Western University program for violence survivors gets $2M boost

·2 min read

Ottawa is pumping more than $2 million into Western University to help extend an intervention program supporting survivors of gender-based violence.

Local MPs Arielle Kayabaga and Peter Fragiskatos were at Western’s campus Thursday to announce funding to continue testing a women-led health promotion intervention program called iHEAL, run in partnership with the universities of New Brunswick and British Columbia.

The funding will let registered nurses and community partners support 400 women who’ve experienced partner violence over the next two years.

“The results of that — the evidence that is gained — will have the potential to inform, potentially, a national model,” Fragiskatos (L-London North Centre) said during the news conference.

The program supports women during the first six months after they leave an abusive relationship, offering workshops and one-on-one meetings to foster confidence and improve their mental health and safety.

Project lead Marilyn Ford-Gilboe has spent 10 years working alongside the Middlesex-London Health Unit and partners in New Brunswick and B.C. to determine how the iHEAL program can benefit survivors of gender-based violence.

The $2,032,148 from Ottawa will be used to shift the program from research to implementation and determine whether it can be a sustainable and inclusive intervention model in different service settings.

“If it works, it’s a program that could be easily embedded into many different types of health-care settings,” said Ford-Gilboe, women’s health research chair in rural health at Western, adding the hope is to see that happen.

On Thursday, Kayabaga (L-London West) spoke about the need to tackle gender-based violence and its impact on survivors and their families.

“COVID-19 is one of those events that has increased family and intimate partner violence,” she said.

“The emotional stress, economic impacts and the isolation of the pandemic amplify both the risks and impact of family and partner violence. Living with abuse and instability can have serious health consequences, physically and mentally, on people, as well as social consequences.”



Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press