Shame & Honour-Based Violence Awareness Tool

Domestic abuse is an attempt, act or intent of someone within a relationship where the relationship is characterized by intimacy, dependency or trust, to intimidate either by threat or by the use of physical force on another person or property. The purpose of the abuse is to control and / or exploit through neglect, intimidation, inducement of fear or by inflicting pain. Abusive behavior can take many forms including; verbal, physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, spiritual, economic, and the violation of rights. All forms of abusive behavior are ways in which one human being is trying to have control and / or exploit or have power over another.

- The Calgary Domestic Violence Committee

Shame and Honour based or Patriarchal based abuse is defined as:

“An incident or crime which has or may have been committed to protect or defend the honour of the family and or community”

Shame and Honour or Patriarchal based abuse occurs when a person is punished by their family/community for allegedly undermining what the family/community believe to be the correct code of behaviour.

It can be distinguished from other forms of abuse, as it is often committed with some degree of approval and/or collusion from family and/or community members.

Shame and Honour Based Violence (HBV) or Patriarchal Violence is increasingly being recognized in our community.  While it has many features in common with typical domestic violence cases, there are discrete features which require special considerations, adjustments to normal client service provision and safety planning activities

This education tool is available to assist frontline service providers and professionals (counsellors, social workers, psychologists, child and family service workers, healthcare professionals, education professionals, etc.) to make informed decisions regarding the presence of HBV concerns.  This is not a risk assessment tool or a clinically validated instrument, but a tool which can guide practitioners to pose additional questions, gain awareness, and make recommendations for their clients.  A positive finding suggests that additional considerations should be addressed during the assessment and safety planning stages such as, completing a clinically validated Shame and Honour Based Violence assessment (e.g. PATRIARCH Risk Assessment), consulting with your local cultural and shame and honour based violence advisors or your community treatment and intervention members.

In Calgary, a collaborative community of Shame and Honour Based Violence treatment and intervention professionals knowledgeable about Shame and Honour Based Violence has come together to develop this tool and to provide consultation or advice.  Their names and contact information are attached at the end of the education tool.

The following factors have been associated with cases of shame based violence.  While they are not predictive, their presence in cases of domestic violence, suggest, additional areas to be considered when constructing safety plans and intervention strategies with a client.  These factors should be considered and this may be a case of shame based violence.  If you have a positive response to this education tool, and upon identifying affirmative results, a more thorough assessment and consultation with shame based violence or culturally grounded treatment/intervention committee members would be indicated.

The Factors: 

  1. Rigid appliance of values, cultural norms, faith precepts, particularly in the face of opposing concepts or evidence.

    1. How wide is the cultural gap between abuser and victim’s views?

  2. Distorted, usually extreme, view of one’s culture / faith?

    1. Particularly regarding women’s role and place.

    2. Regarding normal socialization particularly for females and children/teens: e.g. Dating outside the culture, Sexual activity, Caste

  3. The family has original roots in a culture where shame and abuse is frequently used to change behaviour of family members.

  4. There are other persons, community members, extended family members involved in the case – encouraging or supporting abusive, violent or threatening behaviors.

  5. There is a high level of community economic interdependence predicated on family status (i.e. employment, trade, contracts, dowry).

  6. You believe there to be a credible threat of violence or abuse to one or more persons related to the case.

For affirmative responses, it is recommended you seek consultation within your organization or with a Shame and Honour Based Violence treatment or intervention community member to further supplement your threat assessment and safety planning strategies.


Defining features of Shame and Honour Based or Patriarchal Violence:

  1. There is a collective nature to the crime, where many members of an extended family may collude and act in concert.  In some cases involve family councils who decide and plan the best methods to act.

  2. The violence is rooted in the control of women, particularly their sexual behavior, which are believed to reflect on the entire family’s honour.  Family honour is often critical in communities with high levels of interdependence, and where employment, trade are mediated through family connections.  (

Here are some questions you might explore with your client to uncover the presence of attitudes, beliefs, or values indicative of HBV.  Please note the sensitive nature of these questions and take into account the clients’ values, and culture/beliefs.  If you have concerns, ask for supervision.   

  1. What are the rules in your family?  Are they different for boys and girls?

  2. How would you or your community or your parents respond if a person were to date outside an approved relationship?

  3. How would you or your community or your family respond if a person were to refuse to accept a forced marriage?

  4. How would you or your community respond if a person were to have sexual relations outside of an approved marriage / relationship?

  5. How would you describe your partner?  The root of violence can be seen in the language used to describe their partner, more often women.

  6. What would you do if your partner or child were to dress in non-traditional dress?

  7. How do you describe your parents?  Perception of parents – extreme perceptions.

  8. How do you think children should be disciplined if they get out of line?  How do you think sons/daughters should be disciplined?  Compare the differences.

  9. When you think about substance abuse, are substances, other than North American street drugs and alcohol, being used / abused i.e. Kat, coca leaf

Patriarch Risk Assessment training is available from Hart & Kropp through ProActive ReSolutions.  Goto

Calgary Shame and Honour Based Violence Treatment/Intervention Community Members

Jassim Al-Mosawi, Collaborative Counselling Services;, 403 477 4698

Christine Berry, Calgary Counselling Centre;, 403-691-5910

Naaz Kassam-Bhatia, Tran-sitions Counselling;, 403-291-5337

Calgary Police Service (Non-Emergency Contact);, 403-266-1234

Heather Storoziuk, Calgary Child & Family Services;, 403-652-8332

 Satinder Parmar, Probation;, 403-592-2738