Rina ArseneaultOn Monday, May 30, 2016 from 10 a.m. to – 11:30 a.m. at the Crowne Plaza, the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research (MMFC) and the New Brunswick Association of Social Workers (NBASW) will host an event to launch the final report for their project entitled Rural Realities Faced by Service Providers When Helping Women Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence Navigate the Justice System.

Intimate partner violence (IPV), including physical, emotional, sexual, and economic abuse, is a reality that affects the lives of many women. While women in both urban and rural areas are at risk for IPV, there are elements of rural living that may make it particularly difficult for women to seek help and for service providers to deliver needed supports.

Questions about abuse in rural contexts are particularly pertinent to New Brunswick, where 48 per cent of inhabitants live in areas defined as rural, residing outside centres of a population of at least 1,000 people and where there is a density of fewer than 400 persons per square kilometre (Statistics Canada, 2011). Hornosty and Doherty (2003) argue that women living in rural regions of New Brunswick face a number of problems accessing support including “fears associated with an uncertain future relating to the decline of the family farm, the lack of alternative rural employment especially full-time jobs, increasing poverty, the lack of access to education, day-care, and health services, as well as inadequate transportation, housing, and social services (Hornosty & Doherty, 2003, p. 37-38).”

The Rural Realities project has consulted with rural service providers and survivors of IPV to produce insights into the barriers that currently make it more difficult for IPV survivor to access help and deal with criminal and family court processes. Based on focus groups held in both Francophone and Anglophone regions and including First Nations communities, our study has elaborated on key factors such as accessibility, information, and empathetic support that are known to contribute to the quality of women’s support within the justice system (Letourneau, et al 2012; Ragusa, 2013). The study presents recommendations from service providers based on their successes in building awareness of IPV in rural communities, as well as working collaboratively to support IPV survivors in their communities.

The launch event will bring together rural and urban service providers, academics, and policymakers from around New Brunswick. It will provide an overview of the report and recommendations and promote discussion of the challenges encountered by service providers in rural communities to navigate the justice system.

Media Contact: Rina Arseneault, Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre