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Waypoint researchers launch cross-Canada project to address intimate partner violence
Waypoint researchers launch cross-Canada project to address intimate partner violence
Posted on 08/30/2023
Waypoint researchers launch cross-Canada project to address intimate partner violence

Waypoint researchers have embarked on a pioneering nationwide endeavour,
Dr. N. Zoe Hilton 
Dr. N. Zoe Hilton
Waypoint Senior Research Scientist  
partnering with police services and universities in Alberta, New Brunswick and Ontario to study and share evidence-based approaches for assessing risk of intimate partner violence (IPV). 

Intimate partner violence has increased since the pandemic and remains a pervasive concern, affecting individuals across society. Recognizing the urgent need for a unified response strategy, this collaborative initiative led by Waypoint Senior Research Scientist Dr. N. Zoe Hilton seeks to establish a common language for assessing and discussing IPV risks that transcend municipal and provincial police services and other criminal justice stakeholders.

“We plan to create a standardized approach to interpreting IPV risk, and test the approach across men, women, and individuals with diverse gender identities,” says Dr. Hilton, who is also a Professor of Psychiatry in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto. 

Already underway, the Edmonton Police Service, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and the Saint John Police Force are gathering data on IPV incidents to support the project’s objectives. Spearheading this interdisciplinary research are experts Dr. Angela Eke (OPP), Dr. Mary Ann Campbell (University of New Brunswick), Dr. Sandy Jung (MacEwan University) and Dr. Karl Hanson (Society for the Advancement of Actuarial Risk Need Assessment). Complementing this distinguished group are Waypoint’s Elke Ham, Dr. Meghan Weissflog and Dr. Soyeon Kim.

Risk assessment is an indispensable tool for risk management, making it possible for police to intervene quickly and effectively to prevent further violence. However, recent events such as the 2022 triple femicide of Anastasia Kuzyk, Nathalie Warmerdam and Carol Culleton in Ontario have highlighted the need for a consistent way to communicate and respond to high-risk cases.

To share their ongoing research and contribute to broader uptake of their findings, the team has launched a comprehensive website ( The website not only presents their research results but also delves into related work on coercive control – an area intricately linked to IPV.

“Studies show that coercive control is related to intimate partner femicide,” says Dr. Hilton. “If we overlook the danger signs by ignoring coercive control, we could be missing opportunities to save lives. Our collaborative efforts with police organizations will focus on equipping police to recognize and respond to non-physical, coercive and controlling behaviours when assessing IPV risk.”

By spearheading this transformative research, Waypoint researchers and their esteemed collaborators are pioneering a comprehensive approach to intimate partner violence assessment that promises to improve the safety and well-being of countless individuals across Canada and beyond.

This project is supported in part by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

For more information, please contact [email protected].

About Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care
Waypoint is a fully accredited recognized academic and teaching hospital providing specialty mental health and addiction services and geriatric services for Simcoe County, Muskoka and central Ontario, as well as forensic mental health services for all of Ontario. Our main campus, which includes the Waypoint Research Institute, is located on the beautiful shores of Georgian Bay in the Town of Penetanguishene. Waypoint is a proud partner in the Community Health Hub in Midland and has additional locations in Midland, Barrie and Huntsville. As a regional provider of specialized services, the hospital has an extensive range of acute and longer-term psychiatric inpatient and outpatient services as well as multiple community services including the North Simcoe/Muskoka Specialized Geriatric Services program and North Simcoe Youth Wellness Hub. 

As part of our commitment to support the Ontario healthcare system, Waypoint is currently operating an additional 14 acute care mental health beds (for a total of 34 acute mental health beds); is a network lead organization for the Ontario Structured Psychotherapy Program; and offers free, confidential and low barrier access to individual counselling for healthcare workers, frontline workers and first responders through Frontline Wellness. Waypoint works in partnership with other organizations in the Central Ontario Specialized Health Network, bringing collaborative leadership and expertise to improve the care experiences and outcomes for people living with mental illness and addictions including children and youth, for seniors and caregivers, for people in palliative care, and in support of Indigenous populations.