Research Associates

Guila BenchimolGuila Benchimol 

Guila Benchimol is a PhD graduate from the University of Guelph. Her research examines crimes committed both in and outside of insular communities. Her dissertation project is examining how some victims of sexual violence go on to become anti-sexual violence advocates or activists. Under the supervision of Dr. Myrna Dawson, she studied the various processes that survivors experience, including victimizations and disclosures, which lead them to advocate. Her M.A. thesis examined how the 2011 Kletzky murder in Brooklyn, New York’s Orthodox Jewish community affected community members as well as whether it was a catalyst in pushing the boundaries that the larger Orthodox Jewish community maintains. It also analyzed whether community members were united or divided in how to address communal concerns that arose following the crime. Guila serves as a research assistant for various projects for the Centre and has worked for the Canadian federal government at the Competition Bureau. She has also worked with victims of crime at the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic. Her research interests have been influenced by her first career as a Jewish educator. Guila was the Director of Judaic Studies at Tiferes Bais Yaakov and the Managing Director for the National Conference of Synagogue Youth in Toronto. Guila is a Wexner Graduate Fellow/Davidson Scholar and a consultant for Jewish institutions on their community safety and protection policies. She has published several op-eds about sexual violence and sexual violence in the Jewish community for Huffington Post Canada, The Jewish Week, Canadian Jewish News, Alt-Muslimah, Times of Israel, and more. She has been invited to address rabbinical students, advocates, mental health professionals, academics, and Jewish and Muslim communities in Canada, the United States, and Israel about her work

Claudette Dumont-SmithClaudette Dumont-Smith

Claudette Dumont-Smith has been actively involved in the field of Aboriginal health since 1974. She is a registered nurse and has acted in various executive capacities with the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada both as a board member and as its’ first executive director and, more recently, as executive director of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, a position she held until her retirement in 2016. During her 43-year career, Claudette worked as a consultant for various National Aboriginal Organizations as well as for Aboriginal organizations at the regional and local levels. Ms. Dumont-Smith has moderated health conferences across Canada and has collaborated on numerous papers and manuals on Aboriginal health and violence against women and children. Ms. Dumont-Smith served as a member of the Aboriginal circle of the Canadian Panel on Violence Against Women, a blue-ribbon panel initiated by the Government of Canada in 1991. In addition, she served as Associate Commissioner for the National Aboriginal Child Care Commission of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, formerly known as the Native Council of Canada and, was appointed as a Commissioner on the Indian Residential School Commission for one year. Ms. Dumont-Smith is also an accomplished writer/researcher whose articles on a wide range of topics have been published by the Health Council of Canada, the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada, among others. Ms. Dumont-Smith holds her Master's degree in Public Administration from Queen's University, Kingston and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Québec, Gatineau. In October 2017, Ms. Dumont-Smith was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) degree from the University of Guelph.

Dr. Jordan FairbairnDr. Jordan Fairbairn

Dr. Jordan Fairbairn is an Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology at King’s University College, Western University, London, Ontario. Jordan’s research focuses broadly on gender, violence, and media, with a focus on social responses to violence against women and the role of digital technology in violence and violence prevention. She has published in various journals, most recently Critical Sociology and Feminist Criminology, as well as various edited collections. From 2015-2017, Jordan was a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children (CREVAWC) at Western University. Jordan completed her PhD at Carleton University, where her doctoral research explored feminist public sociology and how stakeholders involved in violence against women prevention use and experience social media. Jordan has previously collaborated with the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW) as Chair of the Media Hub Advisory Committee to create resources with and for journalists reporting on violence against women, and as lead investigator on Crime Prevention Ottawa funded research on sexual violence, social media, and youth. Jordan received her MA from the University of Guelph and this research, published in Feminist Criminology, explored Canadian news portrayals of domestic homicide and how this coverage has changed over time. In her current work on domestic homicide prevention, Jordan is a collaborator with the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative with Vulnerable Populations (CDHPIVP).


Tina HottonTina Hotton

Tina Hotton is a Research Associate with the Centre for the Study of Social and Legal Responses to Violence at the University of Guelph. She is also a Regional Manager with the Research Data Centre (RDC) Program, Statistics Canada. Over the past 18 years she has worked both as a researcher with the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS) and an analyst at the McMaster and University of Toronto RDCs. She is the author of many quantitative research articles for Statistics Canada, most recently on topics ranging from women’s experiences with criminal justice system, dating violence, and homicide trends in Canada. Her current research interests focus on homicide victimization of Indigenous women and girls in Canada, and the impact of public policy on both the prevalence and criminal justice system response to incidents of intimate partner violence.  Hotton holds a Master’s and Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Queen’s University, Kingston. She is also a PhD student in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Guelph. 


Anthony PiscitelliAnthony Piscitelli

Anthony Piscitelli is Professor with Conestoga College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning in the Public Service program. He is also a PhD student in the Department of Geography at Wilfrid Laurier University. His doctoral research focuses primarily upon the spatial distribution of crime and victimization. Anthony Master’s research focused upon the connection between civic engagement and fear of crime. Anthony spent seven years with the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council (WRCPC) where he authored, co-authored and supervised the writing of numerous research reports. His research with WRCPC examined a number of crime related topics including crossover children, gaps in services for victims and offenders of violence, and fear of crime. He also supervised a number of placement students with the WRCPC which resulted in various research reports and articles examining topics such as fear of crime, barriers to calling 911 in overdose emergencies and violence prevention initiatives. Anthony is an Associate with the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy. For his PhD, Anthony is working under the supervision of Dr. Sean Doherty, Wilfrid Laurier University.


Julie PoonJulie Poon

Dr. Julie Poon is a Postdoctoral Fellow and National Research Coordinator for the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative for Vulnerable Populations (, a five-year SSHRC funded project, co-directed by Dr. Myrna Dawson, Director, Centre for the Study of Social and Legal Responses to Violence, University of Guelph and Dr. Peter Jaffe, Academic Director, Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children, Western University. Dr. Poon’s research examines violence against women and intimate partner violence with a focus on women’s use of force and batterer intervention programs. Dr. Poon completed her PhD in Sociology at the University of Guelph examining how women who were court mandated to attend Ontario’s Partner Assault Response program interpreted their use of force and whether and how the program addressed their lived realities. She was lead author on a study examining factors increasing the likelihood of sole and dual charging of women in cases of intimate partner violence which was published in Violence Against Women. Most recently, she co-authored a chapter comparing domestic/family violence death reviews at an international level which was published in Domestic Homicides and Death Reviews: An International Perspective.


Gursharan SandhuGursharan Sandhu (Master's Student, Criminology and Criminal Justice Policy, University of Guelph)

Gursharan Sandhu is a Master’s student in the Criminology and Criminal Justice Policy program at the University of Guelph. Gursharan graduated with his B.A. from the University of Toronto (with a High Distinction Award), completing a double-specialist in Criminology and Socio-Legal Studies and Sociology. Gursharan will be examining parliamentary discussions and court decisions on violence against women, particularly for ‘honour’-based crime in Canada. His research is exploring how ‘honour’-based crime is treated in the criminal justice system and in social policy to create an evidence-based approach on how to deal with this specific type of domestic violence. At the CSSLRV, he is working with Dr. Dawson on two SSHRC-funded projects - the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative with Vulnerable Populations and the Geography of Justice project.



Jessica WhiteheadJessica Whitehead

Jessica Whitehead is currently a Master’s of Social Work (MSW) student at McGill University. Prior to this, she received a B.A. from the University of Waterloo's Arts and Business Co-operative program with Joint Honours in Legal Studies and Sociology in 2013 and an M.A. in Criminology and Criminal Justice Policy at the University of Guelph. Her M.A. research focused on police responses to incidents of intimate partner violence (IPV) that occur within same-sex relationships and compared them with occurrences between heterosexual partners. It explored the influences of heteronormativity and hegemonic masculinity on same-sex IPV reporting, recognition, and responses. Jessica is currently expanding upon this research with Dr. Myrna Dawson and Tina Hotton. At the same time, she is also working with Dr. Dawson to examine the effect of child presence and proximity on IPV sentencing in Canada. This research aims to determine whether the likelihood or length of sentences for IPV offences will be influenced if either of the parties involved is a parent or if there is a child witness to the incident.