Disrupting Trajectories Leading to Domestic Violence


  • Lana Wells University of Calgary
  • Ken Fyie
  • Ron Kneebone University of Calgary
  • Stephanie Montesanti University of Alberta
  • Casey Boodt
  • Rebecca Davidson Calgary Police Service




Research into male-on-female domestic violence traditionally focuses on its after-effects, with an emphasis on how victims can keep themselves safe or on the men who have been criminally charged in such incidents. This approach puts the responsibility on the victim to try and protect herself while offering support to the perpetrator only after the violence has occurred to prevent recidivism. This policy brief takes a different approach to understanding points of intervention that might prevent domestic violence from occurring in the first place.

Using a robust 10-year dataset supplied by Calgary Police Service, the authors explored a trajectory of criminal behaviour and police interactions prior to an eventual charge for a criminal act involving domestic violence in 2019. While preliminary, the data analysis reported in this brief finds a distinct trajectory of increased criminal behaviour among male perpetrators leading up to a charge in 2019. In fact, the data shows a rising number of police interventions related
to complaints involving possible acts of domestic violence during that 10-year period. Very few men in this sample were unknown to police prior to the charge in 2019.

Domestic violence frequently makes headlines, and when femicide is committed, it is often accompanied by announcements of public vigils to be held for the victimized woman along with demands for an end to intimate partner violence. But rarely is the question raised, why do men continue to be the major perpetrators of this terrible violent act? And if there is always a passion and commitment to provide support to victims, where is the same passion and commitment to developing policies and strategies to work with men at risk of perpetrating violence and before they commit the offence of domestic violence? The approach of examining male perpetration trajectories analyzed in this policy brief, can help inform legislation, policies, and programs that can not only stop male violence before it starts, but subsequently reduce the suffering of women and their families.

Author Biographies

Lana Wells, University of Calgary

Lana Wells is the Brenda Strafford Chair in the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Associate Professor at the Faculty of Social Work and Fellow at The School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, Canada. Lana is currently leading Shift: The Project to End Domestic Violence. The purpose of Shift is to enhance the capacity of policy makers, systems leaders, and service providers to reduce rates of domestic violence through primary prevention (www.preventdomesticviolence.ca).

Ken Fyie

Ken Fyie is a Research Associate at the University of Calgary School of Public Policy. He completed a Masters Degree in economics at the University of Iowa, and a Masters in Community Health Sciences at the University of Calgary. Mr. Fyie’s research focuses on quantitative analysis of health and disability policy issues.

Ron Kneebone, University of Calgary

Ron Kneebone is the Director of Social Policy research at The School of Public Policy and a Professor of Economics, both at the University of Calgary. His current research examines problems of homelessness, poverty, and income inequality. He occasionally publishes on issues related to provincial government finances.

Stephanie Montesanti, University of Alberta

Stephanie Montesanti is a health policy and health systems researcher within the field of population and public health. Her research program examines the determinants of policy and systems change in addressing the health of populations with a focus on understanding chronic disease and health inequities in Indigenous and other underserved populations in Canada and globally. Stephanie is the Canada Research Chair in Health System Integration and is an Associate Professor and Scientist in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta.

Casey Boodt

Casey Boodt, M.Ed. is an Evaluation Consultant based in Calgary, Alberta and is the President of CPB Consulting Inc. He is currently the Research & Evaluation advisor at FearIsNotLove and is supporting two community-based initiatives directed at the intervention and prevention of domestic violence.

Rebecca Davidson, Calgary Police Service

Rebecca Davidson is the manager of Corporate Data & Analytics at the Calgary Police Service. She has over twenty years of analytical experience in law enforcement, where she has worked as a tactical and strategic analyst as well as a business strategist. She participates on research, data, and analytics committees at the local, provincial, and national levels. Rebecca has a Masters’ Degree in Sociology and has taught courses at Mount Royal University and Athabasca University. 






Briefing Papers