Support for Refugee Families in Waterloo Region in Managing Conflict and Addressing Domestic Violence: Towards an Interculturally Integrated Approach to Family Conflict Management

Researchers: Jean de Dieu Basabose1, Dillion Browne1
Affiliations: University of Waterloo1
Keywords:  Refugee families, domestic violence, family conflict, culturally integrated approach, Waterloo Region, intervention, qualitative methodology
Jump to: Full infographic, Methodology, Findings, Recommendations


Overview: This study sought to understand how refugee families in the Waterloo Region are supported to manage family conflicts and prevent domestic violence in culturally appropriate ways.

Objective: to understand the gaps in support for families with refugee experience in the Waterloo Region when dealing with family conflict, and to propose an approach to addressing family conflict and domestic violence in culturally appropriate ways.

Research Justification: Families with refugee experience face multiple pre-, during, and post-migratory stressors which can generate family conflicts that then potentially lead to domestic violence. Families need support to manage family conflict and prevent domestic violence. To be effective, these supports should be culturally appropriate.

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Executive Summary


The research team conducted online focus group discussions and individual interviews with 20 participants. Participants included those who have worked with refugee families, have lived experience as a refugee, or have sponsored refugee families. Bennett’s Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity was applied as an analytical framework to the interview data. The research team was supported by a research advisory committee who provided a community perspective and helped share the findings.


All participants confirmed that domestic violence is an existing problem in the Waterloo Region. The most common forms of violence in families with refugee experience are financial, psychological, emotional, physical, and sexual.

Although there are many services that provide support to families with refugee experience in the Waterloo Region, study participants identified gaps in managing family conflict and domestic violence in a culturally appropriate way. These gaps result from:

An interculturally integrated approach to family conflict management should take into account the socio-cultural and contextual realities of refugee families while:


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