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Facts & Figures

Violence against women is a serious issue in Canada

  • Half of Canadian women (51%) have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.1

  • Every minute of every day, a Canadian woman or child is being sexually assaulted.

  • One to two women are murdered by a current or former partner each week in Canada.

  • Spousal violence makes up the single largest category of convictions involving violent offences in non-specialized adult courts in Canada over the five-year period 1997/98 to 2001/02. Over 90% of offenders were male.

  • Thirty-six percent of female victims of spousal violence and less than 10% of victims of sexual assault reported these crimes to the police in 2004.

  • Physical and sexual abuse costs Canada over $4 billion each year (factoring into account social services, criminal justice, lost employment days and health care interventions).

  • Violence against women occurs across all ethnic, racial, religious, age, social and economic groups. Some women are more vulnerable however, and are more likely to experience violence, including women with disabilities, geographically-isolated women, young women and Aboriginal women.


Women are more likely than men to be victims of the most severe forms of violence

  • Women experience higher rates than men of sexual assault, stalking, serious spousal assaults and spousal homicide.

  • In 2004, there were twice as many women as there were men that were beaten by their partners; four times as many were choked.

  • Of the almost 34,000 victims of spousal violence reported in 2000, women accounted for the majority of victims (85%): a total of 28,633 victims.

  • Women are three times more likely than men to be physically injured by spousal violence and five times more likely to require medical attention.

  • Women are five times more likely to fear for their lives as a result of spousal violence: the violence or threat of violence was so severe that 38% of women feared for their lives compared with 7% of men.


Violence against women affects children

  • Every year in Canada, up to 360,000 children are exposed to domestic violence.

  • For children who are exposed to violence, consequences can include emotional trauma, depression, injury and permanent disability, as well as other physical, psychological and behavioural problems that can extend into adolescence and adulthood.

  • 58,486 women and 36,840 children sought refuge in one of 473 shelters across Canada between April 1, 2003 and March 31, 2004.

Why would a woman stay in an abusive relationship?

  • Leaving a violent relationship is the most dangerous time for a woman: she may fear for her safety and her children’s safety if she leaves.

  • Some victims never tell anyone about the abuse: they may feel ashamed or embarrassed, or fear being stigmatized by others.

  • He may have promised to change, or kill himself if she leaves.

  • She may live in an isolated area, or be socially-isolated, and lack access to information, resources and support.

  • She may face communication, language or cultural barriers.

  • She may be economically dependent on her partner and fear poverty for herself and her children.

  • Emotional abuse may have worn down her self-confidence.

  • She may think the abuse is her fault, because her partner tells her it is. To accept that “no matter what she does, she can’t win” feels like she has no control over her life. It may be easier to think it is somehow her fault. If she changes, maybe he will too.

  • She may have strong beliefs about keeping family together, or may experience similar pressure from relatives.

  • She may be reluctant to report the abuse to the police, either because she fears retaliation, does not believe that involving the criminal justice system can help, or fears losing her children.


Shelters for abused women do more than provide shelter!

  • Shelters for abused women do more than provide emergency housing and food for women and their children: they offer counseling and support to help women rebuild their lives, programming for children who have witnessed violence to help them heal, legal advice, and assistance finding affordable housing. Many shelters also raise awareness in their communities about domestic violence.

  • The cost of operating shelters for abused women in Canada totals more than $135 million each year.

  • Shelters play a critical role in stopping violence against women, but are only part of the solution. Support for women involves a wide range of services and programs that both prevent abuse (e.g. teaching youths about healthy relationships) and help abused women rebuild their lives after violence.

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