research team
research projects

HerStory of woman abuse and the PEI justice system

Since the Team's inception, we have embarked on a study of women's experiences which focusses on the first two of our four objectives. Face-to-face interviews with 22 women who have experienced abuse at the hands of their partners on Prince Edward Island were conducted in 1999, with one woman speaking on her own behalf as well as on behalf of her murdered sister, with a view to understanding where the services offered to victims of abuse have helped or hindered. Particular attention was paid, but not limited to, the Legal System on PEI. The interviews were audio-taped and demographic information on interview participants was collected. While detailed analysis is required, we do know from a perusal of the stories collected that women who have experienced violence in their relationships, also experience abuse within the justice system. The stories of the 22 PEI women are detailed about their need for service providers to understand the cycle and effect of abuse, for legal aid in family law issues, and for services to be modified to better protect and assist women.

Their stories have been transcribed for analysis. Completing this analysis, our next step, will move us into the third and fourth objectives of the research, to increase awareness in the justice system of effective response to woman abuse and to engage the justice system in making changes which positively impact on women's experiences in the justice system.

During this initiative, the Research Team completed the qualitative analysis of the 22 interviews conducted in 1999. Each of these interviews collected valuable information on the woman's relationship with her partner, challenges and events associated with separation, awareness and use of services following separation, reaction and helpfulness of justice system and other services, as well as suggestions for improving services. The purpose of this project is to increase understanding by justice system staff and policy makers and the women's community of how women may be helped in dealing with abuse at the hands of their partners by providing them with first hand, PEI-specific, accounts of women's experiences.

The research findings will enable other women's organizations in PEI and Atlantic Canada working in the area of family violence prevention to further their own work by providing them with PEI-specific information about women's experience; information which is crucial to engaging the government in making changes to improve justice for victims of woman abuse. This report [link the report] will be used to inform justice policy through distribution to key justice system policy makers and management as well as to women's organizations working in the area of family violence prevention.

The work of the researcher was enhanced by input from women's organizations working in the area of family violence prevention and key government policy makers and service providers who were brought together at a one-day workshop in June, 2001. During the workshop, the research findings were presented and participants developed strategies for using the findings to encourage changes in the system which ensure that women are not re-victimized by the justice system in PEI.

The report was used to create a facilitator's kit [link] to assist those working in the area of family violence prevention to raise awareness about woman abuse and women's experiences in the justice system.

© 2004 Woman Abuse and the PEI Justice System Research Team