The Ontario Rural Women Abuse Study

Nicola Epprecht, Department of Justice Canada

The purpose of the ORWAS project was twofold: First, to obtain a better understanding of the unique challenges confronting rural women experiencing domestic violence; and second, to identify the most appropriate supports and interventions that were effective for rural women living with abuse, with the hope to facilitate constructive community discussion or action around the issue. Both quantitative and qualitative methodologies were employed. Community researchers conducted interviews in six sites with survivors of woman abuse, and held focus groups with community residents, service providers and community leaders. The ORWAS project represents a unique type of research methodology, "Research through Empowerment". In addition, the words and experiences of the survivors were central to the research method, findings and final reports. Six key findings distinguished woman abuse in rural areas from woman abuse generally: Geography, Rural ethics and character, Community complacency, Limited access to services and information; Lack of anonymity, and Safety issues. The complexity of rural areas indicates that responses to urban abuse require a rural-specific lens. The significance of the contribution of ORWAS to the literature on domestic violence in rural settings lies in the objectives of the project, the preferred methods and the feminist perspective.

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Updated 05/20/2006