Ramona Alaggia

Professor; Factor-Inwentash Chair in Children’s Mental Health; Cross-appointed to the Women and Gender Studies Institute; B.A./B.S.W. - McMaster University; M.S.W. - University of Toronto; Ph.D. - University of Toronto
Phone Number: 
(416) 978-1923
Office Location: 

Room 512

Research Interests: 

Resilience and Children Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence: Safe, non-violent, nurturing families and communities are the bedrock of healthy child development. Shining a spotlight on the impact of childhood abuse, child sexual abuse, and gender-based violence exposure on children and youth is at the heart Dr. Alaggia’s research. She leads the Make Resilience Matter for Children Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence initiative that involves local agency partners, with the Center for Research in Families and Relationships, University of Edinburgh, and funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).  The goal of the project is to examine the impact on children who are exposed to intimate partner violence and to identify important resilience factors and processes. This research is revealing that some of the differential outcomes seen in children exposed to adverse experiences can potentially be explained by certain protective mechanisms and processes that make some kids more resilient. This project builds on previous research findings from Dr. Alaggia’s SSHRC-funded work.

Child Sexual Abuse Disclosure Processes: In particular Dr. Alaggia has developed models of child sexual abuse disclosure that are being used by researchers locally and in the US and UK. Many Ways of Telling about disclosing child sexual abuse expands the field’s understanding of these processes.  Important psychological, familial, cultural and environmental factors that promote and/or inhibit disclosure of child sexual abuse are identified through this research. She is currently working with Dr. Collin-Vezina at McGill University on a new study examining child sexual abuse disclosure in youth ages 14-24, Uncovering Pathways and Processes of Sexual Abuse Disclosure in Youth. A second study has further examined the policy and practice barriers to disclosure of abuse of women. Disclosure – for a child or a woman to tell someone that they are being abused – is a critical first step to end the abuse, to address the immediate effects and to limit the likelihood of a negative long-term outcome. Together, these findings have helped direct sound social work practice from a feminist lens and a children’s rights perspective.

Children’s Mental Health Services: Dedicated to working with agencies to help develop and improve their interventions Dr. Alaggia has provided bi-annual seminars by leading scholars on timely topics. Through the Chair she has helped to build knowledge for practitioners working in the field of children’s mental health in supporting prevention programs for parents, and scientific evaluation of their effectiveness in reducing child abuse, fostering child well-being, and promoting positive parenting practices for vulnerable children affected by violence. Dr. Alaggia applies a trauma-informed, strengths-based perspective within a social-ecological framework. She has presented her research across Canada and internationally in countries such as Scotland, Ireland, Italy, Germany and the United States. Dr. Alaggia is also the co-editor, with Cathy Vine, of a ground-breaking book, Cruel but not Unusual: Violence in Canadian Families, now in its second edition.




Dr. Alaggia’s work is focused on mitigating the long term effects of trauma, violence and abuse on children and youth Through her studies on gender and violence; child sexual abuse disclosures and mental health effects; intimate partner violence and structural barriers she promotes ways to foster resilience processes in children and youth exposed to violence, and advocates for the use of trauma informed approaches for service delivery.

Dr. Alaggia holds the Factor-Inwentash Chair in Children’s Mental Health, contributing to leadership in research and evaluation on the wellbeing of children, youth and their families. This Chair supports prevention and intervention programs, and helps develop new innovative models of service to enhance children’s mental health.  The Chair provides training on trauma and resilience informed approaches to children’s mental health services for ensuring leading edge research for families, communities and systems to support the optimal growth of children.


Cruel but not Unusual: Violence in Canadian Families by Alaggia, R. & Vine, C. (Eds.) 2nd Ed. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

Book Chapters: 

Alaggia, R., & Csiernik, R. (2017). Coming home: Rediscovering the family in addictions counselling. In Csiernik, R. & Rowe, W. (Eds.) Responding to the oppression of addictions: Canadian social work perspectives (3rd ed.).  Toronto: Canadian Scholar’s Press.

Alaggia, R. & Maiter, S. (2012). Domestic Violence and Child Abuse: Issues for Immigrant and Refugee Families. In Alaggia, R., & Vine, C., Cruel but not Unusual: Violence in Canadian Families, 2nd Edition, Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

Jenney, A. & Alaggia, R. (2012). Children’s Exposure to Domestic Violence: Integrating Policy, Research, and Practice to Address Children’s Mental Health. In Alaggia, R., & Vine, C., Cruel but not Unusual: Violence in Canadian Families, 2nd Edition, Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

Maiter, S., Alaggia, R., & Mutta, B. (2013). Double Jeopardy: Racialized Families and Failure to Protect. pp. 81-118. In Carlton, R., Krane, J., Lapierre, S., Richardson, C., Strega, S. (Eds). Failure to Protect: Moving Beyond Gendered Responses. BC: Fernwood Publishing.

Francis, A., Alaggia, R. & Csiernik, R. (2010). Multiple barriers: The intersection of substance abuse in the lives of women disclosing and seeking help for intimate partner violence, In Csiernik, R. & Rowe, W. (Eds.) Responding to the Oppression of Addictions: Canadian Social Work Perspectives. 2nd edition. Toronto: Canadian Scholar’s Press.

Publications In Refereed Journals: 

Alaggia, R., Collin-Vézina, D., Lateef, R. (2017 on-line). Facilitators and barriers to child sexual abuse (CSA) disclosures: A research update (2000-2016). Trauma, Violence & Abuse. doi: 10.1177/1524838017697312

Alaggia R., Maiter, S., & Jenney, A. (2017). In whose words? Struggles and strategies of service providers working with immigrant clients with limited language abilities in the violence against women sector and child protection services. Child and Family Social Work, 22(1), 472-481.

Jenney, A., Alaggia, R., & Niepage, M. (2016). “The lie is that it’s not going to get better”: Narratives of resilience from childhood exposure to Intimate partner violence: Narratives of resilience from child exposure to intimate partner violence. International Journal of Child and Adolescent Resilience, 4(1), 64-76.

Alaggia, R., & Donohue, M. (Forthcoming). Take these broken wings and learn to fly: Applying resilience concepts to social work practice with children exposed to intimate partner violence. Smith College Studies in Social Work.

Azzopardi, C., Alaggia, R., & Fallon, B. (In press) From Freud to Feminism: Gendered constructions of blame across theories of child sexual abuse. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse.

Alaggia, R., Gadalla, T., Shlonsky, A., Jenney, A., & Daciuk, J. (2015). Does differential response make a difference: Examining domestic violence cases in child protection services. Child and Family Social Work, 20(1), 83-95.

Alaggia, R., & Mishna, F. (2014). Self psychology and male child sexual abuse: Healing relational betrayal. Clinical Social Work Journal. 2(4), 398-415.

Logie, C., Alaggia, R., & Rwigema, M.J. (2014). A social ecological approach to understanding correlates of lifetime sexual assault among sexual minority women in Toronto, Canada: Results from a cross-sectional internet-based survey. Health Education Research.

Craig, S. L., McInroy, L., Alaggia, R., & McCready, L. (2014). Like picking up a seed, but you haven’t planted it”: Queer youth analyze the It Gets Better Project. International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies. 1: 204–219.

Alaggia, R., Gadalla, T., Shlonsky, A., Jenney, A., & Daciuk, J. (2013). Does Differential Response Make a Difference:  Examining Domestic Violence Cases in Child Protection Services. Child & Family Social Work. DOI: 10.1111/cfs.12058.

Regehr, C., Alaggia, R., Dennis, J., Pitts, A. & Saini, M. (2013). Interventions to Reduce Distress in Adult Victims of Rape and Sexual Violence: A Systematic Review. Research on Social Work Practice, 23(3) pp. 255 – 263.

Alaggia, R., & Mishna, F. (2013). Self Psychology and Male Child Sexual Abuse: Healing Relational Betrayal. Clinical Social Work Journal. 36(3), 265-275.

Martin, J.J. & Alaggia, R. (2013). Sexual Abuse Images in Cyberspace: Expanding the Ecology of the Child, Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 22(4), 398-415.

Alaggia, R., Regehr, C., & Jenney, A. (2012). Risky Business: An Ecological Analysis of Intimate Partner Violence Disclosure. Research on Social Work Practice, 22(3), 301-12.

Alaggia, R. (2010). An Ecological Analysis of Child Sexual Abuse Disclosure: Considerations for Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, (19)1, 32-39.

Alaggia, R., Lambert, L., & Regehr, C. (2009). Where Is the Justice? Parental Experiences of the Canadian Justice System in Cases of Child Sexual Abuse. Family Court Review, Vol. 24, No. 4, 634-649.

Alaggia, R., Regehr, C., & Rischynski, G. (2009). Intimate Partner Violence and Immigration Laws in Canada: How Far Have We Come? International Journal of Psychiatry and the Law, 32 (6), 335-341.

Maiter, S., Stalker, C., & Alaggia, R. (2009). The Experiences of Minority Immigrant Families Receiving Child Welfare Services: Understanding Risk and Protective Factors, Families in Society, 90(1), 28-36.

Alaggia, R. & Millington, G. (2008) Male child sexual abuse: A phenomenology of betrayal. Clinical Journal of Social Work, 36(3), 265-275.

Dylan, A., Regehr, C, & Alaggia, R. (2008) And Justice for All?: Aboriginal Victims of Sexual Violence, Violence Against Women, 14(6), 678-696.

Regehr, C., Alaggia, R., Saini, M. & Lambert, L. (2008) Perspectives of Justice for Victims of Sexual Violence. Victims and Offenders 3(1), 99-113.

Alaggia, R., Jenney, A., Mazucca, J. & Redmond, M. (2007). In whose best interest? A Canadian case study of the impact of child welfare policies in cases of domestic violence, Journal of Brief Therapy and Crisis Intervention, 1-16.

Alaggia, R. & Turton, J. (2005). Against the odds: The impact of woman abuse on maternal response to disclosure of child sexual abuse. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 14 (4), 95-113.

Alaggia, R. & Kirshenbaum, S. (2005). Speaking the unspeakable: Exploring the impact of family dynamics on child sexual abuse disclosures. Families in Society, 86(2), 227-234.

Alaggia, R. (2005). Disclosing the trauma of child sexual abuse: A gender analysis. Journal of Loss and Trauma ,10 (5), 453-470.

Alaggia, R. (2004). Many ways of telling: Expanding conceptualization of child sexual abuse disclosure. Child Abuse & Neglect: An International Journal, 28(11), 1213-1227.

Alaggia R. (2002). Balancing acts: Re-conceptualizing support in maternal response to intrafamilial child sexual abuse. Clinical Social Work Journal, (30) 1, 41-56.