Deborah Sinclair

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Deborah Sinclair
OccupationSocial worker
Known forExpertise in cases involving intimate partner violence

Deborah Sinclair is a Canadian social worker who has specialized in working with women who are victims of intimate partner violence.[1] She served as an expert witness in court cases where intimate partner violence has played a role. She has been working with victims of violence for over thirty years. [2]

In 1985, the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services published a 185-page manual Sinclair wrote, entitled Understanding Wife Assault A Training Manual for Counsellors and Advocates.[3][4] Lois Mitchell quotes Sinclair's book in the Baptist Atlantic: "Two-fifths of all homicides in Canada are between spouses. The vast majority of the victims are women.Those women who do kill their partners are usually acting in self-defence."[5] Transition House, a shelter in Newfoundland, quotes Sinclair's definition of abuse on its home page.[6] In her 1998 book, Search for a Safe Place, Vijay Agnew notes Sinclair's book does not address the complications of abuse in minority communities from different cultures.[7]

In 2002, Sinclair gave several days of testimony before the inquest into the deaths of Gillian and Ralph Hadley, a murder-suicide.[8] She noted that support for men at risk of abusing their partners was not available, unless they had already been charged with a violent crime.[citation needed]

In 2014, she was a witness in R. v. Hutt, a case in which a husband was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder,[9][10] and, in 2018, she was an expert witness for the prosecution in the trial against Joshua Boyle[1][11][12]


  1. ^ a b Kristy Nease (2019-03-25). "Joshua Boyle's trial opens with estranged spouse electing to lift publication ban". CBC News. Archived from the original on 2019-03-27. Retrieved 2019-03-27. The Crown's first witness, registered social worker Deborah Sinclair, testified in general terms Monday about abusive relationships and how victims of abuse and trauma behave, citing a report she prepared for the Crown.
  2. ^ "Threat Assessment and Risk Management in Domestic Violence Cases: An Overview of Ontario Justice and Community Collaboration for 2010 and Future Directions" (PDF). Centre for Research & Education on Violence against Women and Children. 2010. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-03-28. Retrieved 2019-03-27. Deborah Sinclair is a senior social worker, consultant, trainer and community organizer in independent practice in Toronto, Ontario. She has served as an expert witness in court cases, and in October 2002, testified as an expert witness at the inquest into the murder of Gillian Hadley and suicide of Ralph Hadley.
  3. ^ Deborah Sinclair (1985). Understanding Wife Assault A Training Manual for Counsellors and Advocates. Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services. ISBN 9780772905406. Archived from the original on 2019-03-28. Retrieved 2019-03-27.
  4. ^ "Deborah Sinclair leads the struggle to end domestic violence". The Globe and Mail. 2010-10-29. Archived from the original on 2019-03-28. Retrieved 2019-03-27. When Ms. Sinclair began her career nearly 30 years ago, there were few places for abused women and children to seek help, and social stigmas that put the victim at fault were still accepted. At her first job at Family Services Association of Metropolitan Toronto in the late 1970s, Ms. Sinclair co-founded the Domestic Violence Project, a community intervention model that set the groundwork for her manual, which is still used as a teaching tool both nationally and internationally for police officers and counsellors on the front lines of domestic violence intervention.
  5. ^ Lois Mitchell (December 2005). "Family Violence: Breaking the Silence" (PDF). Baptist Atlantic. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-01-08. Retrieved 2019-03-28.
  6. ^ "WIFE ABUSE: A Crime". Transition House. Archived from the original on 2017-05-28. Retrieved 2019-03-28. Deborah Sinclair, defines wife assault in Understanding Wife Assault, as "involving the intent by the husband to intimidate, either by threat or by use of physical force on the wife's person or property. The purpose of the assault is to control her behavior by the inducement of fear.
  7. ^ Vijay Agnew (1998). In Search of a Safe Place: Abused Women and Culturally Sensitive Services. University of Toronto Press. pp. 41, 74, 155. ISBN 9780802081148. Retrieved 2019-03-28. Sinclair, Deborah OR Deborah Sinclair Understanding Wife Assault.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ Peter Smalls (2002-12-01). "Don't let accused abusers free: Expert 'Contain' those who face charges, inquest told". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 2013-08-23. Retrieved 2019-03-27. Workers in the justice, women's shelter and children's aid systems who help abused women are "a beleaguered group" under tremendous stress, Sinclair said. "They don't feel that they have the resources to do the job, and we get a tragedy like this."
  9. ^ Kate Fitz-Gibbon; Sandra Walklate; Jude McCulloch; JaneMaree Maher, eds. (2018). Intimate Partner Violence, Risk and Security: Securing Women's Lives in a Global World. Routledge. ISBN 9781351791991. Retrieved 2019-03-27.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ Meghan Hurley (2014-12-22). "'A living horror': The tales of two abused women — and how one survived". Ottawa Citizen. Archived from the original on 2019-03-28. Retrieved 2019-03-27. Deborah Sinclair, a social worker and domestic violence expert who testified at Hutt's trial, compares the tactics abusers use with intimate partners to the way human traffickers groom victims. They become quickly, intensely involved, saying everything the partner wants to hear. It's called the entrapment stage, Sinclair says.
  11. ^ Christie Blatchford (2019-03-26). "BLATCHFORD: Neutrality of Crown witness questioned at start of Joshua Boyle trial". The Telegram. Archived from the original on 2019-03-28. Retrieved 2019-03-27. Thus far the only witness to testify has been Deborah Sinclair, a social worker-cum-feminist-activist Crown prosecutors want to have qualified as an expert in domestic violence and trauma. It appears, by the way Boyle's lawyer Lawrence Greenspon questioned Sinclair's credentials Monday, that he disputes both her expertise and neutrality.
  12. ^ Jim Bronskill (2019-03-29). "Assault trial begins for Joshua Boyle, former Afghanistan hostage". National Observer. Archived from the original on 2019-03-28. Retrieved 2019-03-27.