Alexandra Lysova

Study program:
Ph.D. Criminology
Current affiliation:
University of Toronto

Alexandra is researching women's attitudes in situations of recurring domestic violence

Born and raised in the Russia’s Far East during the violent 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union, 2011 Trudeau scholar Alexandra Lysova became interested in studying homicide, family violence and child abuse in Russia and internationally. Based on an interactional perspective that integrates competing views on intimate partner violence, Lysova’s research examines the heterogeneity of violent types and women’s contributions to the dynamic nature of violence in intimate relationships. Lysova is a professor of criminology at Simon Fraser University. 

Doctoral research

Women's Involvement in Intimate Partner Violence: Dynamics of Escalation and Desistance

Women's involvement in intimate partner violence (IPV) remains an issue requiring further exploration. Despite some perspectives that question women's ability to engage in violence as active, rational human subjects, recent studies recognize the importance of exploring women's contributions to the dynamic nature of violence in intimate relationships. Alexandra Lysova's doctoral research aims to identify patterns of escalation in a single conflict and patterns of escalation or desistance across successive conflicts based on an interactional, dynamic perspective that integrates competing views on IPV, such as family violence and feminist perspectives. She assumes violent dynamics may escalate, remain stable over time, or desist depending on police intervention, and the structure (including power, gender, and economic inequalities) and the quality of the relationship. The data for Alexandra's research come from interviews with incarcerated women about their lives in the three years prior to their incarceration. The longitudinal data and multi-level design lend themselves to hierarchical linear modelling, which will allow Alexandra to assess the independent contributions of individual and relationship characteristics to the dynamics of women's involvement in IPV.

Alexandra Lysova became interested in examining crime, violence and victimization in her early teenage years in Russia when she was exposed to violence. Even though the crime rate in her home city in the Far East of Russia was already very high in the Soviet times, it increased dramatically after the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Alexandra's personal fears of crime, her search for answers to many questions about crime, and her desire to help crime victims led her to the Department of Psychology and Social Work at the Far Eastern National University. After graduating with honours, Alexandra decided to pursue an academic career and entered graduate school in sociology with the strong intention to launch one of the first studies in Russia of the scope of intimate violence and the role of experts in dealing with victims of violence. Her studies, based on police statistics and forensic psychiatry reports, showed that over a third of all homicides in Russia are committed by spouses or intimate partners.  Moreover, Alexandra's professional training in Rational Emotive Behavioural psychotherapy at the Albert Ellis Institute in New York City allowed her to observe the escalation of violent dynamics to severe violence in dating and marital couples on the individual level. 

Alexandra has looked for the opportunities to examine the problem of intimate violence at both the macro and micro levels and from an international perspective. To that end, she has worked collaboratively on three cross-cultural studies on dating violence, corporal punishment, and sexual victimization, all of which helped her to explore the social, cultural and organizational roots of violence. Alexandra also has been actively involved in international communication and collaboration with leading sociologists and criminologists as a Kennan Institute scholar in Washington D.C., a Fulbright scholar at New York University, a visiting scholar through the German Chancellor Scholarship (Alexander von Humboldt Foundation) at the Max Plank Institute in Germany, and a visiting scholar through the Carnegie Research Fellowship Program at the University of New Hampshire. Alexandra holds the Medal for the Excellence in Scholarship given by the Russian Academy of Sciences. She has presented her work at international conferences and published in peer-reviewed journals in Russian, English and German.