By: C Icart, Staff Writer
Dr. Alexandra Lysova is the 2022 recipient of the Nora and Ted Sterling Prize in Support of Controversy. The associate professor in the SFU School of Criminology earned this prize for her research on intimate partner violence and family violence against men and boys.
Since 1993, the Sterling Prize has been “committed to recognizing work that provokes and contributes to the understanding of controversy.” Lysova understands her work could be considered controversial because it goes against gender stereotypes. When men are often portrayed as perpetrators of family violence, it reinforces the idea they cannot be victims of abuse, she explained.
Lysova aims to challenge assumptions in society and within the research area of domestic violence. She recognizes “family violence is a relatively new topic in criminology,” and explained this area of research was previously referred to as “violence against women.” She focuses on paying attention to the violence that is ignored and obscured. “We do not hear voices of men who are abused.”
Lysova began studying family dynamics when she first became interested in psychology as an undergraduate student in Russia. She wanted to understand family violence as she said she comes from a supportive family. As she dove deeper into the topic, she found “the more you study this, the more questions you have. And then you realize how important this topic is, how many people suffer, and how much you want to prevent it in the families.”
According to Lysova, violence against women “is a very important issue to discuss, but it’s only part of the problem.” Acknowledging that men can be abuse victims will make us “better at preventing violence, at treating victims and treating perpetrators, and reducing the weight of violence in our families.” This starts by recognizing and addressing the barriers men victims face when seeking care. Lysova has found that some men “reject the entire idea that they are being abused.” It can be challenging for men to find spaces like shelters.
When Lysova spoke to men through her research, she found some knew they were victims but didn’t know how to reach out.
For her, intimate partner violence and intimate partner homicide is a complex issue that requires a solution more comprehensive than teaching dominant men to not control women. Many factors beyond dominance can create this dynamic. Lysova noted situational factors, including financial burden and violence from women are also important to consider in treatment of partner violence and domestic homicide.
This is a conversation Lysova will be continuing to have during her lecture on October 19 at the Wosk Center for Dialogue in Vancouver. Registration is free and the event will also be streamed virtually with closed captioning.