Kwantlen Polytechnic University instructor Dr. Balbir Gurm. (submitted photo)

‘Relationship violence pandemic’ explored in new e-book co-authored by KPU prof

‘I want everyone to understand the issue, its prevalence and ways to address it,’ says Dr. Balbir Gurm

A new e-book authored by a team led by a Kwantlen Polytechnic University instructor aims to end “the relationship violence pandemic,” especially during COVID-19.

The e-book, called Making Sense of a Global Pandemic: Relationship Violence & Working Together Towards a Violence Free Society, was written by Dr. Balbir Gurm along with Glaucia Salgado, Jennifer Marchbank and Sheila Early.

The text draws on the expertise of those working to address relationship violence in the Surrey, Delta and Langley area.

“I wanted to bring a critical comprehensive understanding of relationship violence to not only those who work in the anti-violence sector but to academics, policymakers, and the general public,” Gurm says. “I want everyone to understand the issue, its prevalence and ways to address it.”

The e-book, posted to, defines relationship violence, looks at the statistics and the healthcare response, and examines how to reduce and eliminate violence in relationships along with addressing violence against different ages and genders. The book also addresses violence in Indigenous communities, refugee/immigrant communities, LGBQT2S1A+ relationships, post-secondary institutions and the workplace.

Gurm founded the Network to Eliminate Violence in Relationships (NEVR), a team working to address relationship violence. She says they wrote the book because relationship violence hasn’t received the attention it needs despite the World Health Organization recognizing freedom from interpersonal violence as a basic human right.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic violence calls are up, raising fears amongst groups like NEVR that those who need help might not be receiving that help.

“The increase is because one of the contributing factors in relationship violence is isolation,” Gurm noted. “If the person abusing you is always present, it is difficult to get help.

“Relationship violence is a result of multiple impacts, such as taken-for-granted inequalities, policies and practices that accept sexism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia and ageism. It can span the entire age spectrum and it may start in-utero and end with the death of the victim.”

A virtual launch for the e-book was held in July.

• Meantime, Kwantlen Polytechnic University researcher Dr. Asma Sayed has been named a Canada Research Chair (CRC) in South Asian literary and cultural studies, in a Tier 2 Chair position.

The CRC Program supports more than 2,200 chairs across Canada in research and studies across a variety of disciplines. This grant will provide $600,000 to support Sayed’s research over the next five years, with KPU co-sponsoring the position.

“With three out of five KPU campuses in Surrey, Asma’s focus on South Asian literary and cultural studies is highly relevant to our communities,” stated Dr. Deepak Gupta, associate vice-president of Research at KPU.

As an English faculty member specializing in postcolonial studies, Sayed is one of Canada’s leading researchers in literary narratives of exile and displacement from South Asia and East Africa. She is also versed in feminist literary and cultural studies related to these areas and in Indian cinema, particularly Bollywood, India’s Hindi language film industry.

In her role as a Canada Research Chair, Sayed will lead projects that include digitally archiving South Asian artistic productions from 1910 to 2010, a period of historic importance concerning the South Asian diaspora in Canada. She will translate works written by Canadian writers of South Asian origin in their heritage languages, such as Hindi and Gujarati, into English.

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