Dr. Kathryn Bell and students research "invisible violence" faced by members of LGBTQ2S+ community

CityNews and OMNI's "Behind Closed Doors" investigative series chronicles family violence issues in a variety of settings. In a new piece, Faiza Amin and Meredith Bond speak with Acadia's Dr. Kathryn Bell about the violence faced by members of the LGBTQ2S+ community.

Visit CityNews to read the article or watch the video. Please note that the article and video describe abuse and may be disturbing to some readers.

Dr. Kathryn Bell is an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department. We asked her some questions about her work:

Your educational background?

Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Western Michigan University

What courses do you teach at Acadia?

Abnormal Psychology, Theories of Psychotherapy, a special topics course in applied psychology on science and pseudoscience in clinical psychology, and a graduate-level psychotherapy course. Next year I will also be teaching Clinical Psychology for undergraduate students.

Your research focus?

I conduct research on risk and resiliency factors associated with interpersonal violence, including intimate partner violence and sexual assault.

Why this topic currently?

At the onset of the pandemic, concerns were raised in the media about the potential for worsening mental health problems and relational conflict to arise, due, in part, to increased stress, interpersonal strain, and social isolation brought on by the pandemic. Early on in the first pandemic wave, Dr. Diane Holmberg (also in the Psychology Department at Acadia) and I began collaborating on a project to examine the impact of the pandemic on mental health and relationship functioning in a US sample. This led to a collaborative project with Dr. Karen Blair (formerly at St. FX; now at Trent) on a larger COVID-19 project funded by a Nova Scotia COVID-19 Health Research Coalition grant examining mental and relational well-being among Nova Scotians and Canadians, in general, with a focus on how LGBTQ+ individuals were faring during the pandemic. Focusing on LGBTQ+ communities seemed particularly important, as individuals within these communities tend to have few social supports, experience greater health disparities and social isolation, and encounter higher rates of violence and victimization, all problems likely to be exacerbated by the pandemic.

Are students here involved in the research you are doing? How and why?

Yes, we have a team of undergraduate and graduate students from Acadia and other Canadian universities actively involved in this research. Acadia students include Kim Cadman, Abbey Miller, Nicola Irvin, Marissa Walter, Chelsea Hudson, and Courtney Gosselin. Students have an opportunity to get involved in all aspects of this research project, and they have played a vital role in assisting with database management, data analysis, report writing, and manuscript preparation. Several students presented preliminary project findings at a special COVID-19 Canadian Psychological Association virtual conference last summer. Two students, one of whom was recently awarded an HSRA for the summer 2021, will be doing honours theses during the upcoming academic year using data collected from this project.

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