Guiding Systemic Responses to Survivors of Gender-Based Violence Through Risk Assessment: A Survivor-Centric Approach

With funding from Women and Gender Equality Canada and in partnership with agencies across Canada, researchers, and survivors, of violence, we are developing promising practices, frameworks and resources for gender-based violence risk identification and assessment.  

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The project builds a blueprint for risk assessment and safety frameworks that is founded on a trauma-informed approach and the consideration of intersecting identity factors for Indigenous women, Black women, racialized women, immigrant and refugee women, women with precarious immigration status, women with disabilities, 2SLGBTQIA+ people, and gender-diverse survivors who are disproportionately impacted by GBV.

Risk Identification and Safety Assessment (RISA) Tool for Service Providers

The Clinic is pleased to announce the forthcoming release of a new Risk Identification and Safety Assessment (RISA) Tool for service providers working in the GBV sector. The forthcoming tool and related resources have been informed by three years of community-based research conducted by the Schlifer Clinic’s National Risk Assessment project, including systematic literature reviews, research consultations/ outreach with 597 service providers across Canada, and in-depth consultations with 38 survivors across Ontario.

About the Tool: The Risk Identification and Safety Assessment (RISA) tool was created and designed by the Barbra Schlifer Clinic as part of the Clinic’s five-year National Risk Assessment Project, in collaboration with our project partners and with funding from Women and Gender Equality (WAGE).
The RISA Tool was developed for frontline service providers working with survivors of gender-based violence or those at risk of violence. It is intended to assist service providers in screening and identifying potential risk for future violence where GBV has been identified, while assisting with personalized safety plans and case management.
More details about the forthcoming RISA Tool will be published in Fall 2023, please stay tuned for details!

Upcoming Events

Stay Informed by Joining our Mailing List: If you are a GBV service provider who would like to participate in our upcoming training and piloting activities, please contact our project coordinator.

RISA Tool Piloting Workshops

These 3-hour workshops will provide training on best practices for risk identification and safety assessment for GBV service providers. Participants will have an opportunity to test the RISA tool and provide feedback on how the tool might be implemented to meet their regional and organizational needs. Light refreshments will be provided. No cost to attend, but space is limited so RSVP early to avoid disappointment.

  • Halifax: October 25, 2023
  • Ottawa: November 2, 2023
  • Calgary: November 20, 2023
  • Vancouver: November 22, 2023
  • Stay tuned for upcoming workshops in Toronto and a National Virtual Workshop

If you are a GBV service provider who would like to participate in our upcoming piloting workshops, please contact our project coordinator.

The Schlifer Clinic would like to sincerely thank our workshop regional partners:

  • YMCA Halifax – GBV Prevention Project, Immigrant Women Services Ottawa (IWSO), Calgary Legal Guidance (CLG), Ending Violence Association of British Columbia

Main Project Goals

  • Identify current practices in risk assessment, risk mitigation and safety planning for survivors of gender-based violence;
  • Identify gaps in risk assessment, risk mitigation and safety planning for survivors of gender-based violence;
  • Create and test promising practices in risk assessment, risk mitigation and safety planning for survivors of violence available for free in English and French;
  • Generate evidence that demonstrates the efficiency and effectiveness of promising practices;
  • Develop Blueprints and make them available for other organizations to replicate and adapt to their local context;
  • Develop and deliver in-person and online training of the project’s main findings and deliverables with multimedia training modules in both English and French.

Consultations with GBV service providers

Between 2021-2022, the Clinic engaged in research and outreach consultations with 597 service providers who participated through a national series of consultation forums, an online survey offered in both official languages, and knowledge exchange opportunities.

The objectives of the research were to:

  • Understand current risk assessment and safety planning practices being used by GBV service providers across Canada.
  • Collect feedback from service providers on their experiences using risk assessment tools to support diverse populations.
  • Consult with service providers on ways to improve risk assessment tools and practices to ensure that they are trauma-informed, survivor-centered, and intersectional in their approach.

Overall, the research found an “unequal patchwork” of risk assessment and safety planning practices across Canada. We found significant variation in the extent to which service providers are using formal risk assessment tools, along with differences in which tools were used across different settings. Participants also identified significant limitations in available tools and wanted more holistic and trauma-informed tools adaptable to their service provider settings. 

You can read more about the project’s consultations with GBV service providers in our Research Bulletin I: “An Unequal Patchwork: Research on Risk Assessment & Safety Planning with Service Providers Across Canada.”

    Survivor Engagement

    Between 2021-2022, the Clinic conducted a series of consultations with survivors of gender-based violence to understand their experiences and needs when assessing risks and to plan for their safety. A total of 38 survivors participated in the consultations using two consultation modalities. A Community Engagement Working Group (CEWG) brought together 9 survivors from diverse backgrounds to participate in 9 consultation sessions over an 8-month period. Qualitative semi-structured interviews were also conducted with 29 individual participants. The survivors whom we consulted had much to share and provided essential recommendations and insights into developing the project tools.

    You can read more about the project’s consultations with people with lived experience in our Research Bulletin II: “Gender-Based Violence Survivors’ Voices and Experiences: Risk Assessment & Safety Planning.”

    Research and Investigation

    The project team conducted extensive literature and environmental scans that informed the development of the project’s tools and resources for risk assessment and safety planning.

    Highlights of the project’s research are included below for educational purposes and not for commercial use. Please cite or quote the Clinic’s research appropriately.


    Partnerships & Public Engagement

    The Clinic has partnered with several organizations and GBV experts to provide advice and support during different stages of the project. In addition, several Schlifer Clinic staff have been actively involved with the project.

    Project Leadership Team:

    • Deepa Mattoo – Executive Director
    • Patricia Coelho – Project Coordinator
    • Salina Abji – Consultant


    Project Advisory Committee:

    The project’s advisory committee is comprised of 10-12 GBV experts who have partnered with the Clinic to achieve project goals.

    Current Advisory Members include:

    • Amanda Dale – Non-Profit Executive, Legal Scholar and Consultant
    • Abi Ajibolade – Executive Director – The Redwood Shelter
    • Janet Mosher – Associate Professor – Osgoode Hall Law School– York University
    • Julie Lassonde – Lawyer and Mediator
    • Lise Martin – Executive Director – Women’s Shelters Canada
    • Megan Stephen – Criminal & Constitutional Lawyer
    • Myrna Dawson – Professor of Sociology and Research Leadership Chair -University of Guelph. DirectorCentre for the Study of Social and Legal Responses to Violence 
    • Sajedeh Zahraei – Senior Manager of Professional Development and Training – OCASI
    • Sheila Macdonald – Director, Ontario Network of Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment Centres


    Project Support Team:

    • Eleni Poulosofos – Events support/ Research revision and copy editing
    • Faith-Ann Mendes – National Forum Support
    • Gilda Pikelin – Community Engagement Working Group
    • Maricela Lozano – Interpreter Services Support
    • MaryBeth Durante – Interpreter Services Support
    • Pamela Rice – Events and communications support
    • Shalini Devarajah – Events and communications support


    External project contributors:

    • Alm Sutana – Art Design
    • Ashley Major – Research Assistant
    • Aruna Boodram – National Forum Guest Speaker
    • Brittany Datchko – Graphic Recordings Design
    • Leah Brockie – Research Assistant
    • Seema Hooda – Research Assistant
    • Seema Kawar – Research Assistant    


    The Clinic also expresses gratitude to past Clinic staff and students who contributed to different stages of the project:

    Staff:  Divya Khurana, Elsie Ikhariale, Karine Silverwoman, Kirubalini Giruparajah, Premila Chellapermal, Tiffany Lau, and Sofia Johnson.

    Students: Adrianna Mills, Alex Da Dalt, Alexandra Tamiko, Alison Scwenk, Krystal Tsotsos, Michelle Monteith, and Sabrina Sukhdeo.


    The public can also stay informed about the project through this website and the Clinic’s social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

    To book our Project Coordinator for a guest speaking opportunity, or to connect with us about potential partnership opportunities, please contact our project coordinator.

    Past Events

    RISA Tool National Pre-Launch (hybrid event)
    Save the Date! Tuesday, September 12, 2023 

    • In person event from 3pm to 5pm EST
    • Or join us online for our 1-hour event livestream from 3:30pm EST to 4:30pm EST

    How to register for the Pre-Launch event:

    If you want to participate or hear more about this project, please Contact Us 


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