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Sterling Prize recipient Alexandra Lysova shrugs off controversy by keeping focus on victims

August 26, 2022

To Alexandra Lysova, there is nothing controversial about studying male victims of domestic violence.

Content warning: domestic violence

Where some are reluctant to even acknowledge the subject and others are quick to take sides (especially if it’s a story involving celebrities), the Simon Fraser University criminologist only sees statistics and victims in need of support.

Lysova is the 2022 recipient of the Nora and Ted Sterling Prize in Support of Controversy for her years of dedicated research in a field that can sometimes be fraught with polarizing and politicized debate.

The Sterling Prize was first awarded through the Office of the Provost and Vice-President Academic in 1993 and remains committed to recognizing work that provokes and contributes to the understanding of controversy, while presenting new ways of looking at the world and challenging complacency.

Alexandra Lysova

“In my work, I started to look at the violence against women and children, but I heard men’s voices as well. I’ve seen this in the statistics, that there are men who experience abuse, and I was surprised to see how much this topic was avoided and was not discussed,” Lysova says. “I think if we stop talking about the issue, it does not go away. It stays with us. What’s the point of playing politics around this if it doesn’t help us prevent abuse?”

Lysova will receive the Sterling Prize and give a lecture on these issues at an award ceremony hosted by SFU Public Square on Wednesday, Oct. 19 at the Wosk Centre for Dialogue in Vancouver.

To register, visit the Sterling Prize award ceremony event page.

Lysova says her work is focused on finding ways to prevent all forms of intimate partner violence, including violence against women, and the recognition that comes with the Sterling Prize helps steel her resolve.

“It’s a great honour to be the recipient of the Sterling Prize. I think it will be, in some ways, easier for me to keep up with my work because I do face some resistance studying this issue,” she says. “It could be less challenging to study some mainstream issues, but to be true to yourself you have to ask difficult questions even though you know there will be resistance.”

At the heart of it, Lysova says she feels great empathy for the male victims she works with and interviews as part of her research.

She acknowledges that women are most often victims of the most extreme forms of domestic violence and need support and services. But male victimization remains a hidden issue, Lysova says, and men on the receiving end of violence and abuse often find themselves afraid to speak out for being ridiculed, and struggle to find any supports.

“I really believe what we’re doing will help some people,” she says. “I see the real change in people’s lives and that’s what keeps me working on this.”


If you've experienced violence, here are some places to go for help: