The Implications of Defining Domestic Violence for Vulnerable Populations
In this paper we ask, how do we define domestic violence, and what are the implications of these definitions for vulnerable populations? Drawing from and comparing domestic violence death review committees in Canada and internationally, we explore (1) how these definitions are constructed; (2) how children, Indigenous people, immigrants and refugees, and rural, remote, and northern communities factor in to these definitions; and (3) what gaps these categorical boundaries create. We consider how the gendered nature of these crimes shapes vulnerable communities' exposure and risk for domestic violence, and consider intersecting vulnerabilities that are important in understanding victims and perpetrators.
In unpacking how victims and perpetrators are constructed through definitions of domestic violence, we argue that an intersectional approach with particular attention to vulnerabilities stemming from systemic marginalization (e.g. colonization, racism), as well as generation and gender, is important for designing and implementing domestic violence prevention initiatives. We conclude by highlighting existing domestic violence prevention mechanisms that consider unique circumstances stemming from generation and gender as well as vulnerabilities related to Indigeneity, immigrant and refugee status, and geographical location. Potential directions for future research are discussed.