Needs Assessment and Gap Analysis for Abused Women Unrepresented in the Family Law System: Final Report and Recommendations

This project was undertaken by Luke’s Place working with The Denise House to learn more about the needs of abused women in Durham Region in Ontario who are unrepresented in family court. Researchers held focus groups with a variety of stakeholders to gather information: women survivors of violence unrepresented in family court, community workers, legal support workers and lawyers, as well as interviews with family court judges. All focus group participants and interview subjects also completed a detailed questionnaire. In total, 27 women aged 22–55 years participated in the study. Almost half reported having a psychological disability related to abuse, such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. The report gives recommendations on law reform, public policy, service delivery, and training to ensure that all women have access to proper legal representation. It also recommends improving existing services, as well as creating new ones, to support women as they move through family court.