Domestic abuse and the law

OCAD‘s Super Ordinary Lab in Toronto, Canada also just started an unusual social design project that is worth sharing.

Domestic Abuse and the Law: Confronting Systemic Impacts is a an ongoing participatory action research project to create positive change, and end tolerance of domestic abuse in all its forms.

Although much focus within this domain has been on physical abuse, non-violent forms are not well addressed. The criminal code within Canada does little to cover emotional or psychological harassment – which may persist for years.

There is growing awareness about the seriousness of harassment and bullying in society. Our workplaces and schools are increasingly instituting anti-harassment / bullying policies. We need to extend this to afford protection to those who are harassed and threatened in their personal lives, generally.

Domestic abuse includes physical and sexual violence. It also includes other forms of abuses of power and control emotional, psychological and financial.

The multi-year project includes systems mapping, experience modelling and stakeholder workshops.

Through examination of a process timeline of involved stakeholders, an investigation into the legal precedents that have been set for trying domestic abuse cases, and the laws governing domestic abuse and harassment both provincially and federally, this project will highlight the leverage points whereby change may be facilitated to produce outcomes that will protect and support survivors of domestic abuse as they navigate the legal system. A thorough literature review with expert interviews, combined with ethnographic field research, will explore four thematic domains central to the research:

  • Legislation – History of Federal Legislation Addressing Family Violence in Canada
  • The impact on “survivors”
  • Personality disorders that are related to abuse incidents
  • The impact of culture – Cultural lens through which abuse is understood, propagated or dismissed.

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