What are we doing?

SOAR has three main areas of focus*:

  1. EXPLORE – Psychosocial and Lab-based assessments – We use one-on-one interviews to capture a past history of abuse, quantify brain injury severity, and explore mental health issues and areas such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety resilience and quality of life. We also use a series of lab-based tests to gauge a variety of physiological and behavioural functions and responses.
  2. EDUCATE – Education and Training – We use an integrated knowledge translation approach that ensures education and training tools are designed to ensure those who work with survivors of intimate partner violence have the knowledge and skills they need to support those who’ve suffered a brain injury. We also work to increase awareness of brain injury from intimate partner violence in the community at large.
  3. EMPOWER – Community-based support network – We provide resources to service providers from the health care, brain injury support, and gender-based violence sectors. We also bring them together in a comprehensive effort to ensure women identified as having experienced an IPV-related brain injury get the services and supports they need to move forward in healing.

* Our work is grounded in recognizing trauma, and its effects on survivors.

Current Projects

Exploring the intersection and effects of brain injury from intimate partner violence in women survivors (Dr. Shambhu Adhikari, post-doctoral research and teaching fellow) – This research applies a range of psychosocial and lab-based assessments to determine incidence of brain injury from intimate partner violence, and its effects on cognitive, behavioural and other functions. Psychosocial assessments explore things including past history of abuse, brain injury severity, adverse childhood experiences, substance use, anxiety, resilience and quality of life. Lab-based assessments include blood draws, blood pressure, hair samples, and cerebrovascular autoregulation measurement, and tests to gauge physiological and behavioural responses.

Testing and evaluating a community-based support network rehabilitation intervention in survivors of brain injury from intimate partner violence (Dr. Shambhu Adhikari, post-doctoral research and teaching fellow) – The community-based referral support network (CSN) is a partnership with a community brain injury support agency to provide targeted rehabilitation services to survivors of BI in IPV. The multi-faceted intervention is part-time over a six-month period and includes aerobic exercise, mindfulness/meditation, occupational therapy, counselling, cognitive exercises, and support from a trained participant navigator. Participants are surveyed for quality-of-life, resilience, and neurocognitive function among other factors before and after the intervention.

Testing and evaluating virtual reality training to educate police about brain injury from intimate partner violence (Stef Ashton, PhD student)– This research project is working to develop, launch, and evaluate a virtual reality training tool to educate police officers on the commonality and risks of brain injury in intimate partner violence from head impacts and strangulation. The goal is to ensure police are aware of the issue, know how to identify it, and are able to refer survivors to receive the medical care and other supports they need in the wake of a violent incident.

Intimate Partner Violence-caused Brain Injury in the 2S/LGBTQIA+ Community (Tori Stranges, PhD student) – Intimate partner violence discourses have predominantly centered heterosexual narratives and subsequently silenced queer survivors. Queer community members experience unique risk factors that put them at heightened risk for intimate partner violence and resulting brain injury such as minority stress, public ‘outness’, homophobia, stigma, discrimination and HIV status. This project aims to quantify brain injury in 2S/LGBTQIA+ survivors of intimate partner violence, and evaluate how queer survivors of IPV related BI navigate stigma and discrimination in emergency, medical and organizational health systems.

Prehospital management of intimate partner violence and resulting brain injury (Rory Marshall, PhD student) –This line of research aims to assess, direct, and improve prehospital management (paramedic response and care) in cases of intimate partner violence and resulting brain injury. Our goal is to characterize and explain the current state of prehospital care when handling cases of intimate partner violence and brain injury, identify inadequacies, inform and direct interventions to bridge those gaps, and ultimately improve the care and outcomes for survivors.

Effects of aerobic exercise in traumatic brain injury dependent posttraumatic stress disorders in women who experience intimate partner violence (Setareh Tehrani, PhD student) – This research focuses on the effects of moderate aerobic exercise training on posttraumatic stress disorders (PTSD) caused by traumatic brain injury (TBI) in women who experience intimate partner violence.  This study aims to evaluate if aerobic exercise as an accessible and low-cost treatment could modulate dysregulated HPA axis and inflammation and improve cognitive function in intimate partner violence survivors who experience TBI-related PTSD.

Hair Cortisol and HPA Axis Dysfunction in Survivors of IPV-Related Brain Injury (Bradi Lorenz, PhD student) – This research project aims to explore the relationships between IPV-related brain injury and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysfunction in a population of female survivors of IPV. This study will use hair and blood samples to quantify stress hormones — such as cortisol — and other biomarkers. The goal of this project is to provide insight into whether women who have experienced IPV-related brain injury are at increased risk of developing HPA-axis-related metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.

Intimate Partner Violence-caused Brain Injury in South Asian Women (Jaskarn Dhaliwal, Master’s student) – This project seeks to identify the prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV) -caused brain injury (BI) in South Asian women living in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, as well as its effects on factors including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and complex-PTSD. The research aims to make SA women more informed of BI symptoms post-IPV and make them more comfortable seeking help