated to reflect changes in data and legislation. New chapters include an examination of trauma from a neurobiological perspective; a critical analysis of the “gender symmetry debate,” a debate that questions the gendered nature of intimate violence; and an essay on the history and evolution of the women’s movement dedicated to addressing violence against women, which advances theoretical developments that remind readers of the breadth of inclusivity that should be at the heart of working in this field.

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About the Author:

Ramona Alaggia is Associate Professor of Social Work and the Factor-Inwentash Chair in Children’s Mental Health at the University of Toronto, where she teaches social work practice with children and their families. Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, her studies examine disclosure processes of child sexual abuse and intimate partner violence survivors, the impact of various forms of justice on survivors of sexual violence, and help-seeking for survivors of intimate partner violence. The results of this research have culminated in Dr. Alaggia’s most recent publication Risky Business: An Ecological Analysis of Intimate Partner Violence Disclosure. She currently consults to and evaluates programs delivering services to survivors and their children, and for fathers who expose their children to intimate partner violence.



Cathy Vine engages in research, writing and action projects to advance the well-being and rights of children and youth. Recently she worked with Ontario’s Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth to support young people to hold the first ever Youth Leaving Care Hearings at Queen’s Park, home of the Ontario Legislature. Previously, Cathy oversaw publication of 40 reports on children’s issues and worked extensively with children, youth, and adults affected by child abuse and intimate violence, conducting research and developing innovative support and clinical services. She taught part-time at the School of Social Work, Ryerson University, and publications include the recent co-authored report, Resilience: Successful Navigation through Significant Threat (2010), and the co-authored book, Gardens of Shame: The Tragedy of Martin Kruze & the Sexual Abuse at Maple Leaf Gardens (Greystone Press, 2002).

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Excerpt from Cruel but Not Unusual: Violence in Canadian Families, 2nd edition edited by Ramona Alaggia and Cathy Vine

From Chapter Two: Family Violence or Woman Abuse? Putting Gender Back into the Canadian Research Equation by Molly Dragiewicz

Research on violence against women has been among the most scrutinized areas in social science. From the beginning, efforts to empirically document the prevalence, incidence, and characteristics of violence against women have been hotly debated (DeKeseredy, 2011; Dragiewicz & DeKeseredy, forthcoming; Minaker & Snider, 2006). Objections that violence against women was rare have given way to acknowledgement that it is more common than once thought. Research on the outcomes of woman abuse has documented the serious ramifications of this type of violence for individual victims and the broader community. However, violence against women was not simply “discovered” by scholars in the 1960s, leading to a progressive growth of the literature. Knowledge production around violence against women has been fiercely contested, and feminist insights in particular have always been met with backlash (Gotell, 2007; Minkaer & Snider, 2006; Randall, 1989; Sinclair, 2003). Research on violence against women has been targeted with claims of politicization, as if other social science research is devoid of political implications. Although the act of delineating the boundaries of any crime is political by definition, violence against women seems to be disproportionately characterized as such.

From Chapter Seven: Violence, Protection, and Empowerment in the Lives of Children and Adults with Disabilities by Richard Sobsey and Sonia A. Sobon

To more meaningfully reduce risk, people with disabilities must become part of the social fabric. In addition, while inclusion can help normalize risk for people with disabilities, normalization at best only reduces excessive risk to the rate experienced by other members of the community. As this goal is approached, reducing risks for people with disabilities typically means reducing the risks for all people and the community as a whole. This suggests that much of our effort toward protecting people with disabilities from violence should be directed toward efforts that reduce risks for all members of society. For example, seeking to reduce patriarchal dominance, and jealous and possessive behaviours, which one study (Brownridge et al. , 2008) found prevalent among male abusers of women with disabilities, would likely benefit society as a whole. When we think of violence against people with disabilities as a violence problem and not a disability problem, it seems obvious that including people with disabilities in our general violence prevention strategies makes sense. This suggests that we need to look for more ways to include people with disabilities in generic prevention programs and focus less on special programs. An added benefit is that people with disabilities can be useful assets to their community crime prevention programs. For example, depending on staffing needs, group homes may be the only houses in a community where people are home during the day or awake late at night. As such, they can be important assets to neighbourhood watch programs. Thus, people with disabilities can become active partners and assets to their community's violence prevention initiatives.

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