Measuring Violence Against Women Statistical Trends 2006 Catalogue no. 85-570-XIE

Measuring Violence Against Women Statistical Trends 2006 Catalogue no. 85-570-XIE
Catalogue no. 85-570-XIE
Measuring Violence
Against Women
Statistical Trends 2006
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Statistics Canada
Measuring Violence
Against Women
Statistical Trends 2006
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October 2006
Catalogue no. 85-570-XIE
ISSN 0-662-43928-7
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Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Tables of contents
Page
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Foreword
Executive summary
Findings
Prevalence and severity of violence against women
Impact of violence against women
Risk factors associated with violence against women
Institutional and community-based responses
Victims’ use of services
Violence against Aboriginal women
Violence against women in the territories
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Tables
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Estimated number and rate of spousal violence incidents against women and men 15 years of age and over,
past five years, 2004
Number of spousal homicides in Canada, the provinces and territories by sex of victim, 1975 to 2004
Economic costs of violence against women
Number of victim services in Canada, the provinces and territories, by type, 2002/2003
Number and proportion of male and female spousal violence cases, by offence type
Percentage of female victims of current spousal violence who reported to police in the previous year, by victim
characteristics, 2004
Percentage of spousal violence victims who reported to police, by incident characteristics, 2004
Annual number of women and children using shelters in the provinces and territories, by fiscal year
Use of victim services in the provinces, October 22, 2003
Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal victims of homicide in Canada, by sex and accused-victim relationship, 1997 to
2004
Victims of homicide in the territories and provinces, by accused-victim relationship, 1975 to 2004
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Figures
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Five-year rates of spousal assault, 1993, 1999 and 2004
One-year rates of spousal assault, 1993, 1999 and 2004
Five-year rates of spousal assault against women by province, 1999 and 2004
Types of spousal violence experienced by women and men, 2004
Women experience more serious violence than men, 2004
Changes in the severity of spousal assaults against women over time, 1993, 1999 and 2004
Number of intimate partner assaults reported to police by offender relationship to victim, 1998 to 2004
Rates of spousal homicide by sex of victim, 1975 to 2004
Percent distribution of persons accused of spousal homicide by gender and most serious violation, 1975 to
2004
Percentage of spousal homicides with a history of domestic violence between victim and offender, by offender
relationship to victim, 1991 to 2004
Average spousal homicide rates by province and territory, 1975 to 2004
Total sexual assaults and level I sexual assaults reported to police, Canada, 1983 to 2004
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Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Tables of contents – continued
Page
Figures – continued
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Level II and level III sexual assaults reported to the police, Canada, 1983 to 2004
Number of criminal harassment incidents reported to police, by offender relationship to victim, 1998 to 2004
Women more likely than men to experience stalking, past five years, 2004
Percentage of women and men aged 15 years and over who reported some form of stalking, by relationship
of stalker to victim, past five years, 2004
Percentage of women and men aged 15 years and over who reported some form of stalking, by type of stalking,
past five years, 2004
Female victims stalked by an ex-spouse are more likely to experience violence or threats, 2004
Psychological consequences of spousal violence victims, 2004
Impact of spousal violence for victims
Societal impacts of spousal violence
One-year rates of sexual assault and criminal harassment against women, by woman’s age, 2004
Rates of spousal homicide by age group and sex of victim, 1975 to 2004
Sexual offences recorded by police, by sex and age group of victims, 2004
Spousal homicide accused-victim relationships compared to the percentage distribution of marital status in
the general population, 1991 to 2004
Percentage of women assaulted by partners when psychological abuse was present (current partner), 2004
Percentage of women assaulted by partners when psychological abuse was present (previous partner), 2004
Five-year rates of spousal violence by visible minority status and sex of victim, 1999 and 2004
Five-year rates of spousal violence for immigrant women, 1999 and 2004
Five-year rates of psychological abuse against women by spousal partners, by type of abuse and visible
minority status, 2004
Five-year rates of psychological abuse against spousal partners, by type of abuse and immigrant status, 2004
Change in the number of shelters
Number of treatment programs for violent men
Convictions for crimes of violence, by offence type and offender-victim relationship, 1997/1998 to 2001/2002
Sentences in spousal violence cases compared to other cases, 1997/1998 to 2001/2002
Sentences in spousal violence cases, by sex of convicted person, 1997/1998 to 2001/2002
Mean prison and probation sentence length for violent crime cases, 1997/1998 to 2001/2002
Length of prison and probation sentences for spousal violence cases, by sex of convicted person, 1997/1998 to
2001/2002
Conviction rates in adult court for sexual assault and other violent crimes, 2003/2004
Percentage of cases with convictions in adult court resulting in a prison term, 2003/2004
Percentage of spousal violence victims who reported to police, by sex of victim, 1993, 1999 and 2004
Types of social services used by spousal violence victims
Annual number of women and children using shelters, Canada
Rates of women admitted to shelters for reasons of abuse, April 14, 2004, Canada, the provinces and territories
Use of victim services, October 22, 2003, Canada
Rates of spousal violence, by Aboriginal origin, 1999 and 2004
Seriousness of spousal assaults on women, by Aboriginal status, 1999 and 2004
Consequences of spousal violence for women, by Aboriginal status, 2004
Rates of psychological abuse by spousal partners, by type of abuse and Aboriginal status, 2004
Rates of spousal homicide, by sex of victim and Aboriginal status, 1997 to 2000
Percentage of Aboriginal women who used social services and reported spousal violence to the police, 2004
Rates of spousal assault in the territories, 2004
Rates of sexual offences per 100,000 population in Canada, the provinces and territories, 2004
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
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Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Tables of contents – concluded
Page
Figures – concluded
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Rates of sexual offences in the territories, 1983 to 2004
Homicide rates in the territories, by sex of victim, all ages, 1975 to 2004
Spousal homicide rates in the territories, by age group and sex of victim, 1975 to 2004
Use of victim services, October 22, 2003, Yukon Territory
Use of victim services, October 22, 2003, Northwest Territories
Conclusion
Methodology
Endnotes
Bibliography
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Appendices
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6
Economic equality indicators
Table A1.1 Income and earnings trends
Table A1.2 Women in justice-related occupations
Criminal Code Offences
Provincial/Territorial domestic violence legislation
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Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends
2006
By Holly Johnson, Statistics Canada
Violence against women is a persistent and ongoing problem in Canada and around the world. It affects women’s social
and economic equality, physical and mental health, well-being and economic security.
Decision-makers require a clear understanding of the nature and severity of social problems in order to develop effective
responses. In 2002, the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Status of Women Ministers released Assessing Violence Against
Women: A Statistical Profile. The Profile introduced a number of violence indicators that are intended to monitor changes
over time, serve as benchmarks, and highlight emerging problems. This updated edition revisits these indicators, expands
upon them, and assesses the current situation.
According to the Beijing Platform for Action adopted at the Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women in 1995:
Violence against women is an obstacle to the achievement of the objectives of equality, development and peace. Violence
against women both violates and impairs or nullifies the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental
freedoms. The long-standing failure to protect and promote those rights and freedoms in the case of violence against women
is a matter of concern to all States and should be addressed. (paragraph 112)
The Beijing Platform for Action also emphasized the importance of reliable statistical data in understanding violence against
women and recommended that work be done to:
promote research, collect data and compile statistics, especially concerning domestic violence relating to the prevalence of
different forms of violence against women, and encourage research into the causes, nature, seriousness and consequences
of violence against women and the effectiveness of measures implemented to prevent and redress violence against women.
(paragraph 129a)
Canadian governments have made important advancements in the availability of statistical data to describe the dimensions
and nature of violence against women, the impacts and consequences, societal responses and supports for victims, and
women’s use of criminal justice and other services. This document summarizes these data within a framework of indicators
on violence against women.
Why focus on violence against women?
Until recently, researchers and statistical agencies often gathered statistics generically, compiling data on violence regardless
of the gender of victims or offenders. This approach contributed to the development of general programs that addressed
violence in society as a whole.
Social program and policy developers have identified instances where programs for Canadians as a whole often fail
to consider the effect of gender. As an example, federal employment assistance programs are often only accessible to
Canadians who work full-time or who can take full-time training. Analysis of data by gender reveals that while one-third of
Canadian women voluntarily working part-time reported doing so in order to care for their children, only 4% of men gave this
as a reason (Marshall 2001). Women’s traditional role in society as caregivers often limits their ability to access programs
intended for all Canadians.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
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Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Generic programs meant to address violence against all Canadians risk failing to adequately address women’s experiences
of violence. Gender-specific data can pinpoint those areas where the need for support services is different for women and
men. It is also important to further disaggregate data (for example, by race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, socioeconomic
status or ability) in order to fully understand the situation of different groups of women.
Data that are made available by gender demonstrate the specific risk areas for men and women and highlight the need for
targeted programs to address violence for each gender. Men’s and boys’ experiences of violence are different than women’s
and girls’ in important ways. While men are more likely to be injured by strangers in a public or social venue, women are
in greater danger of experiencing violence from intimate partners in their own homes. Women are also at greater risk of
sexual violence. The fear of violence is more pervasive for women and can prevent them from taking part as full citizens in
their communities.
In addition to the negative effects for women themselves, the violence women experience at the hands of their intimate
partners can have profound effects on their children. Children who are exposed to violence in the home suffer from emotional
trauma, have poor educational outcomes, and are at increased risk of using violence to solve problems (Berman et al.
2004). Women experiencing violence from intimate partners are sometimes forced to flee their homes with their children,
which can result in unstable living situations and additional negative impacts on children.
Worldwide, violence against women is an impediment to women’s equality. According to the United Nations Population
Fund (2005):
Gender-based violence is perhaps the most wide-spread and socially tolerated of human rights violations. It both reflects and
reinforces inequities between men and women and compromises the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims.
The 1995 Federal Action Plan for Gender Equality emphasized the interconnections between equality and not only gender,
but other personal characteristics:
Barriers to equality are rooted in long-standing attitudes and traditions not only about women, but also about race, age,
sexual orientation, disability, colour, etc. In particular, the life situations of women outside the dominant culture—women with
disabilities, Aboriginal women, women from visible minorities, elderly women, lesbians, lone mothers, women in poverty—are
quite different from the mainstream. For them, the path to equality has been, and continues to be, even more difficult. Equality
for all women will come about only as these attitudes, imbedded in the workplace, educational institutions and the family, are
challenged and begin to change. To achieve true equality, actions must be taken that adjust for the differences in experiences
and situations between women and men, and among women, and that correct the systemic nature of inequality.
The Action Plan further defines the concept of “substantive” equality, which acknowledges the systemic and structural
nature of inequality. It recognizes that both freedom from discrimination and positive actions are required to arrive at equal
outcomes. To achieve gender equality, the social structures that govern the relationship between men and women will need
to give equal value to the different roles they play, as parents, as workers, as elected officials and others; to foster equal
partnership in the decision-making process; and to build a just and equitable society.
Definitions of violence against women
Definitions of violence against women vary broadly depending on the objectives of a particular research study or policy, and
on the source of the data being used. The United Nation’s 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women,
which was signed by Canada, provides a very broad definition that has been accepted by the international community:
any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering
to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private
life.
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Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Violence against women shall be understood to encompass, but not be limited to physical, sexual and psychological violence
occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital
rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related
to exploitation; physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual
abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere; trafficking in women and forced
prostitution; and physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs.
The Canadian Criminal Code has no specific offence of violence against women or spousal assault. Code provisions that most
commonly apply to cases of violence against women include the offences of assault, sexual assault, criminal harassment,
threats of violence, forcible confinement and homicide. For the most part, the statistical data presented in this publication
were derived from Criminal Code definitions. Types of abuse addressed in this report include the following:
1) Physical violence, including threats of violence, hitting with fists or weapons, with or without physical injury, is the most
commonly understood form of abuse. All forms of physical violence are crimes under the Criminal Code.
2) Sexual violence is any form of non-consensual or forced sexual activity or touching, including rape. All forms of sexual
violence are crimes under the Criminal Code. The term “sexual assault” encompasses a wide range of criminal acts
ranging from unwanted sexual touching to sexual violence involving weapons, and is categorized according to three
levels of severity. The term “sexual offence” refers to the three levels of sexual assault as well as other sexual offences
which are designed primarily to protect children.
3) Psychological or emotional abuse includes insults, humiliation, put-downs and yelling, and extreme (often unfounded)
jealousy. These are not crimes under the Criminal Code, but are often effectively used to control and intimidate intimate
partners. It also includes harming pets and damaging property, which are crimes under the Criminal Code.
4) Financial abuse (also referred to as economic abuse or material exploitation) includes restricting access to family
resources, inheritance or employment opportunities, or to seize pay cheques. Unless theft, fraud or some form of coercion
is used, financial abuse is not a crime under the Criminal Code.
5) Spousal abuse refers to physical or sexual violence or psychological or financial abuse within current or former marital
or common-law relationships, including same-sex spousal relationships. The broader category of intimate partner abuse
encompasses spousal violence and violence committed by current or former dating partners.
6) Spousal assault is measured according to the Criminal Code and includes physical or sexual assault and threats of
violence.
7) Spousal homicide refers to the killing of a marital or common-law partner and includes first and second degree murder
and manslaughter.
8) Criminal harassment/stalking is obsessive behaviour directed toward another person. It can involve persistent, malicious
and unwanted surveillance, and invasion of privacy that is a constant threat to the victim’s personal security. Criminal
harassment is an offence under the Criminal Code.
Trafficking in persons is a crime under the Criminal Code. It is not addressed in this publication because of the absence
of data in this area. Trafficking is the use of deception, coercion or force to recruit, move or hold a person in order to use
or exploit that person against their will for the sex trade or forced labour. The US State Department, in their Trafficking in
Persons Report 2005, estimates that 600,000 to 800,000 persons are trafficked across international borders each year and
approximately 80 percent are women and girls. The majority of transnational victims are trafficked into commercial sexual
exploitation. These estimates exclude millions of persons who are trafficked within their own national borders (US State
Department 2005).
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Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Other definitions
1) Spouses and ex-spouses includes legally married, seperated and divorced persons as well as common-law spouses
and ex-spouses. Also includes same-sex spouses.
2) Intimate partners and ex-partners includes spouse and ex-spouse, and current or former dating partners.
The organization of this report
The indicators of violence against women are organized into five themes in this report:
• prevalence and severity of violence against women;
• impact of violence against women;
• risk factors associated with violence against women;
• institutional and community-based responses;
• victims’ use of services.
1) Prevalence and severity of violence against women
These indicators can help governments take stock and assess whether efforts to reduce violence against women have
made a difference. Although they cannot detect whether specific programs and services have directly affected the
level of violence, indicators describing the prevalence and severity of violence against women can show changes that
happened at the same time as prevention and intervention efforts were underway. These indicators also help plan the
delivery of services and modifications to policy and programs.
2) Impact of violence against women
These indicators monitor the impacts and consequences of victimization, including physical consequences such as
injury, medical attention, hospitalization, emotional impacts, and broader societal-level impacts such as the economic
costs of violence.
3) Risk factors associated with violence against women
Identifying factors that increase the risk of victimization is important for both intervention and prevention efforts. To
target resources, stakeholders need to know who is at risk of what types of violence and in what situations, and who is
vulnerable to multiple, chronic and ongoing victimization. Knowledge about risk factors can also help to focus prevention
efforts and social service supports on sub-groups of the population that have the greatest need.
4) Institutional and community-based responses
Tracking how governments and community organizations have responded to violence against women will help address
questions about the types of services available and how the availability of services has changed over time.
5) Use of services by victims
These indicators help identify how victims use services and what the barriers to obtaining help might be.
The 2002 publication, Assessing Violence Against Women: A Statistical Profile, included a sixth type of indicator: public
attitudes and perceptions. While tracking societal attitudes on violence against women remains an important task, few
jurisdictions have updated these surveys since 2002. This report therefore focuses on the five indicators for which current
data are available.
In addition, the Federal/Provincial/Territorial (F/P/T) Status of Women Ministers felt that the situation of violence against
Aboriginal women and women living in the territories warranted specific sections in this document. Recent statistics confirm
what other small scale studies have found: Aboriginal women in Canada are at significantly higher risk of spousal violence
than other segments of society. For the first time, residents of the three territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut)
were interviewed for the 2004 General Social Survey (GSS) as part of a pilot test and results show that women who live
in the territories also experience higher levels of violence. However, due to undercoverage of Aboriginal people, residents
of rural or remote areas and those whose mother tongue is not English or French, estimates of violence in the territories
must be used with caution.
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Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
On the international stage, Canada has been taken to task for the persistent disadvantage faced by Aboriginal women in
education, employment and physical safety (Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
2003). The lack of detailed statistical data on violence against Aboriginal women has been identified as an impediment to
addressing the causes of violence and ensuring access for Aboriginal women to the justice system (International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights 2005). The focus on Aboriginal and Northern women’s experiences of violence in this publication
makes a contribution toward the goal of providing improved data for policy making.
Benefits and limitations of indicators
Violence indicators have many potential benefits. They can:
• increase understanding of the severity and prevalence of acts of violence against women;
• enhance awareness of community and government responses to violence;
• serve as a “red flag” for governments and non-governmental organizations by highlighting emerging issues;
• assist in policy-making, planning and resource allocation;
• help identify possible points of intervention by examining factors associated with a heightened risk of violence;
• together with other tools and information, contribute to an evaluation of efforts to reduce violence;
• act as a catalyst for further scientific inquiry and research.
Despite these advantages, readers need to be aware of the limitations of statistical indicators, including the undercounting
of victims due to the very personal nature of these experiences. In addition, while indicators may highlight problems, they
cannot prescribe solutions. Nor do they necessarily show cause and effect without also taking into account other social
and demographic factors.
Due to jurisdictional differences in the way policies and services to victims are organized, caution must be used when
making comparisons across provinces and territories. For example, police charging policies vary among jurisdictions
– some jurisdictions have pre-charge screening by prosecutors while others do not. The way victim services are organized
by jurisdictions also varies due in part to resource availability.
Readers are referred to the Methodology section for important caveats regarding the methodologies of the data sources
used, as these may place limits on drawing definitive conclusions.
Recent improvements to data collection on violence against women
Following the 2002 publication, Assessing Violence Against Women: A Statistical Profile, a number of enhancements were
made to data collection at Statistics Canada. This report adds important new information on criminal harassment (stalking)
from the 2004 GSS, sentencing of spousal violence perpetrators from a special study of court responses, availability and
use of victim services by abused women from a new Victims Services Survey, and detailed information on Aboriginal and
territorial women, also from the 2004 GSS.
While these enhancements represent an important step forward, work remains to be done. Statistical data are not available
to describe the experiences of violent victimization for some groups of women in the population. This report summarizes
what is currently known about the prevalence and severity of violence against women in Canada, the impact of violence,
risk factors, institutional and community responses, victims’ use of services, and highlights areas where further data
development is needed.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
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Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Foreword
We have come a long way in the past decade in acknowledging the severity of different kinds of domestic violence and
abuse, yet the problem stubbornly persists. If you don’t look for it, you won’t see it. It happens in every town and city, in
every neighbourhood, in every country in the world. No extended family, no ethnic or religious group, is immune. If you have
children, they are playing with abused or bullied children at school. If you have colleagues at work, some will be quietly
struggling with the impact of abusive relationships as they try to earn their living. The consequences—the hurt, anger,
fear, violence, injuries, and exhaustion—affect all of us, over generations. We need to stand beside the strangers in our
community—not only our family members, friends, and neighbours—as they search for a peaceful way of life. Strangers
need allies, too (Reimer 2005, 223).
All women have the right to live in safe communities, free of violence and the threat of violence. This is part of the vision
of the Federal/Provincial/Territorial (F/P/T) Status of Women Ministers, who share the ideal that violence against anyone
is unacceptable whether it is directed against children, women, men, seniors, people with disabilities, visible minorities or
anyone else.
In December 2002, the F/P/T Status of Women Ministers released Assessing Violence Against Women: A Statistical Profile.
The F/P/T ministers had commissioned Statistics Canada to design indicators, based on statistical data, that showed the
severity and extent of violence against women in Canada. Assessing Violence Against Women provided those indicators.
Where possible, the report showed trends over time, and gave statistics at the national, provincial and territorial levels.
This report, Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006, takes a substantial step forward. A joint release
by the F/P/T Status of Women Ministers and Statistics Canada, it adds a third time point to the indicators, and new data
in the areas of criminal harassment (also known as stalking), sentencing of spousal violence perpetrators, victims’ use of
services, Aboriginal women and residents of the territories. As with the 2002 report, it gives trends over time. The indicators
are shown at the national, provincial and territorial levels whenever possible.
More data are still needed. This was one of the strongest conclusions of Assessing Violence Against Women and it is
repeated here. Significant data gaps still exist and there is much we don’t know. For example, the experiences of Aboriginal
women, older women, immigrant and visible minority women, and women in same-sex relationships regarding intimate
partner violence and sexual assault are often hidden.
How violence affects victims also depends on other aspects of their lives, such as their age, ethnicity, background, level of
ability and sexual orientation, to name only a few. These multiple dimensions are weaved into all life experiences. For an
individual woman, the impact of violence can depend on many physical, social, and economic factors. For example, can
she afford safe housing if she flees a violent situation? And will she have to leave behind her cultural community to escape
the abuse?
Good research and analysis can reveal the hidden patterns in violence. Filling in the gaps, and examining the fabric of
women’s experiences—how violence impacts and interacts with other aspects of their lives—will reveal a more complete
portrait. This can allow decision-makers and service providers to plan for the future, and hopefully to adjust current policies
and services as needed.
We hope a wide audience will find this report useful. As with the first report, Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical
Trends 2006 is intended for governments, non-governmental organizations, academics, researchers and decision-makers.
Beyond that scope, we hope it is interesting and useful to anyone whose aim is to address, prevent and respond to violence
– to help themselves, their friends, their sisters, their neighbours, and the stranger down the street.
Federal/Provincial/Territorial Senior Officials
responsible for the status of women
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Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Executive Summary
Violence against anyone is unacceptable. However, research has shown that gender plays an important role in the context
and outcomes of violence for women and men.
Federal/Provincial/Territorial (F/P/T) Status of Women Ministers have joined with Statistics Canada to compile this collection
of statistical indicators on five major aspects of women’s experiences of violence: prevalence and severity, impact, risk factors,
institutional and community-based responses, and victims’ use of services. Wherever possible, comparisons are made with
the violence experienced by men. This report updates the information contained in the 2002 publication Assessing Violence
Against Women: A Statistical Profile and includes important new information in a number of areas. New data examining the
situation for Aboriginal women and residents of the territories is highlighted in separate sections of the report.
Indicators in this document focus on acts of violence against women that have been quantified using statistical survey
techniques. The report focuses on behaviours that could trigger a criminal justice response—acts of violence that qualify
as offences under the Criminal Code. The primary data sources that Statistics Canada uses to measure violence against
women are victimization surveys, and data collected by police agencies, adult courts, emergency shelters for women and
their children, and other service agencies providing assistance to crime victims.
These indicators provide the following portrait of violence against women in Canada.
Prevalence and severity
• Women are more likely than men to be the victims of the most severe forms of spousal assault, as well as spousal
homicide, sexual assault and criminal harassment (stalking).
• The rate of spousal homicide has declined in recent years for both women and men, and survey data suggest that the
severity of non-lethal assaults against women has also declined somewhat.
• Over the past 30 years, the percentage of persons charged with first degree murder in spousal homicide cases has
risen; however, men are twice as likely as women to receive this charge.
• Trends in various types of violence against women, as recorded in police statistics, are mixed:
•
rates of reported sexual assault have declined since 1993;
•
the number of spousal violence incidents against women has declined since 2000 while the rate of
violence perpetrated by boyfriends has increased;
•
the number of male partners reported to police for criminal harassment has increased.
Impact
• Spousal violence has psychological, physical, social and economic impacts for victims, their families and society.
• Female victims of spousal violence are more likely than males to report being injured, suffer lost productivity, experience
multiple assaults, fear for their lives, and experience negative emotional consequences.
• Almost 40% of women assaulted by spouses said their children witnessed the violence against them (either directly or
indirectly) and in many cases the violence was severe. In half of cases of spousal violence against women that were
witnessed by children, the woman feared for her life.
• Studies of the economic costs of violence against women to victims and society estimate that costs to health, criminal
justice, social services and lost productivity range in the billions of dollars.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
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Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Risk factors
• Young women experience the highest rates of violence.
• Women experience higher rates than men of sexual assault, stalking, serious spousal assaults and
spousal homicide.
• Partners’ use of psychological or emotional abuse, and frequent heavy drinking by partners, raise the risk of violence
against women in spousal relationships.
• Women in common-law relationships and those who are separated report rates of spousal violence and homicide that
are disproportionate to their representation in the population.
• Stalking by ex-partners raises the risk of ex-partner violence.
Institutional and community-based responses
• The number of shelters for abused women and their children has increased from 18 in 1975 to 543 in 2004. The largest
rise was between 1979 and 1992.
• In addition to shelters, over 600 services for victims of crime, including 105 sexual assault centres are operational across
Canada.
• Specialized domestic violence courts have been implemented in several jurisdictions, including Winnipeg, Ontario,
Alberta and the Yukon.
• 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.
• Spousal violence offenders were more likely than those convicted of other violent offences to receive a term of probation
and less likely to receive a prison term. Male offenders and ex-partners were more likely than females and those in intact
relationships to receive a prison sentence.
• Average probation and prison sentences were longer in spousal violence cases than non-spousal violence cases.
• Conditional sentences, which are prison terms that a judge orders to be served in the community provided that certain
conditions are observed, were used in sexual assault cases more often than in cases of other violent crimes.
Victims’ use of services
• 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.
• Reasons for not reporting to police are varied and include fear of reprisals by the offender, shame and embarrassment,
and a reluctance to become involved with the police and courts.
• The primary reasons women report spousal violence to the police are to stop the violence and receive protection. Fewer
reported because they wanted to have their partner arrested and punished.
• Reporting to police was higher for younger women, those living in lower-income households, and those with lower
education. Reporting was also higher in more serious incidents of violence, in cases witnessed by children, and in cases
where offenders were under the influence of alcohol.
• About half of female spousal violence victims used the support of social services.
• Reporting to the police raised the likelihood that women would use social services, and contact with social services
increased the likelihood that the police would also be involved.
• In the year ending March 31, 2004, 52,127 women and 36,840 children were admitted to shelters for abused women
across Canada.
• Among other types of services for crime victims (excluding shelters), women make up the majority of clients, and most
are seeking help for the effects of sexual assault, partner violence or stalking.
Violence against Aboriginal women
• Rates of spousal violence and spousal homicide are higher for Aboriginal women than for non-Aboriginal women or
Aboriginal men.
• The severity and impacts of spousal violence are also greater for Aboriginal women.
• Part of the explanation for these higher rates is that the presence of risk factors is high among the Aboriginal population.
The Aboriginal population is younger than the general population, has lower average incomes, has higher levels of
alcohol abuse and are more likely to live in common-law relationships. Other factors that have been linked to violence
in Aboriginal communities include the breakdown of family life resulting from residential school experience, and the
impact of colonization on traditional values and culture.
• Aboriginal people also experience higher rates of non-spousal violence.
• Aboriginal women were more likely than non-Aboriginal women to contact police regarding spousal violence and more
likely to use social services. This is in keeping with the more serious nature of the violence perpetrated against them.
14
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Violence against women in the territories
• Rates of spousal violence are higher in the territories than in the provinces: 12% compared with 7%. Rates of spousal
violence cannot be estimated separately for women and men.
• Police consistently record higher rates of violent crimes, including sexual assault and spousal homicide, in the territories
compared with the provinces.
• Victims of spousal violence in the territories report to the police at a higher rate than victims in the provinces.
• Spousal violence victims in the territories were less likely than victims in the provinces to use social services. However,
per capita rates of shelter usage were highest in the territories.
Looking to the future
Data collection in the area of violence against women is challenging due to the sensitive nature of these experiences.
Statistics Canada and other agencies continue to refine and improve the tools and methodologies needed to study this
important social issue. This report adds important new information that was not available for the 2002 report, including data
on criminal harassment, sentencing of spousal violence perpetrators, availability and use of victim services, and detailed
information for Aboriginal women and women in the territories. The report concludes by highlighting gaps that remain in the
data required to paint a more complete picture of the nature, extent and impacts of violence against women. For example,
more detailed data are needed for:
• visible minority, immigrant, Aboriginal and Northern women;
• sexual assault victimization;
• perpetrators of violence;
• attitudes and perceptions of violence among Canadians;
• the economic costs of violence;
• other forms of violence, such as trafficking in persons.
Continued improvements to the quality and depth of statistical data on violence against women will help contribute important
information for monitoring the prevalence, risk factors, impacts and responses to violence. The indicators in this report are
designed as a useful tool for governments and non-governmental organizations for tracking change over time, highlighting
new and emerging issues, and developing legislation, policies and programs to help prevent violence and assist victims.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
15
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Findings
Prevalence and severity of violence
against women
Estimating the prevalence of violence against women—the
number of women in the population who are affected by
violence—is challenging due to the very private nature
of these experiences. A subset of police services across
Canada is able to track the gender of victims and offenders
for crimes that are reported to them, but this undercounts
incidents of violence against women as just over one-third
of spousal assaults and less than 10% of sexual assaults
are reported to police. A survey of shelters for abused
women and their children has been in operation since
1992. However, women who use shelters tend to be fleeing
very serious violence and may not be representative of all
abused women.
Victimization surveys, as opposed to police collected
data, have become the standard for estimating the nature
and extent of violence against women in the general
population. In 1993, Statistics Canada conducted the first
dedicated survey on violence against women. This survey
was important because of the breadth and depth of the
questions asked and because it established a baseline for
understanding and monitoring physical and sexual violence
against women in Canadian society.
The Violence Against Women Survey (VAWS) was a special
one-time survey funded by the (then) federal department
of Health and Welfare. In order to track changes over
time, Statistics Canada’s General Social Survey (GSS) on
Victimization was adapted to include a module on spousal
violence which was modeled on the VAWS. The GSS on
Victimization is conducted every five years and reference is
made in the survey to experiences of spousal violence in the
preceding 12-month and 5-year periods. Sexual assault is
covered as one of the eight crime types addressed routinely
on the survey. Experiences of sexual assault are measured
over the previous 12 months only.
Spousal assault severity and prevalence can be compared
over three time periods: the five years prior to the 1993
VAWS and the five years prior to the 1999 and 2004 GSS.
Although there were attempts to make these surveys as
16
similar as possible, comparisons should be made cautiously
(see the Methodology section). The VAWS contained a
single focus on acts of male violence against women, while
the GSS is a general crime victim survey with a special
module of questions designed to measure the prevalence
and consequences of spousal assault against both women
and men.
Spousal assault
Spousal assault was first identified as an important social
issue in the early 1970s due to the efforts of the women’s
movement. Since that time, awareness of the issue and the
development of tools to estimate the prevalence of spousal
violence have grown.
In this document, the terms “spouse” and “spousal” refer
to both marital and common-law unions, unless otherwise
specified. The data from the 2004 General Social Survey
(GSS) on Victimization related to spousal violence include a
small number of same-sex spousal relationships; however,
the numbers were too small to make statistically reliable
estimates separately for women and men.
Note on statistical significance: Telephone surveys such
as the Violence Against Women Survey (VAWS) and the
GSS randomly select a sample of the population to be
interviewed (age 18 and over for the VAWS; 15 and over for
the GSS). The responses of each person interviewed are
weighted to produce estimates for the overall population. An
estimate of the total population, expressed as a percentage,
is expected to be within about 1% of the true percentage
19 times out of 20. Estimates of smaller subpopulations
(such as smaller provinces) will fall within a wider range.
As a result, estimates from two points in time, or between
two subgroups in the population, may have a wide and
overlapping range and therefore will not show a statistically
significant difference. Estimates based on small samples
are not reliable and are suppressed.
See the Methologology section for detailed description of
these surveys.
Prevalence of spousal assault
According to victimization data, there has been a decline
in spousal assaults since 1993. Seven percent of women
who were living in a common-law or marital relationship
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
reported to the 2004 GSS that they had been physically
or sexually assaulted by a spousal partner at least once
during the previous five years. This is a small but statistically
significant drop from 8% in 1999. These figures represent
approximately 653,000 women in 2004 and 690,000 in
1999. In 1993, 12% of women had been assaulted by a
spousal partner in the preceding five years. The figures for
men were 7% in 1999 and 6% in 2004 (Figure 1).
In the 12 months preceding the survey interview in 2004,
2% of women had been physically or sexually assaulted
by a spousal partner, representing approximately 196,000
women. The figures for 1993 and 1999 were 201,000 and
220,000 women, respectively (Figure 2).
Figure 1
Five-year rates of spousal assault, 1993, 1999 and 2004
Percent over 5 years
14
1993
1999
2004
12
12
10
8
8
7
7
6
6
4
2
..
0
Women
Men
.. not available for any reference period
Note: Both the decline in rates of spousal violence against women and the difference between women and men are statistically significant.
Sources: Statistics Canada, Violence Against Women Survey, 1993; General Social Survey, 1999, 2004.
Figure 2
One-year rates of spousal assault, 1993, 1999 and 2004
Percent over 1 year
14
1993
1999
2004
12
10
8
6
4
3
3
2
2
2
2
..
0
Women
Men
.. not available for any reference period
Note: Both the decline in rates of spousal violence against women and the difference between women and men are statistically significant.
Sources: Statistics Canada, Violence Against Women Survey, 1993; General Social Survey, 1999, 2004.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
17
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
The most significant change in spousal violence rates
between 1999 and 2004 were within relationships that
had ended at the time of the interview. Women reported
higher rates of violence by previous spouses compared to
current spouses, even though the percentage of women
who experienced violence in the previous five years by expartners declined from 28% in 1999 to 21% in 2004.
•
•
positive changes in women’s social and economic status
that may enable them to leave abusive relationships at
earlier stages (Pottie Bunge 2002; Dawson 2001; Dugan
et al. 1999; Rosenfeld 1997);
pro-charging and pro-prosecution policies in many
jurisdictions.
Figure 3 shows the five-year prevalence rates of spousal
assault for each of the provinces as measured by the 1999
and 2004 GSS. Rates of spousal violence against women
have remained relatively unchanged in all provinces. The
largest change was recorded in Prince Edward Island where
rates have dropped by half. For Canada, Newfoundland and
Labrador, Prince Edward Island and Quebec, the change in
prevalence rates is statistically significant. This means that
the difference between 1999 and 2004 rates are likely real
and not the result of sampling. Newfoundland and Labrador
was the only jurisdiction to show a rise in spousal violence
over this five-year period.
Although it is difficult to determine with certainty the reasons
for a decline in the prevalence of spousal assault, some
factors could have played a role. These include:
• increased use of services by abused women;
• increased public awareness;
• improved training for police officers and Crown
attorneys;
• co-ordinated inter-agency referrals in many
jurisdictions;
• growth of provincial/territorial domestic violence
legislation;
• increased number of treatment programs for violent
men;
The estimated numbers and rates of spousal assault
against women and men by province in 2004 are set out
in Table 1.
Figure 3
Five-year rates of spousal¹ assault against women by province, 1999 and 2004
British Columbia
9
Alberta
10
10
Saskatchewan
Manitoba
8
7
7
Ontario
Quebec
9
6E
8
8
Nova Scotia
Prince Edward Island
Newfoundland and Labrador
12E
6E
4E
6E
Total
8
7
0
2
4
11E
1999
2004
8
6
New Brunswick
9
9E
11
6
8
10
12
14
Percent over 5 years
E
use with caution (coefficient of variation is high,16.6% to 33.3%)
1. Includes common-law partners.
Note: Differences for Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and the Total are statistically significant.
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 1999, 2004.
18
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Table 1
Estimated number and rate of spousal violence incidents against women and men 15 years of age and over, past five years,
2004
Total
Female
in thousands
percent
16
4
41
29
238
442
46
46
156
183
1,200
5
5
8
6
5
6
7
8
9
8
7
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island
Nova Scotia
New Brunswick
Quebec
Ontario
Manitoba
Saskatchewan
Alberta
British Columbia
Total
in thousands
Male
percent
9E
2E
21
14E
134
227
25
25
90
106
654
6E
6E
8
6E
6
7
8
9
10
9
7
in thousands
6E
F
20 E
15 E
104
215
21 E
21 E
66
77
546
percent
4E
F
7E
7E
5
6
7E
8E
7
6
6
E
use with caution (coefficient of variation is high, 16.6% to 33.3%)
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2004.
Figure 4
Types of spousal violence experienced by women and men, 2004
16
Sexually assaulted
F
11
Used or threatened to use
a gun or knife
Female
9E
Male
19
Choked
5E
19
Beat
8
23
23
Hit with something
27
Kicked, bit or hit
40
36
Slapped
57
81
Pushed, grabbed, shoved
48
44
Threw something
49
61
Threatened to hit
53
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
Percent over 5 years
E
use with caution (coefficient of variation is high, 16.6% to 33.3%)
Note: Figures do not add to 100% due to multiple responses.
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2004.
Severity of spousal assault
In general, women are more frequently subjected to severe
forms of violence from men than men are from women. For
example, in 2004, twice as many women than men were
beaten by their partners, and four times as many were
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
choked (Figure 4). Moreover, 16% of women who were
victimized by a spouse were sexually assaulted, and twice
as many female as male victims of spousal assault reported
chronic, ongoing assaults (10 or more) (see Figure 20).
This finding suggests that despite similar prevalence rates
19
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
reported by women and men in the 2004 GSS, assaults on
women are more serious. One shortcoming of the data is
that they do not indicate the degree of force used in each
of these acts. However, the impact of spousal assault, in
terms of injury and other consequences, is more severe for
women (see Figure 20).
Overall, women were two-and-a-half times as likely as men
to report the most serious forms of violence, such as being
beaten, choked, threatened with a gun or knife, and sexually
assaulted (Figure 5). The estimated number of women and
men who experienced these types of assaults over the fiveyear period was 254,000 and 89,000, respectively.
Figure 5
Women experience more serious violence than men, 2004
Female victims
Male victims
11
Threatened, threw something
15
40
Pushed, shoved, slapped
34
10
Kicked, bit, hit, hit with something
34
39
Beaten, choked, used a gun/knife,
sexually assaulted
16
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
40
45
Percent over 5 years
Notes: Figures may not add to 100% due to rounding. Differences between women and men are statistically significant.
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2004.
A comparison of data from these three time points
presents some evidence that the severity of the assaults
has diminished slightly. These surveys indicate a reduction
across these three time points in the percentage of female
victims of spousal violence subjected to the most severe
types of assault (being beaten, choked, threatened with a
gun or knife, or sexually assaulted), from 50% of all victims
in 1993 to 39% in 2004 (Figure 6). There were also declines
in the percentage of victims experiencing chronic, ongoing
assaults (10 or more) and in the percentage who feared for
their lives from a violent spouse. However, the percentage
of victims who suffered physical injury increased slightly.
These changes are small but statistically significant.1
These shifts may be a result of improved societal
interventions that help to reduce the escalation of violence
in spousal relationships and are consistent with the decline
in spousal homicides. However, the apparent declines in
the prevalence and severity of spousal assaults have not
20
resulted in a decrease in the use of shelters for abused
women (see Figure 43 and Table 8). The demand for
shelters continues to exceed availability as reflected in the
fact that some 200 women are turned away from shelters on
an average day (see the section Victims’ use of services).
Police-reported data on spousal assault
Police data on spousal assault incidents come from the
Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (UCR2)
and do not contain data from all provinces. Other than in
Ontario and Quebec, the data are primarily from urban
police services. Although all police agencies across the
country provide Statistics Canada with an annual statistical
accounting of all known crimes, not all can provide details of
assaults involving spouses or other intimate partners. Data
for the period 1998 to 2004 are based on 68 police forces
that have consistently participated in the UCR2 Survey
See notes at the end of the text.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Figure 6
Changes in the severity of spousal assaults against women over time, 1993, 1999 and 2004
1993
1999
2004
6
Threatened, threw something
10
11
35
35
Pushed, shoved, slapped
40
9
Kicked, bit, hit, hit with something
11
10
50
Beaten, choked, used a gun/knife,
sexually assaulted
43
39
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
Percent over 5 years
Sources: Statistics Canada, Violence Against Women Survey, 1993; General Social Survey, 1999, 2004.
since 1998. The data presented here are not nationally
representative but provide an indication of trends for these
68 police forces, which represent 37% of the national
volume of crime. By 2007, over 90% of criminal incidents
will be reported in this detailed format.
These data indicate that women represented 87% of victims
of partner assault from 1998 to 2004 in the jurisdictions of
the participating police agencies. In 2004, 14,597 cases
of partner violence involving female victims and 2,413
cases involving male victims were reported to these 68
police departments. This is a consistent finding over time
and suggests that incidents involving female victims are
more likely to approach the level of severity requiring police
intervention.
These data undercount the actual number of spousal
assaults as only 36% of female victims and 17% of male
victims in 2004 had reported spousal violence to the police,
according to the 2004 GSS (see Figure 21).
As shown in Figure 7, current and former husbands make
up the largest number of intimate partner assault offenders
recorded by the police and the number in this group has
declined since 2001. The number of current and former
boyfriends reported to police for intimate partner violence
has increased since 1998 to become the second highest
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
category, surpassing the number of assaults perpetrated by
wives. A limitation of this analysis is that rates per population
cannot be calculated because population data for marital
status cannot be matched to these geographic regions.
These trends therefore do not take account of possible
increases in the population.
Pro-charging policies have led to the unexpected result
that, in some cases, both victim and perpetrator are
charged. Some jurisdictions in the United States have
adopted “primary aggressor” models, which require police
to identify the primary aggressor based on the history of
violence between the parties and evidence that one person
may have been acting in self-defence (Federal/Provincial/
Territorial Working Group 2003).
Spousal homicide
One in five homicides in Canada involves the killing of an
intimate partner. Rates of spousal homicide against both
female and male victims have fluctuated over the past 30
years but show a general overall decline (Figure 8). The rate
for women decreased by 39% between 1991 and 2004,
from 1.16 to 0.71 per 100,000 couples. The rate for men
decreased 59%, from 0.34 to 0.14 per 100,000 couples
during this same time period.
21
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Figure 7
Number of intimate partner assaults1,2 reported to police by offender relationship to victim, 1998 to 2004
Number
16,000
14,000
12,000
10,000
(Ex) Husband
(Ex) Wife
8,000
(Ex) Boyfriend
(Ex) Girlfriend
6,000
4,000
2,000
0
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
1. Includes current/former wife or husband (including common-law partners) and current/former boyfriend/girlfriend. Excludes same-sex intimate partners.
2. Includes attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, sexual assaults (levels 1 to 3), assault (levels 1 to 3), unlawfully causing bodily harm, discharge firearm with
intent, criminal negligence causing bodily harm, assault against peace/public officer, other assaults and other sexual violations.
Notes: Data are not nationally representative. Based on data from 68 police departments (excluding Toronto Police Service) active as of December 31, 2004 (excluding
partial year respondents) representing 36.6% of the national volume of crime in 2004. Includes only those incidents involving one accused and one victim
between the ages of 15 and 89.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Trend Database.
Figure 8
Rates of spousal¹ homicide by sex of victim, 1975 to 2004
Rate per 100,000 spouses²
1.8
Women
Men
1.6
1.4
1.2
1.0
0.8
0.6
0.4
0.2
0.0
1975
1980
1985
1990
1995
2000
2004
1. Spousal homicides reported by police include a small number of victims who were separated from a common-law spouse. As population estimates are unavailable for
this sub-population, the overall rates of spousal homicide may be slightly overestimated. Six same-sex spouses were excluded from the analysis, due to the unavailability
of population estimates.
2. Rates are calculated per 100,000 spouses (legally married, separated, divorced and common-law men and women 15 years of age and over). Population estimates
provided at July 1st by Statistics Canada, Census and Demographic Statistics, Demography Division.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Homicide Survey.
22
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Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Police statistics suggest that a substantial percentage of
persons accused of spousal homicide were acting in selfdefence. In 41% of spousal killings of men in which police
had the requisite information, the police determined that the
male victim was “the first to use or threaten to use physical
force or violence in the incident.” In contrast, police indicated
that the victim initiated the violence in only 5% of spousal
killings of women (Johnson and Hotton 2003).
by their female partners. A history of violence was less
common for legally married women and men and higher for
those in common-law, separated and divorced relationships.
The Homicide Survey indicates just that there was a known
history of domestic violence in the relationship but does not
indicate who was the perpetrator and who was the victim
of the violence that preceded the homicide.
The decrease in the spousal homicide rate in recent years
may be due to, among other factors, increased communitybased support, mandatory charging policies and improved
training of police officers. Researchers in Canada and the
United States have investigated the correlations between
these various factors and changes in spousal homicide
rates over time (Pottie Bunge 2002; Dawson 2001; Dugan
et al. 1999; Rosenfeld 1997). They have demonstrated
statistically that the decline in spousal homicide rates is
linked to a combination of increased availability of resources
and improvements in women’s socio-economic status,
including:
• delayed marriage, which means exposure to violence
in the highest-risk age group of women and men is
reduced;
• delayed marriage may also reflect increased selectivity
in the choice of a partner;
• delayed childbirth gives women greater opportunity
for educational and labour force advancement and
economic independence;
Statistics Canada’s Homicide Survey reports only the
original charges—there is no follow-up to determine if the
charge was reduced or the accused was found guilty. With
respect to initial charges laid, women accused of homicide
against intimate partners were more likely than men to be
charged with second degree murder and manslaughter
while men were more likely to be charged with first degree
murder. The percentage of men who were charged with first
degree murder in spousal killings has risen over the past
30 years from 24% in the period 1975 to 1984 to 49% in
the most recent decade. The percentage of women who
were charged with first degree murder also rose from 16%
to 25% (Figure 9).
In a majority of spousal homicides, there is a history of
violence between the victim and the accused person
(Figure 10). Between 1991 and 2004, there was a history
of domestic violence in 59% of homicides against women
by their male partners and 70% of homicides against men
Figure 9
Percent distribution of persons accused of spousal homicide1 by gender and most serious violation,2 1975 to 2004
Percent of acccused persons
110
Murder - 1st degree
Murder - 2nd degree
Manslaughter
100
90
73
80
70
70
64
61
60
45
50
49
49
45
40
26
30
20
16
11
25
13
24
11
10
6
5
5
0
1975 to
1984
1985 to
1994
1995 to
2004
Accused female spouses (N = 562)
1975 to
1984
1985 to
1994
1995 to
2004
Accused male spouses (N = 1,519)
1. Spouses include legally married, common-law, separated, divorced and (ex) same-sex spouses. Includes homicides in which only one person was accused of the
homicide.
2. Represents charges laid or recommended by police at the time of the initial investigation and does not include revisions following court appearances or convictions.
Note: Figures may not total to 100% due to rounding.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Homicide Survey.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
23
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Figure 10
Percentage of spousal homicides with a history of domestic violence between victim and offender, by offender relationship
to victim, 1991 to 2004
45
Legal husband
Female victims
63
Common-law husband
Separated husband
72
77
Divorced husband
50
(Ex) Same-sex spouse
Total female victims
59
Legal wife
58
Male victims
Common-law wife
74
Separated wife
75
Divorced wife
100
(Ex) Same-sex spouse
100
Total male victims
70
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100 110
Percent of spousal homicides with a history of domestic violence
Notes: Includes spousal homicides involving one accused and one victim, representing 91% of all spousal homicides between 1991 and 2004. Excludes 44 spousal
homicides in which the existence of a history of domestic violence was unknown.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Homicide Survey.
•
•
rising income levels and labour force participation rates
for women provide women with options in the event of
violence;
increasing availability of domestic violence services,
including shelters, may help avert a violent situation
from becoming lethal.
Due to the small number of spousal homicides in some
provinces, data have been combined for the 30-year period,
from 1975 to 2004. Over this time period, rates of spousal
homicide against women were lowest in Newfoundland and
Labrador and Prince Edward Island, while rates of spousal
homicide against men were relatively low in New Brunswick
and Quebec. The highest rates for both men and women
are shown in the Western provinces and the territories. In
almost all provinces and territories, homicides of women
outnumbered homicides of men by a ratio of at least 2 to 12
(Figure 11).
These provincial variations mirror overall rates of homicide
and violence in the general population, which tend to be
higher in the territories and the Western provinces.
Table 2 gives a clearer indication of the magnitude of the
problem of spousal homicide in each of the provinces and
territories, showing both the total and the average number
24
of women and men killed annually by spouses over the
30-year period.
Sexual assault
The most detailed information on sexual assault is available
from the 1993 national VAWS. At that time, 39% of Canadian
adult women reported having had at least one experience of
sexual assault since the age of 16. The definition of sexual
assault in this survey included violent sexual attacks and
unwanted sexual touching, both of which are consistent
with Criminal Code definitions of sexual assault.
The GSS does not contain the same kind of expanded data
related to sexual assault outside a spousal relationship
(legal marriages and common-law unions); as a result,
trend data are quite limited. The survey questions used
to define sexual assault in the 1993 VAWS were more
detailed than the questions used in the GSS. Therefore,
comparisons should be made only between the two GSS
surveys. The percentage of women who reported being
sexually assaulted in the previous 12-month period was
3% in both 1999 and 2004.
See notes at the end of the text.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Figure 11
Average spousal homicide rates by province and territory, 1975 to 2004
1.0
Canada
0.3
Northwest Territories / Nunavut
4.4
Yukon
2.4
1.1
British Columbia
0.4
Alberta
0.5
Ontario
Quebec
New Brunswick
Nova Scotia
Prince Edward Island
Newfoundland and Labrador
1.2
1.3
Saskatchewan
Manitoba
7.3
3.6
0.8
0.6
0.9
0.2
0.9
0.2
0.9
0.1
0.9
0.3
0.6
0.1
0.4
0.2
0.0
1.0
1.5
Women
Men
2.0
3.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
Rate per 100,000 spouses¹
1. Rates are calculated per 100,000 spouses (legally married, separated, divorced and common-law men and women 15 years of age and over). Population estimates
provided at July 1st by Statistics Canada, Census and Demographic Statistics, Demography Division. Demographic and homicide statistics for Nunavut specifically
are only available from 1999 on. Since this analysis looks at trends over a 30-year period, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories have been aggregated.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Homicide Survey.
Table 2
Number of spousal homicides1 in Canada, the provinces and territories by sex of victim, 1975 to 2004
Total number of victims
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island
Nova Scotia
New Brunswick
Quebec
Ontario
Manitoba
Saskatchewan
Alberta
British Columbia
Yukon
Northwest Territories2
Nunavut3
Canada
Average number of victims per year (1975 to 2004)
Female
Male
Female
Male
15
6
62
52
497
753
123
98
244
293
9
22
4
2,178
7
1
24
7
87
186
48
59
97
104
5
11
2
638
0.5
0.2
2.1
1.7
16.6
25.1
4.1
3.3
8.1
9.7
0.3
0.7
…
72.6
0.2
0.0
0.8
0.2
2.9
6.2
1.6
2.0
3.2
3.5
0.2
0.4
…
21.3
... not applicable
1. Includes married, common-law, separated, divorced and (ex) same-sex spouses.
2. Data prior to 1999 include the territory now known as Nunavut.
3. Reflects the number of spousal victims reported by police since 1999.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Homicide Survey.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
25
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Trend data do exist for police-reported cases of sexual
assault. However, since victimization surveys suggest that
less than 10% of sexual assaults are reported to the police,
police data significantly underestimate the incidence of
sexual assault.
The statistics for reported sexual assaults show a steady
increase starting in 1983 and a decline beginning in 1993.
Overall sexual assault rates are driven by level I sexual
assaults since they account for over 90% of all incidents
reported to the police (Figure 12).
The Criminal Code definition of sexual assault encompasses
conduct ranging from unwanted sexual touching to sexual
violence resulting in serious physical injury to the victim.
Correspondingly, an offence is assigned to one of three
levels according to the seriousness of the offence or the
degree of physical injury sustained by the victim:
• a level I sexual assault involves minor physical injuries
or no injuries to the victim;
• a level II sexual assault involves the use of a weapon
or threats, or results in bodily harm;
• a level III sexual assault (aggravated sexual assault)
results in wounding, maiming, disfiguring or endangering
the life of the victim (see Appendix 2 for Criminal Code
definitions of offences).
The more serious levels II and III sexual assault are charted
on a separate graph due to the much lower prevalence
reported to police (Figure 13). These assaults show quite
a different pattern: police-reported rates of levels II and
III sexual offences have declined significantly since the
legal reform in 1983 that abolished the crime of rape (see
Appendix 2).
It is unknown to what extent these data reflect actual trends
in changing levels of sexual violence in Canadian society,
or changes in the willingness of sexual assault victims to
bring these to the attention of the police. According to the
2004 GSS, just 8% of sexual assault victims reported the
crime to the police.
Figure 12
Total sexual assaults and level I sexual assaults reported to police, Canada, 1983 to 2004
Rate per 100,000 population1
140
120
100
80
60
40
20
Total sexual assaults
Level I sexual assaults
0
1983
1986
1989
1992
1995
1998
2001
2004
1. Rates are calculated per 100,000 population. Population estimates provided at July 1st by Statistics Canada, Census and Demography Statistics, Demography
Division.
Note: It is not possible to identify male and female victims separately.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.
26
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Figure 13
Level II and level III sexual assaults reported to the police, Canada, 1983 to 2004
Rate per 100,000 population1
4.0
Level II sexual assaults
Level III sexual assaults
3.5
3.0
2.5
2.0
1.5
1.0
0.5
0.0
1983
1986
1989
1992
1995
1998
2001
2004
1. Rates are calculated per 100,000 population. Population estimates provided at July 1st by Statistics Canada, Census and Demography Statistics, Demography
Division.
Note: It is not possible to identify male and female victims separately.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.
Criminal harassment
In 1993, the offence of criminal harassment, also known as
“stalking,” was introduced in the Criminal Code. Although
criminal harassment is not gender-specific, the legislation
was mainly introduced as a response to violence against
women, and in particular, spousal assaults against women
(Department of Justice Canada 2004). Several highly
publicized cases of women being stalked and killed by their
estranged partners in the early 1990s provided the impetus
for this legislation, in the hope that early intervention in
response to criminally harassing behaviour might prevent
the escalation of violence.
Criminal harassment is obsessive behaviour directed
towards another person. Section 264 of the Criminal Code
defines criminal harassment as repeatedly following a
person from place to place or repeatedly attempting to
contact that person over a period of time. The legislation
also encompasses such behaviours as watching or keeping
watch over someone’s home or workplace, and making
threats against another person known to the victim. As a
result of such behaviour, the victims have reasonable cause
to fear for their safety or that of someone close to them.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
The law related to criminal harassment has undergone
amendments on three occasions:
• In 1997 an amendment was made to make murder
committed in the course of stalking a first-degree murder
offence, whether or not it was planned or deliberate.
• Also in 1997, the law was amended to make the
commission of an offence of criminal harassment while
under a protective court order an aggravating factor for
sentencing.
• In 2002, the maximum penalty for criminal harassment
was doubled to 10 years’ imprisonment.
• In 2006, the law was amended to limit the instances
in which an accused can personally cross-examine
a victim of criminal harassment, thus preventing any
continuation of the harassment that might occur
otherwise.
In 2004, three-quarters of incidents of criminal harassment
reported to the police were directed at female victims. In
half of these incidents, women were stalked by a person
with whom they had an intimate relationship. The most
common situations involved male ex-spouses (including
former common-law partners) and ex-boyfriends.
In 2004, 2,030 male partners and 207 female partners
were reported for stalking to the 68 police departments
27
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
included in the database. The number of male spouses and
boyfriends known to police for stalking has risen in recent
years (this includes ex-partners) (Figure 14). This may
reflect a real rise in stalking behaviour or an increase in the
number of incidents reported to the police. It may also reflect
a change in the way police have applied the law, as similar
types of behaviours can be charged under other offences,
such as uttering threats. Once again, these figures do not
take account of possible increases in the population.
Figure 14 illustrates only stalking events that were reported
to police. The 2004 GSS included a special module on
stalking in order to more fully explore stalking events that
were and were not reported to police.
Overall, 9% of persons 15 years of age and older reported
having experienced at least one stalking incident in the
five-year period prior to the survey. Rates were higher for
women than for men: 11% compared with 7%. (See the
Methodology section for question wording used on the
GSS to measure stalking.)
Rates of criminal harassment victimization varied by
province, from a low of 9% to a high of 13% for women and
between 4% and 9% for men (Figure 15).
The majority of stalking victims were stalked by a male
(80%). Stalkers were male in 80% of cases involving female
victims and 73% of those involving male victims. Only 5%
of all cases involved a female stalking a male.
Similar to other forms of violence, the relationship of stalkers
to victims was somewhat different for women and men.
Overall, 21% of female victims were stalked by current or
former intimate partners (spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend)
compared with 10% of male victims. Men were more likely
to be stalked by other people known to them, such as
neighbours, friends, co-workers and people known by sight
only (Figure 16).
Not only do women report higher rates of stalking, they
also report experiencing most of the specific stalking
behaviours at a higher frequency. For example, they were
more likely to be harassed with repeated telephone calls,
repeated requests for a date, unwanted messages and
gifts or letters, and were more likely to receive other forms
of unwanted communication. Women were also more likely
to be followed and spied on, and to have stalkers waiting
outside their homes, workplace or other locations. Men
reported higher prevalence of two behaviours: intimidation
or threats to a third party, and damage to pets or property.
Question wording on the GSS stipulates that for all types
Figure 14
Number of criminal harassment incidents reported to police, by offender relationship to victim, 1998 to 2004¹
Number
1,600
1,400
1,200
1,000
800
(Ex) Husband
(Ex) Boyfriend
(Ex) Wife
(Ex) Girlfriend
600
400
200
0
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
1. (Ex) husbands and wives include current and former common-law partners. Excludes same-sex intimate partners. Includes only those incidents involving one accused
and one victim between the ages of 15 and 89.
Note: Data are not nationally representative. Based on data from 68 police departments (excluding Toronto Police Service) active as of December 31, 2004 (excluding
partial year respondents) representing 36.6% of the national volume of crime in 2004.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Trend Database.
28
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Figure 15
Women more likely than men to experience stalking, past five years, 2004
Percent over 5 years
14
12
13
Women
Men
11
12
11
10E
10
9
9
11
11
10
10
9
8
8
E
7
7
7
7
7
Alta.
B.C.
7
6
6
4E
4
2
F
0
Canada N.L.
P.E.I.
N.S.
N.B.
Que.
Ont.
Man.
Sask.
E
use with caution (coefficient of variation is high, 16.6% to 33.3%)
F too unreliable to be published
Note: Differences between rates of stalking for women and men are not statistically significant in any of the provinces.
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2004.
Figure 16
Percentage of women and men aged 15 years and over who reported some form of stalking, by relationship of
stalker to victim, past five years, 2004
Victim stalked by...
Stranger
22
24
5
5
Other relative
12
Person known by sight only
16
5
Co-worker
8
22
Friend
25
6
Neighbour
8
Ex-boyfriend/girlfriend
11
6
1E
Boyfriend/girlfriend
F
Ex-spouse
4E
8
E
1
Spouse
F
0
Female victims
5
E
5
Not stated/ Don't know
5
Male victims
10
15
20
25
30
Percent over 5 years
E use with caution (coefficient of variation is high, 16.6% to 33.3%)
F too unreliable to be published
Note: Percentages do not add up to 100% due to rounding.
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2004.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
29
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
of stalking behaviour, the act must have caused them to
fear for their safety or the safety of someone known to them
(Figure 17).
As shown in Figure 18, results of the GSS indicate that expartners are more likely than other stalkers to intimidate or
threaten their victims and more likely to grab or attack them.
Although substantial percentages of stalking victims in all
relationship categories feared their lives were in danger,
this climbs to 60% for women who were stalked by former
spouses.
This is a relatively new area of study, but those who have
examined stalking within the context of intimate partner
relationships have found strong associations between
physical and sexual violence by intimate partners and
stalking (Tjaden and Thoennes 1998; Logan et al. 2000).
The link between partner violence and stalking is confirmed
by the GSS. Three-quarters of women who were stalked by
an ex-partner within the previous five years also had been
physically or sexually assaulted by an ex-partner.
Summary of prevalence and severity of violence
against women
These indicators of the prevalence and severity of spousal
assault, spousal homicide, sexual assault, and criminal
harassment were developed using victimization data and
police-reported data.
Some research suggests that intimate partner stalkers
may be the most dangerous of all (Palarea et al. 1999). In
other words, stalkers are most likely to be violent toward
those individuals with whom they have had an intimate
relationship. Stalking has been identified as one of the
primary risk factors for attempted and actual murder of
female partners (McFarlane et al. 2002).
According to two consecutive cycles of the GSS, women
are more likely than men to be victims of the most severe
and frequent forms of spousal assault. However, the
prevalence and severity of this violence are showing signs
of a decline. Although the actual number of women who
Figure 17
Percentage of women and men aged 15 years and over who reported some form of stalking, by type of stalking,
past five years, 2004
52
Repeated/obscene phone calls
39
34
Following/spying
18
18
Waited outside his/her home
10
23
Waited outside work, school or other
12
8
Unwanted e-mailing
4
Unwanted gifts, letters or cards
5E
Persistent date requests despite repeated
refusals
Female victims
Male victims
11
17
E
4
10
Any other unwanted communication
E
5
34
Threats/intimidation through someone else
56
Intimidation via hurting pets/damaging
property
18
24
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
Percent over 5 years
E
use with caution (coefficient of variation is high, 16.6% to 33.3%)
Notes: Percentages do not add to 100% due to multiple responses. Differences between women and men are statistically significant.
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2004.
30
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Figure 18
Female victims stalked by an ex-spouse are more likely to experience violence or threats, 2004
Victim-stalker relationship
4
Stranger
8
31
13
Neighbour/friend/co-worker/
person known by sight
Grabbed or attacked
Intimidated or threatened
Feared for her life
23
26
13
Other relative
33
40
30
33
Ex-boyfriend
41
42
Ex-spouse
54
60
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
Percent of female stalking victims
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2004.
reported experiencing spousal assault in the previous year
remains constant, there has been a decline in five-year
prevalence rates.
men, and are twice as likely to be stalked by former intimate
partners.Three-quarters of incidents of criminal harassment
reported to police were directed at female victims.
For spousal homicide, rates have decreased in recent years.
However, it is still the case that more men than women kill
their intimate partners every year.
The decline in the prevalence and severity of spousal
assault suggested by victimization surveys, together with
the decrease in spousal homicide, may be a result of
improved social interventions and the increased use of
services by abused women. However, additional data are
needed to draw definitive conclusions on the question of
how societal efforts have intervened to reduce or prevent
violence.
Rates of sexual assault remained constant between 1999
and 2004, but the number recorded by police has declined
since 1993. The most serious types of sexual assault,
levels II and III have declined more dramatically. Women
experience higher rates of criminal harassment than do
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
31
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Impact of violence against women
transport, compared with 29% of men. Another 16% of
women felt unsafe walking alone after dark compared with
6% of men. Even in their homes, 27% of women were
worried about their safety alone at night as opposed to
12% of men.
One of the challenges of measuring the impact of violence
against women is the difficulty in adequately reflecting
the broad range of impacts on individual women in
psychological and physical terms, as well as the broader
societal-level costs of supplying services to victims. A single
incident of physical or sexual assault can be a life-shattering
experience and can have negative impacts on a victim’s
physical and emotional well-being. The impacts on children
living in a violent home can stay with them over the longer
term and can result in a continuation of violence through
generations. This section examines four dimensions of
the impact of violence on women: psychological, physical,
societal and economic.
As illustrated in Figure 19, female victims of spousal
assault responding to the 2004 GSS often described the
psychological consequences of the assaults in negative
terms, including:
• being upset and confused;
• suffering lowered self-esteem;
• suffering depression and anxiety attacks;
• suffering shame and guilt;
• suffering sleeping problems;
• fearing for themselves and their children.
Psychological impacts of violence
While substantial percentages of male victims of spousal
assault also reported negative psychological consequences,
they were much more likely than women to say the
experience had little or no effect on them (30% of male
victims compared with 6% of females) (Figure 19).
Whether or not they have personally experienced violence,
women report higher levels of fear for their personal safety.
The 2004 General Social Survey (GSS) indicates that
among public transit users, 58% of women were worried
about their safety after dark while waiting for or using public
Figure 19
Psychological consequences of spousal violence victims, 2004¹
Upset/confused/frustrated
37
28
Angry
37
25
Fearful
30
5E
Hurt/disappointed
25
12
Depressed/anxiety attacks
21
9E
Lowered self-esteem
17
4E
Shock/disbelief
16
13
15
Sleeping problems
4E
More cautious/aware
16
7
12
Victimized
5E
Annoyed
7
Ashamed/guilty
3
Afraid for children
9
8
F
Experienced problems relating to men/women
8
F
6
Not much
0
12
E
2E
Increased self-reliance
Female victims
Male victims
10
E
5
E
30
10
15
20
25
30
35
40
Percent over 5 years
E
use with caution (coefficient of variation is high, 16.6% to 33.3%)
F too unreliable to be published
1. Includes women and men who experienced violence by a current or previous partner in the past five-year period.
Note: Figures may not add up to 100% due to multiple responses.
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2004.
32
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
victims who experienced 10 or more incidents of violence
and those who feared for their lives declined between 1999
and 2004. However, at the same time, the percentage of
women who were physically injured by a violent spouse
increased from 40% to 44% of all female victims.
Physical consequences
Acts of spousal assault against women are more likely to
result in physical consequences for victims than assaults
against men (Figure 20). Women are:
• more than twice as likely as male victims to be physically
injured by partners;
• six times more likely to receive medical attention;
• five times more likely to be hospitalized due to
injuries;
• three times more likely to have to take time off paid
or unpaid work to deal with the consequences of the
violence;
• twice as likely to report chronic, ongoing assaults (10
or more).
Societal-level costs
The societal costs of spousal violence in terms of supplying
and maintaining medical services, counselling and shelter
services, and criminal justice services are also greater for
female victims. Women are more likely to suffer serious
spousal assaults, and as a result they are more likely to
require and to use the services of social services agencies,
such as counsellors, crisis lines, family centres and shelters.
They are also twice as likely to look to the police for
protection from a violent spouse (Figure 21). (The section
Victims’ use of services explores in greater detail factors
associated with reporting spousal violence to the police).
Perhaps the most salient indicator of seriousness is the
woman’s fear that her life is in danger from a violent spouse.
Again, women were more than three times as likely as
men to say they feared for their lives from a violent spouse.
This represents approximately 224,000 women. This is
consistent with the data that indicate that women suffer
from more severe acts of spousal assault and are more
likely to be killed by a spouse.
The costs to families and to society that result from
children being exposed to violence against a parent can
be severe and can include psychological, social, cognitive
and behavioural maladjustment problems (Fantuzzo et al.
1991; Graham-Bermann and Levendosky 1998; Moore and
Pepler 1998; Berman et al. 2004).
There are indications that the impact of spousal violence for
women is lessening in some respects. The percentage of
Figure 20
Impact of spousal violence for victims
44
Were physically injured
19
13
Received medical attention
2E
10
Were hospitalized
Female victims
Male victims
2E
29
Took time off daily activities
10
21
Experienced 10+ assaults
11
34
Feared for their lives
10
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
40
45
50
Percent of spousal violence victims
E
use with caution (coefficient of variation is high, 16.6% to 33.3%)
Note: Figures may not add up to 100% due to multiple responses.
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2004.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
33
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Figure 21
Societal impacts of spousal violence
47
Victims used social services
20
36
Victims reported to police
17
40
Children witnessed violence
against their mother/father
25
0
5
10
15
20
25
Female victims
Male victims
30
35
40
45
50
Percent over 5 years
Note: Figures may not add up to 100% due to multiple responses.
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2004.
As Figure 21 shows, children witnessed spousal assaults
in a substantial number of cases reported to the 2004 GSS.
“Witnessing” violence on this survey includes seeing or
hearing incidents of violence. As well, children were more
often present in assaults against women than in assaults
against men. It is estimated that over a five-year period
at least 258,000 children were aware of spousal violence
against their mothers (reported by 40% of female victims
of spousal violence) and 136,000 knew of assaults on their
fathers (reported by 25% of male victims). Some children
witness particularly severe assaults on their mothers: in half
of incidents witnessed by children, the woman was injured
and in half she feared her life was in danger.
These may be conservative estimates, as research
suggests that parents may minimize or discount the extent
to which their children are aware of the spousal violence
committed against them (Jaffe et al. 1990; O’Brien et al.
1994).There is evidence from the Violence Against Women
Survey (VAWS) that violence can contribute in the long
run to the formation of single-parent families: 68% of all
single mothers reported experiencing violence in previous
marriages and common-law unions. This places them at
risk of economic hardship (see Appendix 1 for an overview
of economic equality indicators).
34
Economic costs
Economic or financial costs of violence to victims and
society are another measure of its impact, but they are
difficult to gauge. There are no studies that have examined
the total economic cost of all types of violence against
women. Four Canadian studies have estimated partial
economic costs (Table 3).They cannot be directly compared
due to differing methodologies and assumptions inherent in
the research, and none is completely comprehensive. They
provide indications that the economic impact of violence
on victims and Canadian society in a single year, including
costs related to health, criminal justice, social services and
lost productivity, can range in the billions of dollars.
The only study that examined the economic cost of child
abuse to victims and adult survivors estimates the cost to
be $15 billion with $11 billion associated with lost earnings
alone (Bowlus et al. 2003).
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Table 3
Economic costs of violence against women
Author
Focus of cost estimate
Cost estimate
Geographic area
Day 1995
Medical, dental, lost productivity, drug and
alcohol abuse, shelters and other services
$1.5 billion
Canada, 1993
Greaves et al. 1995
Criminal justice, compensation, medical, shelters
and other services, lost productivity
$4.2 billion
Canada, 1993
Kerr and McLean 1996
Criminal justice, compensation, services for
victims and offenders, shelters, lost productivity
$385 million
British Columbia,
1994/1995
Bowlus et al. 2003
Costs of child abuse to child victims and adult:
survivors criminal justice, compensation, health,
education, social services, lost earnings
$15 billion, with
over $11 billion due
to lost wages alone
Canada, 1998
Summary of impact of violence against
women
The impact of violence on women and on society as a
whole can be a complex matter to quantify. In this section,
the impact of this problem was assessed on various levels,
including psychological, physical and societal impacts and
economic costs for individual women and society as a
whole.
Female victims, in comparison with male victims, are
more likely to report negative emotional and psychological
consequences of spousal violence, and less likely to report
that the assault had little or no effect on them. Female
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
victims were also more than twice as likely as male victims
to be physically injured and six times more likely to receive
medical attention. Children were witnesses in greater
numbers to the violence inflicted on their mothers, and
they witnessed more serious types of violence against
their mothers.
Four Canadian studies documented that the economic
costs associated with violence against women related to
health care, criminal justice, social services and lost income
are substantial. These indicators show that violence has a
range of negative impacts that extend beyond victims and
their families to society as a whole.
35
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Risk factors associated with
violence against women
Certain socio-demographic characteristics of victims and
offenders are associated with higher rates of violence.
These risk factors cannot be said to be causes of violence;
instead they are factors that help identify the context in which
violence occurs. Information on risk factors is helpful to the
development of prevention strategies and interventions
designed to help reduce violence. Due to the nature of
victimization surveys, the majority of risk factors examined
in the study of violence against women relate to the female
victims as opposed to offenders.
Age is also a risk factor for spousal homicide. Homicide
rates are highest for young couples and decline among
older age groups (Figure 23). While this is the case for both
male and female victims, rates are higher for women in all
age groups. This corresponds with indicators showing that
women are subject to more frequent and more severe forms
of spousal assaults.
Age
Being young and female are risk factors for sexual assault.
Eighty-six percent of victims of sexual offences reported to
the police in 2004 were female. However, the percentage of
sexual offences involving male victims is higher for younger
victims. In incidents involving the most vulnerable age group,
children under 12 years of age, 30% of victims were male.
Fewer teenage and adult victims were male (Figure 24).4
The vulnerability of youth to sexual violence is emphasized
by the fact that, overall, youth under 18 represented 22%
of the Canadian population in 2004 but made up 58% of
victims of sexual offences.
Rates of violence continue to be highest among the youngest
women. Young women under 25 show the highest rates of
sexual assault and criminal harassment, and these rates
decline with increasing age (Figure 22). Sample counts
were too low in the case of spousal violence to produce
statistically reliable estimates of rates by age group.
These data suggest that preventative educational programs
aimed at young boys and girls are warranted to reduce violence.
Attention is also needed in the formative relationship-building
years of adolescence to teach development of healthy
relationships, awareness of personal safety, and the
availability of supports and services.
Risk factors in this section are identified for spousal
assault, sexual assault, criminal harassment and spousal
homicide.3
See notes at the end of the text.
Figure 22
One-year rates of sexual assault and criminal harassment against women, by woman’s age, 2004
Percent over 1 year
10
9
Sexual assault
Criminal harassment (stalking)
9
8
7
6
6
6
5
4
4
3
3
3
2
2
1
1
0
Under 25
25 to 34
35 to 44
45 and over
Age group of victim
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2004.
36
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Figure 23
Rates of spousal homicide by age group and sex of victim, 1975 to 2004
Rate per 100,000 spouses¹
2.5
Female victims
Male victims
2.0
2.0
1.5
1.3
1.2
1.0
0.8
0.7
0.6
0.4
0.4
0.5
0.3
0.2
0.0
15 to 24
25 to 34
35 to 44
45 to 54
55 and over
Age group of victim
1. Rates are calculated per 100,000 spouses (legally married, separated, divorced and common-law men and women 15 years of age and over). Population estimates
provided at July 1st by Statistics Canada, Census and Demographic Statistics, Demography Division.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Homicide Survey.
Figure 24
Sexual offences¹ recorded by police, by sex and age group of victims, 2004
Percent of victims
100
90
80
93
89
Female victims
Male victims
70
70
60
50
40
30
30
20
11
10
7
0
0 to 11
12 to 17
18 and over
Age group of victim
1. Sexual offences include sexual assault (levels 1, 2 and 3) as well as other sexual violations.
Note: Data are provided from a non-representative subset of 120 police departments accounting for approximately 58% of the national volume of crime.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
37
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Women killed by spouses during marital separation also
outnumber women in similar situations in the general
population: 26% of female spousal homicide victims were
separated compared with just 4% of women in the population.
Male spousal homicide victims are also disproportionately
separated, but the percentage of men killed by separated
spouses is lower than for women (10%).
Relationship type
Rates of spousal violence are higher for women living
in common-law unions than for those in marriages. This
may be related to the fact that common-law couples tend
to be younger than couples in legal marriages and the
men in common-law relationships have higher rates of
unemployment (see discussion to follow on socio-economic
factors).
In 2004, half of the women who reported experiencing
spousal assault by a past partner indicated that the violence
occurred after the couple separated, and in one-third of
post-separation assaults the violence became more severe
or actually began after the separation. Spousal homicides
against separating women have been attributed to extreme
possessiveness or jealousy on the part of male perpetrators,
and to an attempt to maintain control over female partners
through the use of violence (Wilson et al. 1995). In half of
all ex-partner homicides against women between 1991 and
1999, the woman was killed within two months of leaving
the relationship (Hotton 2001).
The number of spousal homicides occurring in commonlaw relationships is disproportionate to their number in the
general population (Figure 25).5 Between 1991 and 2004,
homicides involving common-law partners represented
34% of all spousal homicides against women and 58% of
spousal homicides against men. According to the Census,
just 12% of women and 13% of men were living in commonlaw relationships over the same time period.
Although legally married women represent over one-third
of spousal homicide victims, they represent about threequarters of women in current or former spousal relationships,
which suggests that their risk of spousal homicide is
lower than for those living in common-law relationships.
See notes at the end of the text.
Figure 25
Spousal homicide accused-victim relationships compared to the percentage distribution of marital status in the
general population,1,2 1991 to 2004
Percent
90
80
Spousal population (15 years of
age and over)
74
77
Accused-victim relationship
70
58
60
50
40
38
34
30
20
10
31
26
12
9
4
2
10
3
13
7
0
0
Married Separated Divorced Common- Married Separated Divorced Commonlaw
law
Women (N = 929 spousal homicide victims)
Men (N = 238 spousal homicide victims)
1. Spousal population estimates provided at July 1st by Statistics Canada, Census and Demographic Statistics, Demography Division.
2. Excludes (ex) same-sex spouses.
Note: Figures may not total to 100% due to rounding.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Homicide Survey.
38
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Women are particularly vulnerable when they are pregnant.
With regard to pregnancy, the Violence Against Women
Survey (VAWS) found that 21% of abused women were
assaulted during pregnancy, and in 40% of these cases,
this episode was the beginning of the abuse.
agencies over a 10-year period, 2.5% involved same-sex
couples. About one-quarter (28%) were female couples and
72% were male couples (Ogrodnik 2006).
The extreme vulnerability to violence by women in the sex
trade often goes unnoticed. According to police reports
submitted to Statistics Canada, between 1991 and 2004,
171 female prostitutes were killed and 45% of these
homicides remain unsolved (i.e., police have not been able
to identify a perpetrator).
Emotional and psychological abuse has been determined to
be one of the most important predictors of physical and sexual
violence in spousal relationships. Figure 26 shows the higher
rates of spousal assaults against women by a partner who
uses various psychologically abusive tactics. While the
use of psychologically abusive tactics is a form of abuse
in itself, it also appears to be a risk factor and an indicator
of escalating severity of physical and sexual assaults. As
indicated in the figure, the use of psychologically abusive
tactics is associated with the commission of assaults in a
substantial percentage of cases.
Emotional and psychological abuse
Violence perpetrated in same-sex couples is an important
area of study but very little data exist to describe the
extent or nature of the problem. The 2004 General Social
Survey (GSS) inquired about sexual orientation and results
showed that spousal violence was twice as common among
homosexual couples compared with heterosexual couples:
15% and 7% respectively. It was not possible to calculate
rates of spousal violence for male and female couples
separately due to low sample sizes. Among the spousal
violence cases that were dealt with by a subset of police
For example, where women experienced psychological
abuse in the form of intentional damage to their personal
property, 61% were also assaulted by their spouses,
compared with 3% of women whose property was not
damaged by a current partner.These data indicate that male
spouses who demonstrate any of the following behaviours
Figure 26
Percentage of women assaulted by partners when psychological abuse was present (current partner), 2004
61
Damaging property
3
Harming/threatening to harm
someone close
57
3
37
Put-downs and name-calling
2
22
Checking her whereabouts
This type of psychological
abuse was present
Not present
3
24
Limiting contact with others
3
25
Jealousy
3
33
Preventing access to income
3
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
Percent over 5 years
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2004.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
39
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
have much higher rates of physically or sexually assaulting
their female spouse than those who do not:
• harming or threatening to harm someone close to
her;
• putting her down or calling her names to make her feel
bad;
• demanding to know who she is with and where she is
at all times;
• limiting her contacts with family or friends;
• being jealous and not wanting her to talk to other
men;
• preventing her from knowing about or having access to
the family income, even if she asks.
at the time of the interview. Figure 27 illustrates a similar
pattern for women describing physical or sexual violence
by previous spousal partners.
Socio-economic factors
Factors such as low income have been linked to higher rates
of spousal assault against women. For example, in 2004,
rates of spousal assault were twice as high for women with
a household income of less than $60,000 compared with
those with higher incomes.
It is unclear whether low income is a risk factor, a
consequence of violence or a combination of both. The
stresses associated with living in low-income situations
may lead to frustration and tension in the family and to the
use of violence as a response. Alternatively, violence may
lead to separation which results in a reduction of income for
both victim and offender in subsequent relationships. Steady
employment also may be affected by injury, contacts with the
criminal justice system, or other negative consequences of
spousal violence. Lack of resources may also be a factor in
preventing women from leaving violent relationships.
Knowing that the risk of perpetrating spousal violence is
elevated among those who demonstrate certain attitudes
and behaviours towards their female partners may prove
useful in the development of interventions for abusers and
prevention programs aimed at the wider society.
Figure 26 illustrates that rates of spousal assault (physical
or sexual violence in a conjugal context) are up to 20 times
higher for women whose male partners demonstrate these
behaviours. This describes relationships that were current
Figure 27
Percentage of women assaulted by partners when psychological abuse was present (previous partner), 2004
12
Damaging property
56
Harming/threatening to harm
someone close
16
54
5
Put-downs and name-calling
42
12
Checking her whereabouts
47
12
Limiting contact with others
50
9
Jealousy
46
17
Preventing access to income
44
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
Percent over 5 years
Not present
This type of psychological abuse was present
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2004.
40
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Alcohol abuse
Visible minority and immigrant women
Many research studies have established a strong link
between alcohol abuse and spousal assault of women
(Barnett and Fagan 1993; Fagan et al. 1988; Leonard 1999;
Johnson 2001). According to the 1993 VAWS, women
whose spouses drank heavily (five or more drinks at least
once per month) reported experiencing one-year rates
of violence that were five times as high as those whose
spouses drank moderately or not at all. Patterns were similar
in the 1999 and 2004 GSS.
According to the GSS, visible minority status does not raise
the risk for spousal violence. Visible minority women report
lower five-year rates of spousal violence than other women:
4% compared with 8% (Figure 28). Rates of spousal violence
also declined for visible minority women between 1999 and
2004, whereas they remained stable for other women.6
Since the GSS is conducted only in English and French,
these figures may under-represent the actual rates of spousal
violence against visible minority and immigrant women, as
some may not have been able to participate in the survey.
This survey therefore cannot tell us if not being fluent in
either official language is associated with higher rates
of spousal violence victimization. According to the 2001
Census, 2.6 million women in Canada were not fluent in
either English or French.
In 2004, female victims of spousal assault were more
likely than male victims to state that their spouse had been
drinking at the time of the violent incident (44% compared to
24%). Alcohol abuse at the time of the incident tends to result
in more frequent assaults and a higher level of injury.
Rates of spousal violence are also lower for immigrant
women and declined slightly since 1999 (Figure 29). There
is no difference in the estimated rate of spousal violence for
recent immigrants who arrived in Canada since 1990 and
longer-term immigrants (5% for both groups of women).
It is clear that alcohol use is highly correlated with spousal
violence but alcohol abuse cannot be said to be a direct cause
of violence. Alcohol abusers tend to have other risk factors
for violence, such as low occupational status and attitudes
approving of violence against women (Kantor and Straus,
1990). When income and alcohol are considered together
with the presence of controlling and psychologically abusive
behaviours, the latter predominates over alcohol as the most
important risk factor for spousal assault (Johnson 2001).
The lower rates of spousal violence for visible minority women
may be partially explained by the fact that some of the risk
See notes at the end of the text.
Figure 28
Five-year rates of spousal violence by visible minority status and sex of victim, 1999 and 2004
Percent over 5 years
20
Visible minority
Non-visible minority
18
16
14
12
10
8
8
8
7
7
6
4E
6
4E
4E
4
2
0
Women
Men
1999
Women
Men
2004
E
use with caution (coefficient of variation is high, 16.6% to 33.3%)
Note: The difference between 1999 and 2004 for visible minority women is statistically significant.
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 1999, 2004.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
41
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Figure 29
Five-year rates of spousal violence for immigrant women, 1999 and 2004
Percent over 5 years
20
Non-immigrant
Immigrant
18
16
14
12
10
8
8
8
7
6
7
6
5
4
4
4
2
0
Women
Men
Women
1999
Men
2004
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 1999, 2004.
Figure 30
Five-year rates of psychological abuse against women by spousal partners, by type of abuse and visible minority
status, 2004
2E
Damaging property
Visible minority women
Non-visible minority women
5
2E
Harming/threatening to harm
someone close
4
5
Put-downs and name-calling
14
7
Checking her whereabouts
8
E
5
Limiting contact with others
7
7
Jealousy
10
4E
4
Preventing access to income
0
5
10
15
20
25
Percent over 5 years
E
use with caution (coefficient of variation is high, 16.6% to 33.3%)
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2004.
42
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Figure 31
Five-year rates of psychological abuse against spousal partners, by type of abuse and immigrant status, 2004
2
Damaging property
Immigrant women
6
Harming/threatening to harm
someone close
Non-immigrant women
2
4
8
Put-downs and name-calling
14
6
Checking her whereabouts
8
4
Limiting contact with others
7
6
Jealousy
10
4
4
Preventing access to income
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
18
20
Percent over 5 years
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2004.
factors for violence are less likely to be present for this group of
women. For example, visible minority and immigrant women
reported lower rates of emotional and psychological abuse
compared with other women (Figure 30 and Figure 31),
lower rates of heavy drinking among spousal partners, and
lower prevalence of common-law unions.
Summary of risk factors
A combination of victimization survey data and police
statistics help identify factors that raise the risk of violent
victimization. Rates of sexual assault, stalking and homicide
are higher for younger women. Being female increases the
risk of sexual assault, stalking by intimate partners, serious
spousal assaults and spousal homicide. For males, being
under 12 years old heightens their vulnerability to sexual
offences.
Partners’ use of psychological and emotional abuse, and
partners’ alcohol abuse elevate the risk of violence against
women in intimate relationships. Separation from a violent
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
partner can also increase the risk of spousal violence and
homicide. Stalking by male ex-partners is associated with
a heightened risk of violence and homicide.
Although visible minority women do not report higher levels
of spousal violence to the GSS, they may have special
needs related to the provision of interventions and services
that are culturally and linguistically appropriate. Current
survey techniques may undercount the rate of spousal
violence among visible minority women, particularly those
who are not fluent in English or French.
Reliable information about sub-groups in the population
at greatest risk of spousal assault, spousal homicide,
criminal harassment and sexual assault is essential for
the development of prevention and intervention efforts.
This information can help focus resources in order to
have the biggest impact on prevention, and can aid in the
development of services where the needs are greatest.
43
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Institutional and community-based
responses
Thirty years ago, violence against women in the home was
regarded by many as a private “family matter.” In the early
1980s, charging and prosecution policies for spousal assault
were introduced in Canada starting with the Royal Canadian
Mounted Police (RCMP) federal guidelines. Some form of
spousal assault policy (known as “zero-tolerance” or “nodrop” policies) was in place in most Canadian jurisdictions
by 1985 (Federal/Provincial/Territorial Working Group
2003). These spousal assault policies were introduced as
a response to concerns that victims of spousal violence
were not receiving adequate protection from the criminal
justice system. Transferring the onus of laying charges to the
police and Crown prosecutors removed the pressure from
the victims, sending a clear message that spousal assault is
not a private matter, but a serious and unacceptable social
problem and a clear violation of the law.
Innovative court responses to spousal assault cases have
been implemented in Winnipeg, various cities in Alberta,
cities throughout Ontario, Watson Lake and Whitehorse in
the Yukon Territory, as well as the Battlefords and Saskatoon
in Saskatchewan.
Since 2002, when the original Assessing Violence Against
Women document was published, almost every province
and territory in Canada has passed civil domestic violence
legislation and/or government action plans against domestic
violence.
Given the data illustrating the higher risk for Aboriginal
women, and those in northern and remote communities,
the passage of the Northwest Territories’ Protection
Against Family Violence Act in 2004 was a significant
achievement. The Yukon government has had domestic
violence legislation in effect since 1999 and additions
were introduced in 2005 (see Appendix 3). The Nunavut
Department of Justice is actively working on policy
directions that may include domestic violence legislation
in the near future and, as such, is currently engaged in a
public consultative process.
The government of Newfoundland and Labrador recently
passed domestic violence legislation which came into force
in 2006. Other jurisdictions have reviewed their legislation to
more clearly define issues related to imminent danger and
danger to children witnessing abuse and to provide access
to protection orders for women in remote communities.
Manitoba’s domestic violence legislation was amended
in 2005 to include those in abusive dating relationships,
whether the couple had previously lived together or not.
44
This amendment increases the act’s applicability to victims
of stalking and abuse. In 2005, the province of Québec
amended its Code Civil du Québec to allow tenants to
cancel their lease if their security or that of a child living with
them is threatened because of acts of violence by a spouse
or ex-spouse or because of a sexual assault.
For the purpose of this report, institutional responses
are presented for which national-level data are available:
community-based shelters, treatment programs for violent
men, and other types of services for victims. These
indicators also include data related to the response of the
criminal justice system, such as the conviction rates and
sentences for spousal violence and sexual offences.
Shelters for abused women
Shelters for abused women in Canada, like rape crisis
centres, were initiated by volunteers and community
organizations. While the majority of shelters now receive
government funding, many rely on additional funding
through private donations. When asked to identify the top
three issues and challenges they will be facing in the coming
year, shelters in 2003/04 identified funding, staffing and
affordable housing for women upon departure as the most
important (Taylor-Butts 2005).
Official records have been kept on women’s shelters since
1975, when only 18 shelters existed in Canada. Between
1975 and 2004, there was a relatively steady increase in
the number of new agencies being established, particularly
between 1979 and 1992 when over 200 new shelters were
opened. By 2004, 543 shelters were in operation throughout
Canada (Figure 32).7
Investments by community groups, Canada Mortgage and
Housing Corporation (CMHC), and provincial and territorial
governments have contributed to this development of a
substantial system of shelters for abused women in Canada.
Currently, every province and territory provides residential
services for abused women. These facilities offer not only
a secure and safe environment, but also a broad range of
services for women and children living in shelters and in
the larger community.
The number of shelters for abused women is not necessarily
an indicator of the severity or prevalence of violence against
women since the existence of shelters depends largely
on factors such as the availability of government or nongovernment funds and qualified staff, particularly in smaller
See notes at the end of the text.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Figure 32
Change in the number of shelters
Number of shelters
600
508
524
543
2002
2004
470
500
400
405
376
371
1992
1993
280
300
200
75
100
18
0
1975
1979
1989
1995
1998
2000
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Transition Home Survey.
and remote communities. Furthermore, shelters are a shortterm escape from a serious problem and cannot solely
address the larger problem of spousal violence.
jurisdictions as they exclude many federal and provincial
correctional-based services.
Other victim services
Treatment programs for abusive men
Some records have been maintained on treatment
programs for violent men since 1984, when only 28
programs operated in Canada.The number of programs has
risen but has remained fairly steady since 1998. In 2004,
205 treatment programs for violent men were counted in
Health Canada’s inventory.
This matches the overall upward trend in services directed
at female victims of spousal violence. This trend coincided
with other factors, including:
• a recent growth in specialized domestic violence
courts, which are more likely to impose treatment as a
component of sentencing;
• a general increased tendency to hold abusers
accountable for their violent behaviour, which in many
cases results in treatment orders in areas where these
services exist.
All programs included in Figure 33 are listed in Canada’s
Treatment Programs for Men Who Abuse Their Partners
(Health Canada 1994, 1997, 1999, 2002 and 2004).
They are not restricted to government or court-ordered
programs and include many community-based programs.
However, these figures are not likely comprehensive for all
A range of other services have been established to assist
victims of crime, including rape crisis and sexual assault
centres, police-based victim assistance programs, courtbased programs, community-based agencies, and criminal
injuries compensation programs.
The Victim Services Survey documented 606 services
for victims of crime across Canada in 2003, including 105
sexual assault centres (Table 4).8 However, the profiles
of programs available in the provinces and territories
vary considerably, due to differences in the structure
and organization of programs. For example, the Atlantic
provinces and Manitoba have system-based services and
Quebec has community-based services that assist victims
throughout their contact with the criminal justice system
from the police right through to the corrections stage. Other
jurisdictions such as Saskatchewan, Alberta and British
Columbia have larger numbers of police-based services.
Specialized domestic violence courts
Specialized domestic violence courts were established in
recognition that violence involving family members differs
in important respects to violence between strangers or
See notes at the end of the text.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
45
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Figure 33
Number of treatment programs for violent men
Number of programs
250
201
205
204
186
200
161
150
123
114
100
100
50
28
0
1984
1988
1991
1994
1997
1998
1999
2002
2004
Source: Health Canada, Canada’s Treatment Programs for Men Who Abuse Their Partners, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2004.
Table 4
Number of victim services in Canada, the provinces and territories, by type of service, 2002/2003
Type of service
Canada
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island
Nova Scotia
New Brunswick
Québec
Ontario
Manitoba
Saskatchewan
Alberta
British Columbia
Yukon Territory
Northwest Territories
Nunavut
Policebased
Court
based
246
…
…
24
2
…
9
5
19
98
87
…
…
…
62
…
…
…
…
…
39
2
3
6
9
1
2
1
Other
System- communitybased1
based2
46
10
2
5
14
…
…
13
…
…
…
2
…
…
117
1
…
…
1
20
44
1
6
3
38
…
4
1
Sexual
assault
centres
Criminal
injuries
compensation
105
1
1
1
1
23
59
9
…
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
…
…
…
3
5
11
…
…
…
Other3
Total
services
21
…
…
…
…
…
10
…
2
3
6
…
…
…
606
12
4
31
19
44
162
22
34
116
152
3
6
2
… not applicable
1. Services under this model assist victims throughout their contact with the criminal justice system from the police right through to the corrections stage. This model can be
characterized as “one-stop” service delivery.
2. Includes Ontario Victim Crisis Assistance and Referral agencies, which are community-based but work directly with the police.
3. Includes 9 sexual assault/partner or domestic violence treatment centres, 11 agencies that offered combined types of services and 1 other type of agency.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Victim Services Survey, 2002/03.
acquaintances. Among other challenges, family violence
cases tend to have a higher percentage of reluctant victims
and witnesses, and there was concern that traditional criminal
justice sanctions, such as fines and prison sentences, may
do little to prevent the continuation of violence (Federal/
Provincial/Territorial Working Group 2003).
46
In Canada, several jurisdictions have established special
courts or court processes to respond to cases of spousal
violence. Although some of the details of the processes
differ among jurisdictions, the primary objectives are the
same: to provide mechanisms that focus on the special
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
nature of family violence through court officials who have
an understanding of the dynamics of these cases (Federal/
Provincial/Territorial Working Group 2003). The aim of the
courts is to facilitate the early intervention and prosecution
of family violence cases, provide support to victims and
increase offender accountability.
Winnipeg Family Violence Court
Winnipeg established the first Family Violence Court in
1990. The response in Winnipeg is composed of five
components:
• a pro-arrest or zero-tolerance policy;
• a women’s advocacy and child victim witness
program;
• a specialized prosecutorial unit;
• specially designated courtrooms and dockets for intake,
screening and trials;
• a special unit in the probation office to deliver courtmandated treatment programs.
Conviction and sentencing sends a strong message that
spousal assault is a crime, and is reinforced with an equally
strong commitment to treatment programs for violent men
(Ursel 2000).
Ontario
Every Domestic Violence Court site must have the following
core components:
• an advisory committee of justice and community
representatives to support the work of the Domestic
Violence Court Program;
• interpreters (to assist victims who do not speak English
to communicate with police, Crowns and victim support
staff);
• enhanced investigative procedures by police (including
use of a risk indicator tool);
• designated Victim/Witness Assistance Program staff
specially trained to give support, information and
referrals to victims;
• designated Crowns specially trained in the prosecution
of domestic violence cases, in order to produce
consistency and continuity;
• specialized intervention programs for abusive partners
with an outreach component to victims;
• specialized case management policies for Probation
and Parole staff;
• service in French of comparable quality to service
in English in all aspects of Domestic Violence
Court initiatives in the 23 designated regions of the
province;
• a hospital-based Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence
Treatment Centre (where they exist) to collect forensic
evidence; and,
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
•
specialized processing to expedite cases and ensure
coordination of services.
Since 1996, the Ontario government has introduced the
Domestic Violence Court program to 49 court sites and
plans to expand this program to all 54 court jurisdictions in
the province. An evaluation of the Domestic Violence Court
Program will be completed in 2006 and will incorporate
research on the effectiveness of the Partner Assault
Response Program in changing offender attitudes towards
partner violence and research on recidivism rates in the
Domestic Violence Court program.
Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan has implemented domestic violence courts
in North Battleford and Saskatoon and is in the process of
developing a court in Regina. Generally the goals of the
specialized courts are to:
• increase safety for victims of domestic violence and
decrease violent behaviour by their partners;
• provide support for victims and programming for children
who witness domestic violence;
• increase compliance with treatment and rehabilitation
programs;
• increase alternatives to incarceration, particularly for
Aboriginal people;
• develop partnerships with treatment, social service and
community agencies to address the underlying causes
of criminal behaviour; and,
• reduce recidivism.
The Battlefords Domestic Violence Treatment Option Court,
established in April 2003, is a sentencing court. It provides
intensive support and services for victims and their families,
and supports offenders participation in violence prevention
programming. Auxiliary to the Court are community-based
programs for children who witness domestic violence and
support programs for female victims of violence. A Steering
Committee made up of representatives from government
departments and community-based organizations meets
regularly to provide advice and discuss issues.
The Saskatoon Domestic Violence Court is a trial court
that held its first sitting in September 2005. It deals with
domestic matters set for sentencing as well as those set for
trial or preliminary hearing. Community components that
support the Court include a victim case worker who provides
services to all victims of offences that are before this court
and offender treatment programs. A Steering Committee
meets three times a year in an oversight role.
47
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Alberta
•
The Calgary Domestic Violence Court project, or
HomeFront Calgary as it is now called, started with a first
appearance court in 2000, and expanded to a domestic
violence trial court in March 2005. Results of an evaluation
completed in 2004 indicate that offenders who went through
the HomeFront program were much less likely to commit
new offences: 12% compared to a baseline sample of 34%
(Hoffart and Clarke 2004).
•
Domestic violence courts in Alberta have expanded to six
other locations including:
• The Edmonton Domestic Violence Trial Court began in
September, 2001. In 2003, this project was expanded
to include a family violence docket court, where all first
appearances for family protection (domestic violence
and child protection) matters are heard.
• The Lethbridge Domestic Violence Docket Courtroom
began operations in 2004. A Domestic Violence Trial
Court was opened in 2005.
• In 2005, Medicine Hat Provincial Court began to address
first appearance and domestic violence trials.
• In 2005, Red Deer Provincial Court began hearing
domestic violence first appearance cases.
• In 2006, Fort McMurray Provincial Court began hearing
first appearance and resolution of domestic violence
cases.
• In June 2006, the Airdrie Domestic Violence Court
opened as the first circuit court in Alberta to implement
special processes to hear domestic violence matters.
The Airdrie circuit court only sits one day per week, so
the goal of the court is early resolution of family violence
docket matters. First appearance dates for these cases
are shortened to within two weeks of the offence date.
At the time of publication, New Brunswick was working on
the development of its first domestic violence court designed
to enhance the justice system response to domestic
violence cases. The goals of the court are:
• timeliness of court processing;
• a dedicated team approach with specialization in
domestic violence for all professionals involved;
• court-monitored accountability and treatment for
offenders and support for women and their children;
• use of risk/need assessment tools by police, probation
and victim services to assist with case management
and treatment;
• enhanced communication between court jurisdictions
(criminal and family court);
• evaluations of the court’s success.
Yukon
Yukon introduced the Domestic Violence Treatment Option
(DVTO) in 2000. This special sitting of the Territorial Court
is devoted to domestic violence cases with a goal of
encouraging abusers to undertake treatment. DVTO was
originally introduced in Whitehorse and has now expanded
to the community of Watson Lake.
Essential components of Yukon DVTO include interagency
collaboration, enhanced police investigations, victim
support, designated prosecution and defence counsel,
treatment programs, and data collection and evaluation to
allow for more effective case management.
A four-year evaluation of Yukon DVTO was released in 2005
(Hornick et al. 2005). The evaluation revealed the following:
• 70% of cases involved First Nations clients;
• 20% of the total cases involved female clients;
48
•
•
•
average time from first appearance to sentencing was
300 days;
60% of DVTO clients had been convicted of at least one
assault previously;
there was a 15% increase in cases where the accused
accepted responsibility for his actions;
there was a 43% increase in early guilty pleas;
the dropout rate (Crown stays or not calling evidence)
was reduced by 29%.
New Brunswick
Sentencing of spousal violence cases in
adult court
Conviction and sentencing information from non-specialized
courts is difficult to obtain because these courts do not
typically keep records on the sex and relationship of victims
and offenders. However, through a pilot study linking the
records from the courts and the police (which do indicate sex
and relationship), Statistics Canada was able to make some
comparisons between the court processing of spousal and
non-spousal cases between 1997/98 and 2001/02.9
This study found that spousal violence made up the largest
single category of convictions involving violent offences,
40% of the total over the five-year period. Over 92% of
convicted spousal violence offenders were male.
Eighty percent of convictions for spousal violence were for
common assault (level I), a higher percentage than any other
relationship category (Figure 34). Although women made up a
smaller number of spousal violence offenders, among those
who were convicted, women were more likely than men to be
convicted of major assault: 31% of women and 10% of men
(Table 5).This is attributable to the fact that higher percentages
of women used weapons in the commission of the offence
See notes at the end of the text.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Figure 34
Convictions for crimes of violence, by offence type and offender-victim relationship, 1997/98 to 2001/20021,2
Unknown
Stranger
Friend/acquaintance
Other family
Spouse
0
20
40
60
80
100
Percentage
Sexual assault
Uttering threats
Major assault³
Criminal harassment
Common assault
Other violent offences4
1. To examine the victim-offender relationship, all cases where there were multiple victims were excluded.
2. Excludes cases where the sex or age of the victim, or the sentence of the offender was unknown.
3. Major assault includes aggravated assault and assault with a weapon causing bodily harm.
4. Other violent offences include homicide, attempted murder, robbery, mischief and other crimes against the person.
Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.
Sources: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey and Adult Criminal Court Survey (linked
database).
Table 5
Number and proportion of male and female spousal violence cases, by offence type1,2
Male offenders
Sexual assault
Major assault
Common assault
Uttering threats
Criminal harassment
Other violent offences3
Total
Female offenders
Total
number
percent
number
percent
number
71
1,243
9,712
712
154
33
11,925
1
10
81
6
1
0
100
0
298
629
37
4
8
976
0
31
64
4
0
1
100
71
1,541
10,341
749
158
41
12,901
1. Excludes cases with multiple accused.
2. Excludes cases where the sex or age of the victim, or the sex or sentence of the offender was unknown.
3. Other violent offences include homicide, attempted homicide, robbery, and other crimes against the person.
Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.
Sources: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey and Adult Criminal Court Survey (linked database).
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
49
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
(Gannon and Brzozowski 2004). Male victims are also less
likely to report spousal violence to police unless the assault
involves injury or a weapon.
In sentencing convicted offenders, the court must take into
account a number of aggravating factors, in addition to the
severity of the act, which could affect the type and length
of sentence imposed. These include, but are not restricted
to, the vulnerability of the victim, such as a spouse or child,
previous criminal record, whether the act is planned or
deliberate and whether the acts occur over a period of time,
the use of weapons, and the presence of children.
Convicted spousal violence offenders were more likely than
other family members, friends/acquaintances or strangers
to be sentenced to a term of probation (72%) and were
less likely than friends and acquaintances or strangers to
receive a prison term (Figure 35). This may be due to the
growing use of court-ordered treatment for abusers as a
condition of a probation order (information about courtordered treatment is unavailable from this study).
Women convicted of spousal violence were more likely than
men to be sentenced to probation while men were more
likely to receive prison sentences (Figure 36). Ex-spouses
were also more likely than current spouses to receive
prison sentences (26% compared with 18%). This was true
regardless of the specific violent offence (i.e., common or
major assault, uttering threats, criminal harassment).
In terms of the length of prison sentences, more than onehalf of prison terms ordered in spousal violence convictions
were one month or less in duration for all offences, with
the exception of major assault. In these cases, one-third of
prison terms were one month or less. Women were more
likely than men to receive prison sentences of one month
or less.
Compared with non-spousal violence cases, spousal
violence cases resulted in average prison sentence lengths
that were longer for convictions of common assault, uttering
threats and criminal harassment. Spouses received shorter
average prison sentences for major assault than did other
perpetrators (Figure 37).
Average probation terms were longer in spousal violence
cases for all violent crime types. The longest probation
orders were given for spousal violence offenders convicted
of criminal harassment, half of whom received a probation
order for a period of two years or more.
Figure 35
Sentences¹ in spousal violence cases compared to other cases, 1997/1998 to 2001/20022,3
Percent of single-conviction cases
80
72
Prison
Conditional sentence
Probation
Fine
Other
42
69
70
60
55
50
40
35
30
30
20
19
17
17
10
10
2
4 3
4
4 5
3
3
3
3
0
Spouse4
Other family
member
Friend or
acquaintance
Stranger
Offender-victim relationship
1. Refers to the most serious sentence imposed.
2. Excludes cases where the sentence was unknown, cases where sex or age of the victim was unknown, and cases involving multiple victims.
3. Includes only single-conviction cases.
4. Includes legally married, common-law, separated and divorced partners aged 15 to 89.
Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.
Sources: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey and Adult Criminal Court Survey (linked
database).
50
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Figure 36
Sentences¹ in spousal violence cases,² by sex of convicted person, 1997/1998 to 2001/2002³
Percent of single-conviction cases
90
77
80
72
70
60
50
40
30
20
20
7
10
2
5
2
4
9
2
0
Prison
Conditional
sentence
Probation
Fine
Other 4
Most serious sentence
Convicted female spouses (N = 976)
Convicted male spouses (N = 11,925)
1. Refers to the most serious sentence imposed.
2. Includes legally married, common-law, separated and divorced partners aged 15 to 89 years old.
3. Includes only single-conviction cases and excludes cases with multiple victims.
4. Other sentences include restitution, compensation, conditional or absolute discharge or a suspended sentence.
Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.
Sources: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey and Adult Criminal Court Survey (linked
database).
Figure 37
Mean prison and probation sentence¹ length for violent crime cases, 1997/1998 to 2001/2002
Number of days
700
661
601
600
468
500
468
448
443
396
412
400
300
199
200
123
100
70
49 53
46 40
66
0
Mean prison
Mean probation
Spousal violence cases
Mean prison
Mean probation
Non-spousal violence cases
Major assault
Common assault
Uttering threats
Criminal harassment
1. Refers to the most serious sentence imposed.
Sources: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey and Adult Criminal Court Survey (linked
database).
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
51
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Figure 38
Length of prison and probation sentences¹ for spousal² violence cases, by sex of convicted person, 1997/1998 to
2001/2002³
Percent of spousal violence cases
70
58
60
Female offenders
Male offenders
61
56
52
50
40
33
30
20
24
21
19
15
11
9
10 10
8
10
8
5
0
0 to 6
months
6 to 12
months
12 to 24
months
Probation
24 or
more
months
1 month
or less
1 to 3
months
3 to 6
months
6 or more
months
Prison
1. Refers to the most serious sentence imposed.
2. Includes legally married, common-law, separated and divorced partners aged 15 to 89 years old.
3. Excludes cases where the sex or age of the victim was unknown, cases where the sentence type or length were unknown, and cases involving multiple victims.
Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.
Sources: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey and Adult Criminal Court Survey (linked
database).
When probation was used in sentencing, women convicted
of spousal violence were more likely than men to receive
probation terms of less than one year (Figure 38). Women
were also more likely than men to be given prison sentences
of one month or less.
Although detailed data are not available nationally on
court outcomes for spousal homicide, an in-depth study
of homicide in Toronto over almost 30 years shows that
the treatment of intimate partner homicide by the courts
has changed since 1974. Compared to three decades
ago, persons accused of intimate partner homicide are
more likely to be convicted, more likely to be convicted of
murder (as opposed to manslaughter), and more likely to
be sentenced to custody for two years or more (federal
prison sentence) (Dawson 2004). The study examines
three time periods: 1974 to 1983, 1984 to 1996 and 1997
to 2002. In the most recent time period, 90% of intimate
partner homicide cases result in conviction compared
with just 68% of cases in 1974 to 1983. The percentage
of offenders convicted of murder rose from 21% to 68%,
and the percentage of convictions that resulted in a federal
prison sentence increased from 70% to 94%. By the latter
part of this period, spousal homicide offenders had higher
52
rankings than other homicide offenders on all of these
measures (conviction rates, murder convictions, federal
prison sentences).
Conviction and sentencing of sexual assault
cases in adult court
Data are available from adult courts in 10 jurisdictions to
examine how courts respond to cases of sexual offences
brought before them. These data cannot be disaggregated
by gender or age and so represent all cases involving sexual
offences regardless of whether the victims are adults or
children, male or female. However, as shown in the section
Risk factors associated with violence against women, 86%
of the victims of sexual offences recorded by the police in
2004 were female.
Just under 4 in 10 cases of sexual assault and sexual
offences that came before adult courts in 2003/04 resulted
in a conviction (see Appendix 2 for sexual assault and
other sexual offence provisions).10 Attempted murder and
homicide are the only violent offences in adult court with a
See notes at the end of the text
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Figure 39
Conviction rates in adult court for sexual assault and other violent crimes, 2003/2004
Conviction rate
60
54
52
50
49
38
40
37
27
30
20
13
10
0
Robbery
Common
assault
Major
assault
Sexual
assault
Other
sexual
offences
Homicide
Attempted
murder
Note: Conviction rates are in terms of cases, not charges. A case comprises one or more charges against an accused person where the charges are disposed of
on the same date.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Adult Criminal Court Survey, 2003/2004.
lower conviction rate than these sexual offences (Figure 39).
Conviction rates include both guilty pleas and convictions
after trial.
About 6 in 10 of those convicted of sexual assault or other
sexual offences in adult court were sentenced to a period of
incarceration (Figure 40). This is similar to the percentage
receiving prison terms for major assault but lower than that
for homicide, attempted murder and robbery.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Conditional sentences, which are suspended prison terms
served in the community, were used in sexual assault cases
more often than in any other violent crime cases. These
sentences were used in 24% of sexual assaults perpetrated
by spouses and 15% of sexual assaults in other contexts
(Gannon and Brzozowski 2004).
53
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Figure 40
Percentage of cases with convictions in adult court resulting in a prison term, 2003/2004
Percent of cases
100
92
91
90
78
80
70
63
61
61
60
47
50
40
30
20
10
0
Homicide Attempted
murder
Robbery
Sexual
assault
Major
assault
Other
sexual
offences
Common
assault
Note: In 2003/04, adult criminal courts in nine provinces and one territory reported to the ACCS. Reporting jurisdictions include: Newfoundland and Labrador,
Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and the Yukon. In addition, in 2003/04
Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Alberta, British Columbia and the Yukon reported superior court data to the ACCS. These jurisdictions
represent approximately 90% of the national adult criminal court caseload.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Adult Criminal Court Survey, 2003/2004.
Summary of institutional and communitybased responses
Since the 1980s, the response to spousal violence has
shifted, as evidenced by the introduction of specialized
criminal justice responses, toward an overall upward trend
in services for victims and perpetrators, and increased use
of first degree murder charges.
Based on national data, the number of community-based
shelters for victims of domestic violence has increased
since 1975, with the largest rise occurring between 1979
and 1992. In addition, treatment programs for violent men
have generally increased since 1984, but have levelled off
in recent years.
54
Spousal violence made up the largest single category of
violent crime cases in non-specialized courts. Over 90% of
convicted spousal violence offenders were male. Average
prison sentences were higher for spousal violence compared
with other types of cases in all but the most serious cases
of assault. Probation lengths were also longer for spousal
violence cases, possibly to accommodate conditions
relating to rehabilitation and treatment of offenders. In terms
of sexual assault, the conviction rate was less than 40%
in 2003/04. Six in 10 sexual offence convictions resulted in
a prison term.
Data from specialized domestic violence courts will help
assess this aspect of the criminal justice system response
to spousal violence.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Victims’ use of services
Among the provinces where reliable data were available,
there had been a substantial increase in the percentage of
female spousal assault victims who contacted the police
between 1993 and 1999. However, reporting rates remained
stable in all provinces in 2004.
Knowledge about victims’ use of services can help answer
questions about where victims turn for help, what types of
violent events are reported to the police or other services,
and perhaps more important, what types are not reported.
Victimization surveys have found that women are more
likely to disclose spousal violence and sexual assault to
informal supports such as friends and family than to police
or other social service agencies. Only a small percentage
of women report crimes of violence to the police, and
although reporting rates are higher in cases involving more
serious violence, even some of the most serious cases are
not reported.
Women’s use of criminal justice and social services may
depend on a number of factors, including:
• awareness and availability of services;
• fear of reprisals by the offender and family and
community members;
• reluctance due to shame or embarrassment;
• fear of negative public reaction;
• accessibility due to linguistic, cultural or physical
barriers;
• accessibility due to financial barriers (including the
woman’s access to a telephone);
• potential impact of accessing services on the woman’s
custody over her children;
• fear of reliving the experience of violence by testifying
before the courts (Gauthier and Laberge 2000; Kelly et
al. 2005; Fugate et al. 2005).
Reporting to police
Spousal violence
Victimization surveys suggest that the percentage of
spousal assaults against women that were reported to
the police increased between 1993 and 1999, but did not
change between 1999 and 2004. In the five-year period prior
to 1993, 29% of female victims reported spousal assaults
to the police, a figure that increased to 37% in 1999 and
was 36% in 2004 (Figure 41).
As of 2003, every province and territory currently had in
place pro-charging and pro-prosecution policies to ensure
that spousal violence is treated as a criminal matter by
the justice system (Federal/Provincial/Territorial Working
Group 2003).
Male victims were much less likely to report to the police
(17% in 2004), and the percentage was not much higher
than in 1999.
Figure 41
Percentage of spousal violence victims who reported to police, by sex of victim, 1993, 1999 and 2004
Percent of spousal violence victims
40
37
36
1993
35
30
1999
29
2004
25
20
17
15
15
10
5
..
0
Female victims
Male victims
.. not available for a specific reference period
Sources: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 1999, 2004; Violence Against Women Survey, 1993.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
55
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
The 2002 report Assessing Violence Against Women: A
Statistical Profile suggested that the earlier upward trend
in women’s use of criminal justice and social services
corresponded with the timing of a number of social changes
and government and community-based interventions, such
as:
• decreased stigma associated with being a victim of
spousal violence;
• increased willingness of witnesses and bystanders to
intervene in family violence incidents by telephoning the
police or other services;
• increased public awareness and reduced tolerance for
spousal assault;
• pro-charging and pro-prosecution policies among police
and prosecutors in many jurisdictions that remove from
victims the responsibility for laying charges;
• improved training of police and other criminal justice
personnel, increasing public confidence in the ability
of the criminal justice system to deal effectively with
spousal assault cases;
• increased availability of police- and court-related victim
support services to aid women whose spouses are
charged with assault situations;
• gradual improvements to the economic status of
women, giving some women increased independence
from violent spouses and consequently, alternatives to
remaining in abusive situations.
According to the 2004 GSS, the primary reasons female
victims of spousal violence report to the police were to stop
the violence and receive protection (88%). Fewer reported
because they wanted to have their partner arrested and
punished (43%).
As shown in Table 6, reporting spousal violence to the police
varies according to characteristics of victims. For accuracy
in this analysis, it is necessary to examine just those cases
that occurred with current partners in the previous year,
as some of these characteristics can change over time.
Reporting rates were higher in the previous one-year period
compared with the total over the five-year period. In current
relationships with violence, 41% of women and 20% of men
reported to the police in the preceding 12 months compared
with 22% and 9%, respectively, over five years. Reporting
was higher for younger women, those living in lower-income
households, and those with less than high school education.
Involvement of police was also more common in relatively
new relationships (three years or less), a factor which is
correlated with the age of victims. Sample counts for men
in the GSS were too small to allow for statistically reliable
estimates.
There is also a great deal of variation in the rate of reporting
to police according to incident characteristics, particularly
Table 6
Percentage of female victims of current spousal violence who reported to police in the previous year, by victim
characteristics, 2004
Female victims
percent reporting
Total reported
41
Age of victim
15 to 24
25 to 34
35 and older
50
43
36
Household income
$30,000 or less
$30,000 to $60,000
$60,000 and over
54
29
29
Education
Less than high school
High school
At least some university
55
37
39
Length of relationship
3 years or less
4 to 9 years
10 years or more
35
29
19
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2004.
56
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
indicators of seriousness of the assaults. Reporting was
higher for more serious types of violence, for victims who
had been physically injured (especially those who received
medical attention), who feared for their lives, or who were
victimized on multiple occasions. Cases involving child
witnesses were also more likely to be brought to police
attention, perhaps due to the more serious nature of these
incidents. The presence of alcohol at the time of the assault,
which is associated with physical injury, was also correlated
with police reporting. These patterns were similar for male
and female victims, but reporting rates were higher for
women in all situations (Table 7).
Criminal harassment
Overall, women reported criminal harassment to police at
a similar rate as shown for spousal assault, and at a rate
comparable to men: 38% of female victims and 35% of male
victims on the 2004 GSS reported criminal harassment to
police. Half of all women stalked by ex-partners reported
to police.
Sexual assault
The 2004 GSS suggests that only 8% of sexual assault
incidents that year were reported to police. Interviews with
sexual assault survivors have identified some of the reasons
behind women’s decisions not to disclose sexual assaults
to police, such as:
• believing that the police could not do anything to help
them;
• wanting to keep the incident private;
• feeling ashamed or embarrassed;
Visible minority women were more likely than other women
to report spousal violence to the police: 45% compared
with 35%. For immigrant women, reporting rates were
very similar to non-immigrant women (39% compared
with 37%).
Table 7
Percentage of spousal violence victims who reported to police, by incident characteristics, 2004
Female victims
Male victims
percent reporting
Total reported
37
17
Most serious assault
Threats, threw something
Pushed, shoved, slapped
Kicked, bit, hit
Beat, choked, used gun or knife, sexually assaulted
F
23
44
54
F
F
18
56
Frequency of violence
One incident
2 to 5 incidents
6 to 10 incidents
More than 10 incidents
27
34
37
57
8
17
F
47
Injured
Injured and received medical attention
Injured and no medical attention
Not injured
74
40
26
F
37
12
Feared for their lives
Yes
No
62
23
49
14
Children witnessed the violence
Yes
No
No children present
51
30
25
34
F
22
Alcohol involved
Yes
No
44
30
33
12
F too unreliable to be published
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2004.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
57
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
•
•
•
•
•
•
being reluctant to become involved with the police and
courts;
fearing that she would not be believed;
not being sure the incident was a crime;
not having sufficient proof;
fearing the perpetrator;
not wanting the perpetrator arrested or jailed (Kong et
al. 2003; Lievore 2003).
Protection orders and restraining orders
All provinces and territories have laws which permit people
to apply for restraining orders against violent spouses,
family members, or other individuals who intend harm
against another. Family violence protection orders are
also available in some jurisdictions. Restraining/protection
orders are issued by a judge or justice of the peace, either
through a criminal or civil court. Anyone who violates a
restraining/protection order can face penalties such as a
fine or imprisonment.
Restraining orders11 are intended to protect victims who
fear for their safety or the safety of someone known to them.
For example, if there is a significant risk of harassment
following a spousal separation, a restraining order can be
obtained by the estranged husband/wife, which may require
the stalker/abuser to maintain a safe distance from the
place of work or residence of the applicant and restrict any
form of communication with him/her. These orders provide
several benefits for victims of stalking/domestic violence
which include but are not limited to: sending an immediate
message that the abuser’s/stalker’s behaviour is not
acceptable; providing immediate protection for the victim;
permitting victims and their children to remain in the home
and as a result, causing less disruption on the family.
Family violence protection orders, which are available in
certain jurisdictions, can be granted by a justice of the
peace on an emergency basis in instances where the
respondent is not given notice. They are generally available
to cohabitants, family members or individuals who are
living together in a family, spousal or intimate relationship
and to persons who are parents of children, regardless of
marital status (in Manitoba such orders are also available
to persons subjected to stalking). Protection orders may
include several different remedies, such as granting of
exclusive occupation of the home to the victim; removing
the respondent from the home; issuing a no contact/no
communication order; ordering that the respondent cannot
attend at a specified place; making any other provisions
necessary to protect the victims.
Female victims of violence by former spouses in the 2004
GSS sought restraining or protection orders in 8% of cases.
Protective orders do not always protect against a recurrence
of violence. One-quarter of women with protective orders
said the order had been violated.
Protective orders were also sought by 12% of female
victims of stalking and 9% of male victims. This percentage
is higher when only ex-partner stalkers are considered:
30% of women obtained a protective order. One-half of all
protective orders against male ex-partner stalkers were
breached.
Reporting to social services
With respect to use of social services, about half (47%) of
female victims contacted a service for help in 2004. These
figures were 48% in 1999 and 37% in 1993. Men’s use of
social services remains at less than half the figure for women.
Women are at least twice as likely as men to use all types of
services (Figure 42). Among women, the most commonly
used services are counsellors (37%), crisis lines or crisis
centres (15%) and community or family centres (14%).
With respect to visible minority women and immigrant
women, they are as likely to use social services in response
to spousal violence as are other women in the population.
Women who used social services were more likely to have
reported to the police (51% compared with 24% who did not
use social services). The reverse was also true: those who
reported to police were more likely to have contacted social
services (65% compared with 34% who did not report to
police). This may be due to inter-agency referrals that exist in
many jurisdictions, where disclosure to one agency triggers
a referral to others in a coordinated community response.
Disclosure of violence to medical professionals and informal
supports such as family, friends and colleagues also raises
the likelihood of reporting to police. Similar mechanisms
may be at play where disclosure to one source of support
leads to encouragement to report to others who may be
able to offer specific services and information that friends
and family may not be able to provide.
Trends in rates of reporting to police and using social
services suggest that some early gains were made in the
provision of services for victims of spousal violence and
in encouraging women to report to police and use these
supports. However, further efforts may help ensure supports
are available and relevant to victims’ needs.12
See notes at the end of the text.
58
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Figure 42
Types of social services used by spousal violence victims
47
Total
19
37
Counsellor or psychologist
17
15
Crisis centre or crisis line
E
4
14
Community centre or family centre
3E
11
Shelter or transition home
F
8
Police or court-based victim service
F
8
Women's centre
...
...
Men's centre
Female victims
Male victims
E
3
0
5
10 15
20
25
30
35
40 45
50
55
Percent over 5 years
... not applicable
E use with caution, (coefficient of variation is high, 16.6% to 33.3%)
F too unreliable to be published
Notes: Figures do not add to 100% due to multiple responses. Differences between women and men are statistically significant.
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2004.
Women’s use of shelters
The number of women using shelters in Canada increased
during the 1990s but has levelled off in recent years (Figure
43).13 The vast majority of women (76%) were admitted
to shelters in 2003/04 for reasons of abuse. However,
the number admitted for other reasons, such as housing
problems, addictions and mental health problems, has
increased.
According to the 2003/04 Transition Home Survey, 2,496
women and 2,501 children were residing in shelters on a
single day (April 14, 2004). However, use of shelters may
more accurately reflect the availability of shelters than the
actual need for emergency housing among abused women
and their children. On the same day, 221 women and 112
children were turned away, most of them because the
shelters were full (62%) and the remainder because of drug
or alcohol problems, mental illness or other problems.14
Shelters provide services that can enable women to
establish new lives for themselves away from assaultive
spouses, and to escape dangerous, potentially lifethreatening violence. The availability of emergency shelters,
along with other services for spousal violence victims, may
thus have contributed to declines in the rate of spousal
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
homicide against women, although this one factor must
not be identified as the sole cause without consideration
of other factors (Pottie Bunge 2002).
Important factors could affect the data on the number of
women and children reported using shelters, including
changing availability over time and the changing number
of shelters that respond to the Transition Home Survey.
For example, 91% of shelters responded to the survey in
1998, 92% in 2000 and 87% in 2004. The actual response
figures vary by province and territory. Consequently, these
figures underestimate the number of women and children
admitted to shelters each year.
A conclusion that can be drawn is that between April 1, 2003
and March 31, 2004, at least 52,127 women and 36,840
children were admitted to shelters for abused women
across Canada.
Despite the national pattern of greater shelter use by
women than children, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba,
Saskatchewan, Alberta, the Northwest Territories and
Nunavut have reported a higher number of children admitted
to shelters in some years (Figure 44 and Table 8).
See notes at the end of the text.
59
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Figure 43
Annual number of women and children using shelters, Canada
Number
60,000
Women
Children
50,000
40,000
30,000
20,000
10,000
0
1992/93
1994/95
1997/98
1999/00
2001/02
2003/04
Note: Precise reporting period may vary. Shelters were asked to provide information for the 12-month period ending March 31, 2004 or their own 12-month fiscal
period. Because the number and type of shelters participating in each cycle of the Transition Home Survey may vary, comparisons of admissions from 2003/2004
to results from previous survey cycles are not advisable.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Transition Home Survey.
Figure 44
Rates of women admitted to shelters for reasons of abuse, April 14, 2004,¹ Canada, the provinces and territories
Rate per 100,000 women²
300
252
250
200
Canada (25)
150
106
87
100
50
37
18
35
26
22
24
26
30
29
28
0
N.L. P.E.I. N.S. N.B. Que. Ont. Man. Sask. Alta. B.C.
Y.T. N.W.T. Nvt.
1. On April 14, 2004, 76% of abused women in shelters were there to escape an abusive spousal relationship, including either a current or previous spouse or
common-law partner.
2. Rates are calculated per 100,000 women. Population estimates are provided by Statistics Canada, Demography Division. Populations as of July 1: preliminary
postcensal estimates for 2004.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Transition Home Survey, 2003/2004.
60
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Table 8
Annual number of women and children using shelters in the provinces and territories, by fiscal year
Newfoundland and Labrador
Women
Children
Prince Edward Island
Women
Children
Nova Scotia
Women
Children
New Brunswick
Women
Children
Quebec2
Women
Children
Ontario
Women
Children
Manitoba
Women
Children
Saskatchewan
Women
Children
Alberta
Women
Children
British Columbia
Women
Children
Yukon Territory
Women
Children
Northwest Territories3
Women
Children
Nunavut4
Women
Children
2003/2004 1
1992/1993
1994/1995
1997/1998
1999/2000
2001/2002
660
577
349
271
669
426
745
501
693
469
650
434
130
171
165
188
93
127
107
144
113
119
98
76
1,082
1,286
1,503
1,241
1,509
1,169
912
805
1,117
780
1,058
745
1,117
1,118
737
681
1,292
1,208
1,038
840
1,224
907
1,012
744
13,554
5,887
8,245
6,057
9,232
7,262
10,012
6,830
14,379
6,769
9,207
5,773
14,255
14,128
16,127
13,790
15,257
13,455
17,125
12,685
18,066
16,522
17,226
11,565
2,444
2,884
2,594
2,648
2,336
3,324
1,916
2,451
2,911
3,654
2,441
2,511
1,444
1,824
1,116
1,661
1,662
2,430
1,448
2,016
2,088
2,484
1,926
2,060
4,484
6,189
5,250
6,232
4,128
4,645
7,562
5,680
5,086
5,556
7,729
5,978
5,486
4,998
7,653
7,002
9,158
7,546
8,230
5,933
9,168
6,741
9,666
5,833
258
249
320
312
330
272
425
370
417
337
388
219
863
1,216
457
660
796
966
506
448
397
633
354
368
…
…
…
…
…
…
437
474
242
376
372
534
... not applicable
1. Precise reporting period may vary. Shelters were asked to provide information for the 12-month period ending March 31, 2004 or their own 12-month fiscal period. Because the
number and type of shelters participating in each cycle of the Transition Home Survey may vary, comparisons of admissions from 2003/04 with results from previous survey cycles
are not advisable.
2. Admissions for shelters in Quebec for 2003/2004 are not comparable with admission figures from previous cycles of the survey due to changes in the administrative counting
practices of certain shelters in that province.
3. The Northwest Territories included the territory now known as Nunavut until 1999. Data for 1999/00, 2001/2002 and 2003/2004 do not include Nunavut.
4. Prior to 1999/00, the territory now known as Nunavut was part of the Northwest Territories.
Note: As a small number of shelters do not respond to the Transition Home Survey each survey year, these figures represent an underestimate of the number of admissions.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Transition Home Survey.
In order to compare admissions to shelters among
provinces and territories, rates were calculated based on
the number of women admitted to shelters for reasons of
abuse on a single day (April 14, 2004) per 100,000 women
in the population. Rates in the provinces are similar, when
compared alongside the much higher rates in the three
territories.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Women’s use of other victim services
The Victim Services Survey indicates that 373 victim service
agencies provided services to 4,358 victims of crime on
October 22, 2003. Three-quarters (3,379r) were female and
one-quarter (979r) were male.
r
revised
61
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
A total of two-thirds were female victims of sexual assault,
or spousal assault (including stalking) (Figure 45). This
underestimates the number of female victims seeking help
as only 58% of sexual assault centres in Canada responded
to the survey. Nevertheless, this further illustrates the impact
of violence on women and the costs to society.
justice system.
The number of female victims of spousal assault who
contacted police or social services remained steady
between 1999 and 2004. The number of women accessing
shelter services has also been stable in recent years. This
does not fully represent the need for shelter services as
on a single day over 200 women were turned away from
shelters.
Women sought help from victim services in higher numbers
and for different offences than did men. Higher percentages
of women sought services for sexual assault and spousal
assault. These patterns were similar for the provinces and
territories15 (Table 9).
In addition to shelters for abused women, new data from
the Victim Services Survey indicates that among other
types of services for victims, women make up the majority
of clients seeking support. Most women are seeking help in
the aftermath of sexual assault, partner violence or stalking.
This is an added dimension of the impact of violence on
Summary of victims’ use of services
Victims’ decisions to report the violence to criminal
justice and social services depend on a variety of factors,
some of which include fear of the offender, shame and
embarrassment, and regional availability of services. The
majority of victims of spousal assault and over 90% of
sexual assault victims did not seek support from the criminal
See notes at the end of the text.
Figure 45
Use of victim services, October 22, 2003, Canada
Percent of clients
80
70
76r
Female clients (N = 3,379r)
Male clients (N = 979r)
60
50
40
40
30
20
33
27
17
7r
10
0
Sexual assault
Spousal assault
Other offences¹
Type of offence
r
revised
1. Other offences include homicide, criminal harassment and other offences such as arson, traffic offences and some non-criminal incidents.
Note: The response rate for Canada was 81% and the response rate for this question was 77%.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Victim Services Survey, 2002/2003.
62
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Table 9
Use of victim services in the provinces, October 22, 2003
Type of offence
Sexual assault
Response rate
Spousal assault
number
Newfoundland and Labrador
Female
Male
Prince Edward Island
Female
Male
Nova Scotia2
Female
Male
New Brunswick
Female
Male
Quebec
Female
Male
Ontario
Female
Male
Manitoba
Female
Male
Saskatchewan
Female
Male
Alberta
Female
Male
British Columbia
Female
Male
117
39
Other1
Province
Question
percent
7
3
50
10
44
87
92
100
21 r
0
50 r
14 r
29
86 r
100
66
154
70
11
7
55
14
34
79
100
37
124
55
35
16
16
0
48
84
81
94
340
51
66
39
23
8
11
53
59
72
1,020
198
27
17
40
8
33
75
77
80
214
26
8
15
80
8
12
77
95
75
295
123
22
16
30
1
48
83
88
83
272
151
21
11
21
1
59
87
76
72
751
253
20
18
37
6
43
76
85
81
28 r
7r
r
revised
1. Other offences include homicide, criminal harassment and other offences such as arson, traffic violations and some non-criminal incidents.
2. A large proportion of agencies in Nova Scotia were unable to provide counts of clients served on snapshot day. As as result, these figures undercount the number of clients served
by victim services in Nova Scotia that day.
Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Victim Services Survey, 2002/2003.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
63
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Aboriginal children are more likely to live in lone-parent
families headed by women.
Violence against Aboriginal women
Family violence has been identified as one of the most
important issues facing Aboriginal people in Canada
(Lane et al. 2003; LaRocque 1994). In the Report of the
Royal Commission on Aboriginal peoples (RCAP 1996), a
number of factors that are linked to violence in Aboriginal
communities were identified.These factors include systemic
discrimination against Aboriginal peoples, economic
and social deprivation, alcohol and substance abuse,
and the intergenerational cycle of violence. According
to RCAP hearings, other factors contributing to the high
levels of violence in Aboriginal communities include the
breakdown of healthy family life resulting from residential
school upbringing, racism against Aboriginal peoples, the
impact of colonialism on traditional values and culture, and
overcrowded, substandard housing.
Prevalence and severity of violence against
Aboriginal Women
Statistical methods developed by Statistics Canada for
measuring violence against women were not designed
specifically to take account of cultural differences among
minority groups, including Aboriginal women. For example,
the General Social Survey (GSS) was conducted by
telephone and only in English and French; Aboriginal women
who live in remote communities without telephones or who
do not speak English or French fluently will not be able to
participate. Aboriginal women may also face additional barriers
to disclosing violence to an interviewer that relate to cultural
differences. The GSS is therefore likely to underestimate the
true incidence of violence against Aboriginal women.
Aboriginal people in Canada have lower socio-economic
standing than non-Aboriginal people. According to the
2001 Census, the average income for Aboriginal women
was $16,600, compared with $22,100 for Aboriginal men,
$23,100 for non-Aboriginal women, and $37,300 for
non-Aboriginal men. Aboriginal people also have lower
educational attainment, higher unemployment rates, and
are more likely to live in crowded housing conditions.
Spousal violence
In the 1999 GSS, Aboriginal women reported spousal
assault at a rate that was twice as high as Aboriginal men
and three times higher than non-Aboriginal women and
men.16 In 2004, the gap between Aboriginal women and
men narrowed somewhat, but the rates for Aboriginal
See notes at the end of the text.
Figure 46
Rates of spousal violence, by Aboriginal origin, 1999 and 2004
Percent over 5 years
30
25
Aboriginal
Non-Aboriginal
24
25
20
18
13E
15
10
8
7
7
6
5
0
1999
2004
1999
Female
2004
Male
E
use with caution, (coefficient of variation is high, 16.6% to 33.3%)
Note: Includes common-law partners.
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 1999, 2004.
64
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
women remain more than three times higher than for
non-Aboriginal women or men (Figure 46). Overall, 21%
of Aboriginal people reported being victims of spousal
violence in 2004, three times higher than for non-Aboriginal
people (7%).
violence are also more severe. Aboriginal women were
more likely than their non-Aboriginal counterparts to have
suffered physical injury, received medical attention, taken
time off daily activities as a consequence of the assaults,
experienced 10 or more separate episodes of violence from
the same perpetrator, and were more likely to fear their lives
were in danger (Figure 48).
Not only did Aboriginal women report higher rates of
spousal violence in 2004, they were also significantly
more likely than non-Aboriginal women to report the most
severe and potentially life-threatening forms of violence,
including being beaten or choked, having had a gun or
knife used against them, or being sexually assaulted (54%
of Aboriginal women compared with 37% of non-Aboriginal
women) (Figure 47). These percentages for Aboriginal
women remained unchanged since 1999; however, for
non-Aboriginal women, the percentage who experienced
the most serious forms of violence declined from 43% in
1999 to 37% in 2004.
Research using the 1999 GSS has shown that part of the
explanation for higher rates of spousal violence against
Aboriginal women may be the higher occurrence of risk
factors for violence among the Aboriginal population
(Brownridge 2003). These include lower socio-economic
status, and the fact that the Aboriginal population is
younger than the general population, more likely to live in
common-law relationships, and have higher levels of alcohol
abuse. However, when controlling for these risk factors,
they account for some but not all of the difference in rates
between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women.
As a result of the more serious types of violence suffered
by Aboriginal women, the consequences of spousal
Figure 47
Seriousness of spousal assaults on women, by Aboriginal status, 1999 and 2004
Percent over 5 years
90
Aboriginal
80
Non-Aboriginal
70
63
57
60
50
54
46
54
43
46
37
40
30
20
10
0
Less severe
violence
Beaten up or worse
Less severe
violence
1999
Beaten up or worse
2004
Note: The percentage change for non-Aboriginal is statistically significant.
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 1999, 2004.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
65
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Figure 48
Consequences of spousal violence for women, by Aboriginal status, 2004
51
Were physically injured
42
19
Received medical attention
12
44
Took time off daily activities
27
Aboriginal women
27
Experienced 10+ assaults
Non-Aboriginal women
18
44
Feared for their lives
33
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
Percent
Note: Differences between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women are statistically significant.
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2004.
Figure 49
Rates of psychological abuse by spousal partners, by type of abuse and Aboriginal status, 2004
16
Damaging property
5
14E
Harming/threatening to harm
someone close
Aboriginal women
Non-Aboriginal women
3
28
Put-downs and name-calling
12
24
Checking her whereabouts
8
20
Limiting contact with others
6
27
Jealousy
9
14E
Preventing access to income
4
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
Percent over 5 years
E
use with caution (coefficient of variation is high, 16.6% to 33.3%)
Note: Differences between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women are statistically significant.
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2004.
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Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Figure 49 illustrates that one of the most important predictors
of spousal violence—emotional abuse—is more commonly
reported by Aboriginal women, which may also help explain
the higher rates among Aboriginal women.
It has been suggested that other factors that are more
difficult to measure, such as experiences of colonization,
feelings of devaluation among Aboriginal people, destruction
of traditional ways of life, and a history of abuse in residential
schools, may contribute to male Aboriginals’ use of violence
against their partners (Brownridge 2003). The experience
of physical, sexual and emotional abuse in residential
schools meant that large numbers of Aboriginal people
suffered long-lasting effects of abuse and were denied the
opportunity to be exposed to examples of positive parenting
(RCAP 1996).This may contribute to higher rates of violence
in Aboriginal communities across generations.
Criminal harassment
Aboriginal people reported rates of stalking that were twice
the level for non-Aboriginal people (17% compared with
9%). Rates were highest for Aboriginal women, almost
twice as high as for non-Aboriginal women (21% compared
with 11%).
Spousal homicide
Overall homicide rates are higher among Aboriginal people
(Figure 50). With respect to spousal homicide, the rate for
Aboriginal women was eight times the rate for non-Aboriginal
women. For Aboriginal men, the spousal homicide rate was
38 times higher than the rate for non-Aboriginal men. These
figures undercount the number of Aboriginal people who
were victims of homicide as in some cases, this information
was not known to police at the time the data were reported.
In addition, in accordance with internal policy, some police
services do not report the Aboriginal status of victims and
accused persons to the Homicide Survey.
Homicide occurs in a somewhat different context for
Aboriginal women and men compared with non-Aboriginal
people. As a percentage of all homicide victims, spouses,
parents and other family members make up a smaller
percentage of those accused of killing female Aboriginal
victims compared with their non-Aboriginal counterparts
(Table 10). Family members made up 45% of those accused
of homicide against Aboriginal women and 68% of those
accused of homicide against non-Aboriginal women.
Figure 50
Rates of spousal homicide, by sex of victim and Aboriginal status,¹ 1997 to 2000
Rate per 100,000 spouses²
5.0
4.6
4.5
3.8
4.0
3.5
3.0
2.5
2.0
1.5
1.0
0.6
0.5
0.1
0.0
Female
Male
Aboriginal victims
Female
Male
Non-Aboriginal victims
1. These data exclude those victims where police-reported Aboriginal status was unknown or not collected. In accordance with internal guidelines, some police
services (e.g.RCMP and Toronto Police Service) do not report the Aboriginal status of victims and accused persons to the Homicide Survey. This analysis excludes
32 victims whose Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal status was unknown, undisclosed or not collected between 1997 and 2000. For data prior to 1997, it is not possible to
separate ‘non-Aboriginal’ status from ‘not collected’.
2. Rates are calculated per 100,000 spouses (legally married, separated, divorced and common-law men and women 15 years of age and over) of self-identified
Aboriginal origin (North American Indian, Métis or Inuit). Population estimates were derived from 2001 post-censal estimates and 1996 Census counts, provided at
July 1st by Statistics Canada, Census and Demographic Statistics, Demography Division.
Sources: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Homicide Survey; 1996 and 2001 Census.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
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Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Table 10
Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal victims of homicide in Canada, by sex and accused-victim relationship, 1997 to 2004
Total Aboriginal victims1
Female
Total non-Aboriginal victims2
Male
Total
Female
Male
Total
number
percent
number
percent
number
percent
number
percent
number
percent
number
percent
38
12
12
15
49
15
141
27
9
9
11
35
11
100
33
14
61
4
174
43
329
10
4
19
1
53
13
100
71
26
73
19
223
58
470
15
6
16
4
47
12
100
324
98
88
61
135
48
754
43
13
12
8
18
6
100
50
109
91
20
690
284
1,244
4
9
7
2
55
23
100
374
207
179
81
825
332
1,998
19
10
9
4
41
17
100
Relationship of accused
to victim
Spouse3
Parent4
Other family5
Other intimate relationship6
Acquaintance7
Stranger
Total
1. Includes North American Indian, Métis or Inuit/Eskimo.
2. Excludes 9 solved homicides where the relationship between the accused and victim was unknown.
3. Includes married, common-law, separated, divorced and (ex) same-sex spouses.
4. Includes biological or legally adoptive parents, step-parents, and foster parents.
5. Includes children, siblings and all other family members related through blood, marriage, adoption or foster care.
6. Includes current or former boyfriends/girlfriends and extra-marital lovers.
7. Includes friends, neighbours, business relationships, casual acquaintances, etc.
Notes: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding. These data exclude those victims where police-reported Aboriginal status was unknown or not collected. In
accordance with internal guidelines, some police services (e.g. RCMP and Toronto Police Service) do not report the Aboriginal status of victims and accused persons to the
Homicide Survey. Between 1997 and 2004, Aboriginal origin was reported by police for 69% of victims (Aboriginal status was not collected or was unknown for 1,425 of the
total 4,534 victims). For data prior to 1997, it is not possible to separate “non-Aboriginal” status from “not collected”.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Homicide Survey.
Non-spousal violence
The 2004 GSS shows that Aboriginal people have higher
rates of non-spousal violence and are threatened with
violence in and around their homes to a greater extent than
non-Aboriginal people. With respect to violence involving
offenders other than spouses, Aboriginal people are twice
as likely to report that the violence occurred in and around
the victim’s home.This is partly due to the fact that Aboriginal
people are more likely to be living in rural areas, where there
are fewer other high-risk locations, such as commercial
establishments (Brzozowski et al. 2006).
Sample counts on the GSS are too low to produce
statistically reliable estimates of sexual assault against
Aboriginal women. However, police statistics comparing
crime on and off reserves show that sexual assault and
other violent crimes are more likely to occur on reserves.
Rates of violent crime were 7,108 per 100,000 population
on reserves and 953 off reserves; rates of sexual assault
and other sexual offences were 564 and 83, respectively
(Brzozowski et al. 2006).
Specialized services for Aboriginal people
Among the 473 shelters for abused women that responded
to the Transition Home Survey in 2004, 31% (148) served
populations living on reserves and 7% (31) were located on
reserves. In addition, two-thirds of shelters across Canada
68
reported that they offer some form of culturally sensitive
services to Aboriginal women. These include support
services that recognize traditional healing methods, the
use of spiritual elders and access to resource materials in
Aboriginal languages.
Among the 484 victim service agencies that responded
to the Victim Services Survey, one-quarter (121) provided
specific programs for Aboriginal people and one-quarter
were able to provide services in an Aboriginal language.
Thirty percent of all agencies operated programs designed
to address the specific forms of abuse suffered by Aboriginal
people in residential schools.
Use of services by Aboriginal women
Between April 1, 2003 and March 31, 2004, a total of 1,847
women and 1,672 children were admitted to shelters located
on reserves (Taylor-Butts 2005). Among almost 5,000
women and children residing in shelters on April 14, 2004,
173 were in shelters on reserves.
According to the 2004 GSS, Aboriginal women who were
victims of spousal violence were more likely than nonAboriginal women to report to the police and more likely to
use social services (Figure 51). This is in keeping with the
more serious nature of the violence perpetrated against
them.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Figure 51
Percentage of Aboriginal women who used social services and reported spousal violence to the police, 2004
Percent
60
50
40
55
50
46
35
30
20
10
0
Reported to police
Used social services
Aboriginal women
Non-Aboriginal women
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2004.
Summary of violence against Aboriginal
women
Rates of spousal violence are higher among Aboriginal
women than Aboriginal men or non-Aboriginal people.
Many risk factors associated with violence for Aboriginal
people have been cited, including lower educational
achievement, higher unemployment rates, alcohol abuse,
experiences of colonization, feelings of devaluation among
Aboriginal people, and a history of abuse in residential
schools. Although data on sexual assault are limited,
police statistics show that rates of sexual assault and other
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
types of violence are many times higher on reserves than
in non-reserve areas. Spousal violence experienced by
Aboriginal women is more severe, including a higher risk
of homicide.
More detailed data captured through a refinement of
research tools are needed to more fully explore and
understand the nature, prevalence, risk factors and impacts
of violence against Aboriginal women.
69
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Violence against women in the
territories
In 2004, the General Social Survey (GSS) was conducted
in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut as part of
a pilot test. For the first time, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal
women and men in the northern territories were interviewed
about their experiences of spousal violence, in addition
to other crimes. Compared to other areas in Canada,
interviewing in the territories poses unique challenges due to
incomplete telephone service for a substantial percentage of
residents and a diversity of languages spoken by residents.
The 2004 victimization data produce estimates with biases
due to under-representation of Aboriginal people in the
sample, as well as residents of rural or remote areas, and
residents whose mother tongue is not English or French. It
is unknown the extent to which those who were sampled
differ on important characteristics (such as victimization
rates) from those who were not sampled. Hence, the results
presented here should be used with caution.
Prevalence and severity of violence against
women in the territories
Spousal violence
Overall, 12% of adult residents of the northern territories
who had ever been married or lived in a common-law
relationship had experienced violence by a spousal partner
in the five years prior to the 2004 GSS. Although rates
were higher in the territories (12% compared with 7% in
the provinces), patterns were similar to those shown for
residents of the provinces: rates of spousal violence were
comparable for women and men, but higher for Aboriginal
people (Figure 52).
Sexual assault
The sample used in the GSS is not sufficiently large to
produce statistically reliable estimates of sexual assault.
However, police data are available and these consistently
show much higher rates of violent crime in the northern
territories than in the provinces. As shown in Figure 53, rates
of sexual offences recorded by the police in 2004 were 2 to
3 times higher in the Yukon than in any of the provinces, 3
to 6 times higher in the Northwest Territories, and between
7 and 14 times higher in Nunavut. Figure 54 illustrates that
rates of sexual offences fluctuate annually but appear to
have declined in recent years in all three territories.
Homicide and spousal homicide
Homicide rates in the territories are also the highest in the
country. Over the 30-year period between 1975 and 2004,
homicide rates in the Yukon were 5.0 per 100,000 women
and 12.1 per 100,000 men. The comparable figures for
the Northwest Territories and Nunavut were 7.4 for women
and 13.6 for men (Figure 55). As shown earlier (Figure 11),
spousal homicide rates in the territories were also much
higher than the Canadian average (1.0 for women and
Figure 52
Rates of spousal assault in the territories, 2004
Percent over 5 years
35
30
25
19
20
15
13
12
10
8
5
0
Female
Male
Aboriginal
Non-Aboriginal
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2004.
70
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Figure 53
Rates of sexual offences¹ per 100,000 population in Canada, the provinces and territories, 2004
2
Rate per 100,000 population
1,200
982
1,000
800
600
444
Canada (82)
400
240
200
99
136
95
98
72
69
N.L. P.E.I. N.S.
N.B.
Que.
Ont.
77
141
82
89
0
Man. Sask. Alta.
B.C.
Y.T. N.W.T. Nvt.
1. Sexual offences include sexual assault (levels 1, 2 and 3) as well as other sexual violations.
2. Rates are calculated per 100,000 population. Population estimates provided at July 1st by Statistics Canada, Census and Demography Statistics, Demography
Division. Demographic and crime statistics for Nunavut specifically are only available from 1999 on. Prior to 1999, Nunavut was included within the Northwest
Territories.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.
Figure 54
Rates of sexual offences¹ in the territories, 1983 to 2004
Rate per 100,000 population²
1,200
1,000
800
600
400
200
0
1983
1986
1989
1992
1995
1998
2001
2004
Yukon
Northwest Territories (including Nunavut)
Northwest Territories
Nunavut
1. Sexual offences include sexual assault (levels 1, 2 and 3) as well as other sexual violations.
2. Rates are calculated per 100,000 population. Population estimates provided at July 1st by Statistics Canada, Census and Demography Statistics, Demography
Division. Demographic and crime statistics for Nunavut specifically are only available from 1999 on. Prior to 1999, Nunavut was included within the Northwest
Territories.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
71
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
0.3 for men). Similar to the rates in other jurisdictions,
spousal homicide rates were higher for women than for men.
When calculated as a rate per 100,000 couples, rates in
the Yukon were 4.4 for women and 2.4 for men and rates in
the Northwest Territories and Nunavut were 7.3 for women
and 3.6 for men.
It should be noted that although homicide rates in the
territories are high relative to the provinces, the average
number of homicide victims in the territories used to
calculate overall rates is small. For instance, between 1975
and 2004, there was an average of less than one homicide
each year in the combined territories (see Table 2).
Comparing the territories and provinces on the victimoffender relationship in homicides, Table 11 shows that
lethal violence occurs in similar contexts. That is, males
outnumber females among homicide victims and are
more likely to be killed by acquaintances and strangers.
Women are more likely to be killed by spouses and other
intimates.
Spousal homicides in the territories also show an agerelated pattern similar to spousal homicides in the provinces
with higher rates among younger people (Figure 56).
The youngest women have the highest rates of spousal
homicide; however, for this age group, rates are more similar
for women and men in the northern territories than they are
in Canada as a whole (see Figure 23).
Research has not explored in detail the possible factors
behind the higher rates of violence reported in the territories.
However, the differing demographic profiles of territorial
dwellers compared to their provincial counterparts may offer
a partial explanation. For instance, according to the 2001
Census, residents of the territories are younger on average
and slightly more likely to be male. Higher percentages
are Aboriginal, single and have less than a high school
education. According to the 2004 GSS, rates of heavy
drinking by marital partners are somewhat higher in the
territories. These are all identified risk factors for crime and
victimization. Levels of emotional abuse, which are risk
factors for spousal violence, are similar for residents of the
territories and the provinces.
Reporting to the police
The northern territories have the highest concentration of
police per capita in Canada. This is due to the requirement
to police very large sparsely populated areas. The number
of police officers per 100,000 population is approximately
400 in the three territories and 200 or less in each of the
provinces (Sauvé and Reitano 2005). Perhaps in part as a
consequence of the police presence, or in the absence of
other options such as shelters and other victim services,
Figure 55
Homicide rates in the territories, by sex of victim, all ages, 1975 to 2004
Rate per 100,000 population¹
15
13.6
12.1
Female victims
Male victims
12
9
7.4
6
5.0
3
0
Northwest Territories / Nunavut
Yukon Territory
1. Rates are calculated per 100,000 population. Population estimates provided at July 1st by Statistics Canada, Census and Demographic Statistics,
Demography Division. Demographic and homicide statistics for Nunavut specifically are only available from 1999 on. Since this analysis looks at
trends over a 30-year period, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories have been aggregated.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Homicide Survey.
72
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Table 11
Victims of homicide in the territories and provinces, by accused-victim relationship, 1975 to 20041
Territories
Female
Provinces
Male
Total
Female
Male
Total
number
percent
number
percent
number
percent
number
percent
number
percent
number
percent
35
7
9
6
17
4
78
45
9
12
8
22
5
100
18
4
36
1
85
18
162
11
2
22
1
52
11
100
53
11
45
7
102
22
240
22
5
19
3
43
9
100
2,143
577
536
336
1,330
533
5,455
39
11
10
6
24
10
100
620
683
1,084
203
5,328
1,855
9,773
6
7
11
2
55
19
100
2,763
1,260
1,620
539
6,658
2,388
15,228
18
8
11
4
44
16
100
Relationship of accused
to victim
Spouse2
Parent3
Other family4
Other intimate relationship5
Acquaintance6
Stranger
Total
1. Excludes solved homicides in which the accused-victim relationship and/or victim’s gender was unknown.
2. Includes married, common-law, separated, divorced and (ex) same-sex spouses.
3. Includes biological or legally adoptive parents, step-parents, and foster parents.
4. Includes children, siblings and all other family members related through blood, marriage, adoption or foster care.
5. Includes current or former boyfriends/girlfriends and extra-marital lovers.
6. Includes friends, neighbours, business relationships, casual acquaintances, etc.
Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Homicide Survey.
Figure 56
Spousal homicide rates in the territories,¹ by age group and sex of victim, 1975 to 2004
Rate per 100,000 spouses²
14
12.6
Female victims
Male victims
11.9
12
10
8
5.5
6
5.1
3.6
4
3.1
2.4
1.9
2
0
15 to 24
25 to 34
35 to 44
45 and over
Age group
1. Includes the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
2. Rates are calculated per 100,000 spouses (legally married, separated, divorced and common-law men and women 15 years of age and over). Population
estimates provided at July 1st by Statistics Canada, Census and Demographic Statistics, Demography Division.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Homicide Survey.
spousal violence victims in the territories reported to the
police at a higher rate than victims in the provinces: 37%
compared with 28%. Sample counts in the territories
were too small to make statistically reliable estimates of
reporting rates for female victims or for Aboriginal people
separately.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
The greater likelihood of victims reporting crimes to the
police in the territories help to explain the higher rates of
crime recorded by police in these jurisdictions compared
with the provinces. But it cannot explain the higher rates
of homicide, almost all of which are reported to police
in all jurisdictions. Other factors, yet to be explored, are
contributing to the elevated rates of spousal violence, sexual
assault and other crime in the northern territories.
73
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Victim services in the territories
•
Providing services to victims of violence is also a challenge
in very large, sparsely populated jurisdictions like the
Canadian North. According to the Victim Services Survey,
there were three services for victims of crime in the Yukon,
six in the Northwest Territories and two in Nunavut to assist
the widespread populations of these jurisdictions.
When calculated as a rate per 100,000 population, shelter
use on a single day (April 14, 2004) was more than three
times higher in the Northwest Territories compared with
the national average, four times higher in the Yukon and
ten times higher in Nunavut (see Figure 44).
Women’s use of services in the territories
534 women and 372 children were admitted to shelters
in Nunavut.
Women using other types of victim services in the territories
were primarily seeking services related to sexual assault,
spousal violence and homicide while men were seeking
services exclusively for other types of crimes (Figure 57
and Figure 58).
Victims’ use of services depends in large measure on
awareness and availability of services in the local area, the
cultural and linguistic appropriateness of these services,
distance to travel, and the availability of transportation.
According to the GSS, smaller percentages of spousal violence
victims used social services in the territories compared with
the provinces: 21% of residents of territories and 34% in the
provinces. Sample counts used in the territories are too low
to permit detailed analysis of disclosures of violence by sex
of victims or Aboriginal status.
Summary of violence against women in the
territories
Women in the territories report similar patterns of spousal
violence but higher rates than do women in the provinces.
Police statistics indicate that women in the territories also
experience higher levels of sexual assault and homicide.
They are more likely to report spousal violence to the
police, but less likely to use social services in response to
a violent act. Yet shelter use in the territories is the highest
in the country. Governments face important challenges in
providing criminal justice and social services to the large,
sparsely populated geographic areas that make up the
Canadian North.
In 2003/04, relatively large numbers of women in the
territories were admitted to shelters for abused women.
At least:
• 388 women and 219 children used shelters for abused
women in the Yukon;
• 354 women and 368 children were admitted to shelters
in the Northwest Territories;
Figure 57
Use of victim services, October 22, 2003, Yukon Territory
Percent of clients
110
100
Female clients
Male clients
90
100
88
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
8
0
0
4
0
Sexual assault
Spousal assault
Other offences¹
Type of offence
1. Other offences include homicide, criminal harassment and others such as arson, traffic offences and some non-criminal incidents.
Note: The response rate for Yukon Territory was 100% and the response rate for this question was 100% (N = 28).
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Vicitim Services Survey, 2002/2003.
74
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Figure 58
Use of victim services, October 22, 2003, Northwest Territories
Percent of clients
110
100
100
Female client
Male clients
90
80
70
60
51
46
50
40
30
20
10
3
0
0
0
Sexual assault
Spousal assault
Other offences¹
Type of offence
1. Other offences include homicide, criminal harassment and other offences such as arson, traffic offences and some non-criminal incidents.
Note: The response rate for the Northwest Territories was 83% and the response rate for this question was 100% (N = 40).
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Vicitim Services Survey, 2002/2003.
There are also special challenges to statistical data gathering
in the territories due to widespread populations, incomplete
telephone service and linguistic and cultural diversity. An
expansion of research methodologies targeted specifically
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
to the situation of women in the territories is needed to
provide the data necessary for a fuller understanding of all
aspects of violence against women in the North.
75
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Conclusion
Violence against women affects all of Canadian society. It
occurs in public, family and intimate contexts and can be
experienced by women at any stage of their lives. Violence
against women is a complex matter that is linked to women’s
equality in society. Ethnicity, culture, age, relationship type
and economic status can all affect the rate and impact of
violence against women.
The statistical indicators in this document provide a
partial portrait of women’s experiences of violence. Since
the release of the 2002 indicators report, important
advancements have been made in the availability of data
on Aboriginal women and women in the northern territories,
criminal harassment, sentencing outcomes, the availability of
victim services, and victims’ use of these services. However,
gaps remain in the data required to paint a complete picture
of the nature, extent and impacts of violence against women.
More detailed data are needed for:
• diverse groups of women in the population, such as
visible minority, immigrant, Aboriginal, Northern and
homeless women;
• sexual assault victimization;
• perpetrators of violence;
• attitudes and perceptions of violence among
Canadians;
• the economic costs of violence;
• other forms of violence, such as trafficking of persons.
This set of statistical indicators addresses the major areas of
concern on violence against women, including severity and
prevalence, impact, risk factors, institutional and communitybased responses, and victims’ use of services.
In terms of severity and prevalence, these data indicate
that women are more likely than men to be victims of the
most severe forms of spousal assault, as well as spousal
homicide, sexual assault and criminal harassment.
Following evidence of a decline in the incidence of spousal
assault against women in the 1990s, the most recent
surveys suggest no change since 1999. The past decade
has witnessed a general decline in the number of spousal
homicides. This downward shift may be partly attributed to
institutional and community-based responses, a diminished
tolerance for violence against women, and improvements
in women’s socio-economic status.
76
Additional data are needed to answer the questions of
whether violence against women has decreased for all
sub-groups of the population, and whether intervention
efforts have made a difference.
Governments and communities have responded to violence
by providing shelters, treatment programs for abusers,
specialized domestic violence courts and other victim
services. Victimization surveys suggest that there has been
a rise in the percentage of spousal assaults reported to the
police since 1993, although this stabilized between 1999
and 2004. A similar pattern was shown for seeking help
from other services. Data from victim services indicate that
two-thirds of clients they serve are female victims of sexual
assault, partner violence or stalking. These are an indication
not only of the impact of violence on individuals, but of the
direct and indirect costs to society.
The risk factors identify young women as particularly
vulnerable to criminal harassment, sexual assault and
spousal homicide. One of the most important risk factors of
physical or sexual violence against women in relationships
is the presence of emotional abuse. This type of abuse,
including jealous and controlling behaviour, the use of
verbal bullying, and financial abuse, provides a significantly
stronger predictor of violent behaviour towards women in
relationships than does alcohol use, income or education.
Women living in common-law unions are at higher risk
of assault and homicide by their partners than married
women. Separation can also increase the risk of violence
and potentially trigger homicide for women in violent
relationships.
Ultimately, the impact of violence against women is felt by
everyone, either directly or indirectly. Ongoing collection and
analysis of reliable statistical data is important for monitoring
the prevalence, risk factors, and intergenerational impacts
of violence. Data such as these indicators are intended
as a useful tool for all levels of government as well as
non-governmental groups for tracking change over time,
highlighting new and emerging issues, and developing
legislative, policy and program responses to help prevent
violence and assist victims.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Methodology
Analysis in this document focuses on acts of violence
against women that have been quantified using statistical
survey techniques. This provides indicators on many
aspects of violence against women, services provided to
victims, and women’s use of services. The analysis focuses
on behaviours that could trigger a criminal justice response
and addresses acts of violence against women that qualify
as offences under the Criminal Code almost exclusively.The
primary statistical data sources used to measure violence
against women by Statistics Canada are victimization
surveys, and data collected by police agencies, adult courts,
emergency shelters for women and their children, and other
service agencies providing assistance to crime victims.
1 Victimization surveys
In 1993, Health Canada commissioned Statistics Canada
to conduct a large-scale survey dedicated to women’s
experiences of violence perpetrated against them by
male aggressors. The Violence Against Women Survey
(VAWS) involved telephone interviews with a random
sample of 12,300 women about their adult experiences
of sexual and physical assault by men, including male
partners, friends, acquaintances or strangers. The survey
also included questions related to non-criminal forms of
sexual harassment and to women’s fears of violence in
public places.
Although the VAWS has not been repeated, some of the
same or similar questions concerning spousal violence
were included on the victimization cycle of the General
Social Survey (GSS). A total of 14,269 women and
11,607 men were interviewed in the 1999 GSS. The GSS
victimization survey was designed to be repeated every
five years, thereby providing a reliable standard to measure
experiences of violence over time. A third time point is
provided by the 2004 GSS, in which 13,162 women and
10,604 men were interviewed. In 2004, respondents in the
territories were also interviewed.
The GSS interviewed random samples of individuals 15
years of age and older about their experiences with crime
in the previous year and their opinions concerning the
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
justice system. Households were selected using randomdigit dialling techniques. Once a household was chosen, an
individual 15 years of age or older was randomly selected
to respond to the survey. Households were excluded
from the survey when they had no telephone or when the
chosen respondent could not speak English or French. Also
excluded were individuals living in institutions.
The methodologies of the 1993 VAWS and the 1999 GSS
differ in important ways. As the VAWS was a dedicated
survey, it focused exclusively on matters relating to violence
against women and employed only female interviewers.
The 1999 and 2004 GSS, on the other hand, are general
victimization surveys with a special module of questions
related to spousal violence that is based on the VAWS.
The GSS employs both male and female interviewers,
although respondents are offered the opportunity to switch
to an interviewer of the other sex if they are uncomfortable
responding to sensitive questions during the interview. As
a result of these methodological differences, comparisons
between the two surveys must be made with caution.
Although improvements have been made in the methodology
for interviewing women about violence, victimization
surveys still have limitations. The fact that surveys are
conducted only in Canada’s two official languages presents
a significant barrier for the full inclusion of Aboriginal and
immigrant women in Canadian statistics. According to the
2001 Census, 2.6 million women in Canada were not fluent
in either English or French. In many northern communities in
Canada, especially those in the territories, older Aboriginal
women have maintained their culture and language and
many would not be able to participate in a telephone survey.
Because interviewers did not use Aboriginal and Inuit
languages, many Northern women were excluded.
The methodology of victimization surveys also does not
allow for the inclusion of households without telephones or
households with cellular telephones only. While telephone
surveys are significantly better at generating responses than
a standard mail or e-mail survey, this method automatically
excludes households without telephones. These represent
a small percentage of all households—about 4%—but
77
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Number of women and men interviewed for the 1993 Violence Against Women Survey (VAWS) and the 1999 and 2004
General Social Survey (GSS) on Victimization
1993 VAWS
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island
Nova Scotia
New Brunswick
Quebec
Ontario
Manitoba
Saskatchewan
Alberta
British Columbia
Total
Territories
1999 GSS
2004 GSS
Women
Women
Men
Women
Men
705
322
1,012
826
1,912
2,502
900
869
1,503
1,749
12,300
...
1,045
274
666
650
2,601
4,245
664
649
1,478
1,997
14,269
...
784
185
537
537
2,030
3,472
537
542
1,298
1,685
11,607
...
642
317
777
783
2,504
3,757
1,139
738
1,185
1,320
13,162
677
469
240
566
552
2,142
3,053
864
630
1,001
1,087
10,604
613
... not applicable
excluding those without telephone access may underrepresent certain groups in the population, such as
lower income groups, northern people living in traditional
communities, rural people, or women living in shelters
or on the street as a direct result of violent victimization.
Excluding those with only cell phones may underestimate
young, single adults and transient populations.
In addition, although the sample sizes used in these surveys
are relatively large, analysis of smaller groups is not always
possible. Without disaggregated information the indicators
cannot show in detail the unique experiences of Aboriginal
women, immigrant and refugee women, visible minority
women, women with disabilities, teenaged and younger
girls, older women, women living in low income situations,
women in rural and remote communities, and lesbian and
bisexual women.
How violence is measured using victimization
surveys
Violence by a spouse or common-law partner is measured
in the General Social Survey on Victimization (GSS)
and the Violence Against Women Survey (VAWS) by a
module of 10 questions. This approach consists of asking
respondents about specific actions instead of simply asking
about “violence” or “assaults”, in order to minimize differing
interpretations of what constitutes violent behaviour. The
module of questions with introductory statement follows:
It is important to hear from people themselves if we are to
understand the serious problem of violence in the home.
I’m going to ask you 10 short questions and I’d like you to
tell me whether, in the past five years, your spouse/partner
78
has done any of the following to you. Your responses
are important whether or not you have had any of these
experiences. Remember that all information provided is
strictly confidential.
During the past five years, has your partner:
1. threatened you with his/her fist or anything else that
could have hurt you?
2. thrown anything at you that could have hurt you?
3. pushed, grabbed or shoved you in a way that could have
hurt you?
4. slapped you?
5. kicked, bitten, or hit you with his/her fist?
6. hit you with something that could have hurt you?
7. beaten you?
8. choked you?
9. used or threatened to use a gun or knife on you?
10. forced you into any unwanted sexual activity by
threatening you, holding you down, or hurting you in
some way?
In the VAWS, these 10 questions were asked in order. In
the GSS, the first two questions were given in sequence
to all respondents and the remaining eight questions were
asked in random order.
How criminal harassment is measured
The series of questions designed to measure the prevalence
of criminal harassment or stalking conforms to the Criminal
Code definition and includes:
In the past five years, have you been the subject of repeated
and unwanted attention that caused you to fear for your
safety or the safety of someone known to you? By that I
mean has anyone:
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
1. phoned you repeatedly or made silent or obscene phone
calls?
2. followed you or spied on you?
3. waited outside your home?
4. waited outside your place of work or school or other
places you were, when they had no business being
there?
5. sent you unwanted e-mail messages?
6. sent you unwanted gifts, letters or cards?
7. persistently asked you for a date and refused to take
no for an answer?
8. tried to communicate with you against your will in any
other way?
representative. The largest percentage of cases originates
in Ontario and Quebec.
If the respondent stated that they had experienced at least
one of these acts they were then asked, “Did you fear for
your safety or the safety of someone known to you?” If the
respondent stated “yes”, they then were considered to be
a stalking victim.
The Homicide Survey has provided detailed police-reported
data on homicide incidents since 1974. When police
become aware of a homicide, a survey questionnaire is
completed. The count for a particular year represents all
homicides reported in that year, regardless of when the
death actually occurred. The survey remained unchanged
until 1991, at which time more detailed information was
collected. A question regarding the history of domestic
violence between the accused and victim, and more
detailed victim-offender relationship categories were added
to the survey in 1991.
In addition to these questions, respondents were asked two
additional questions that did not require them to state that
they felt fear because threats were explicit in the questions.
Respondents who responded yes to either of these
questions were also considered to be victims of stalking.
9. In the past five years, has anyone attempted to intimidate
or threaten you by threatening or intimidating someone
else?
10. In the past five years, has anyone attempted to intimidate
or threaten you by hurting your pet(s) or damaging your
property?
2 Police statistics
Uniform Crime Reporting Survey
The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, a division of
Statistics Canada, developed the Uniform Crime Reporting
Survey (UCR) with the co-operation and assistance of the
Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. The aggregate
UCR Survey, which became operational in 1962, collects
crime and traffic statistics reported by all police agencies
in Canada. UCR survey data reflect reported crimes that
have been substantiated (or founded) through police
investigation.
More detailed incident-based crime statistics are collected
through the Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey
(UCR2 Survey). This survey allows detailed examination of
accused and victim characteristics, as well as characteristics
of the incident itself. Collection began in 1988. By 2004, 166
police agencies in nine provinces, representing 53% of the
national volume of reported crime, were responding to the
UCR2 Survey. The sample of police forces is not nationally
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
The UCR2 Trend Database contains historical data,
which permits the analysis of trends in the characteristics
of incidents, accused and victims, such as weapon use
and victim/accused relationship. This database currently
includes 68 police services that have reported to the UCR2
Survey consistently since 1998. These accounted for 37%
of the national volume of crime in 2004.
Homicide Survey
3 Adult Criminal Court Survey
The Adult Criminal Court Survey (ACCS) provides a
database of statistical information on the processing of
cases through the adult criminal court system. The survey
consists of a census of Criminal Code and other federal
statute charges dealt with in adult criminal courts. The
ACCS represents approximately 90% of the national adult
criminal court caseload. Manitoba is not included in the
survey for any year. Data from Nunavut were included
as part of the Northwest Territories prior to April 1, 1999;
however, Nunavut has not reported to the ACCS since the
creation of the territory. Data from the Northwest Territories
are not available for 1996/97, 2000/01, 2001/02, 2002/03,
or 2003/04. New Brunswick and British Columbia began
reporting to the ACCS in 2001/02. Also, information from
Quebec’s municipal courts (which account for approximately
one-quarter of Criminal Code charges in that province) is not
yet collected. With the exception of Prince Edward Island,
Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Alberta, British Columbia and
Yukon, no data are provided from superior courts.
The absence of data from all but six superior court
jurisdictions may result in a slight underestimation of the
severity of sentences imposed across Canada. The reason
for this is that some of the most serious cases, which are
likely to result in the most severe sanctions, are processed
in superior courts.
79
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
4 UCR2-ACCS linked database
A pilot study linked data from the UCR2 Survey for the
years 1997 through 2001 to cases with convictions for
violent crimes from the ACCS for the years 1997/98 through
2001/02. The UCR2 variables that were linked to the court
files include: relationship of victim to accused; sex of victim;
age of victim; level of injury; and presence and type of
weapon. The objective of this study was to examine court
outcomes of spousal violence cases. As these variables
are in the UCR2 but not the ACCS, analysis was made
possible through this linkage process.
Coverage for the UCR2 and ACCS databases includes
18 urban areas in four provinces for the study period
1997/98 to 2001/02 (Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario,
Saskatchewan and Alberta). The 18 urban areas that are
included in the pilot project are:
St. John’s
Stratford
Ottawa
Edmonton
Prince Albert
Windsor
London
Toronto
Calgary
Lethbridge
Waterloo
Thunder Bay
Guelph
Regina
Kingston
Brantford
Niagara
Saskatoon
Because the study focuses on selected urban areas, it is
not a representative sample, but rather a location-specific
analysis of sentencing patterns. Data from these urban
areas are rolled up to produce a total for all areas.
5 Transition Home Survey
The Transition Home Survey was developed under
the federal government’s Family Violence Initiative in
consultation with provincial and territorial governments
and transition home associations. The objectives of the
survey are to collect information on residential services for
abused women and their children during the previous 12
months of operation, and to provide a one-day snapshot
of the clients being served on a specific day. In 1991/92,
80
Statistics Canada began to collect basic information on
transition home services and clientele. The survey was
repeated with some changes in 1992/93, 1994/95, 1997/98,
1999/00, 2001/02 and 2003/04.
The Transition Home Survey is a mail-out/mail-back census
survey of all residential facilities providing services to
abused women and their children. In 2003/04, of the 543
residential facilities providing services to abused women
and their children, 473 returned their questionnaires for
a response rate of 87%. Separate questionnaires were
completed for facilities that had two or more residences
under the same name or address.
6 Victim Services Survey
The Victim Services Survey was funded by Justice
Canada’s Policy Centre for Victim Issues. The objectives are
to provide a profile of victim service agencies, information
on the types of services offered, and some insight into the
clients who use them through a snapshot of clients serviced
on October 22, 2003.
Victim services are defined as agencies that provide direct
services to primary or secondary victims of crime and are
funded in whole or in part by a ministry responsible for
justice matters. The survey covers system-based, policebased, court-based and community-based agencies, sexual
assault centres, criminal injuries compensation programs
and other financial benefit programs. Corrections-based
victim services are not included.
The Victim Services Survey is a mail-out/mail-back
questionnaire and is intended to be a census of all victim
service agencies that fall within its scope. Of the 606
agencies eligible to respond, 492 responses were received
representing 81% of agencies. This survey will be repeated
in 2005/06.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Endnotes
1. Provincial variations in the changing severity of spousal
assault against women cannot be assessed as sample
sizes in some provinces were too small to produce
reliable estimates.
2. In order to make comparisons among geographic
regions with different population sizes, it is necessary
to standardize rates to a common unit. Rates of spousal
homicide are presented as the number per 100,000
couples because of the small number of homicides in
most jurisdictions.
3. A one-year snapshot is used to assess risk factors for
violence, since many of these factors can change over
time.
4. In Figure 24 “sexual offences” include sexual assaults
and other types of sexual offences related to child
victims.
5. In Figure 25, separated women in the Homicide Survey
include separations from married or common-law
partners. Rates cannot be calculated as these data are
not available from the Census.
6. Visible minority status was defined as persons, other
than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race
or non-white in colour. The visible minority population
includes those reporting themselves as Chinese, South
Asian, Black, Arab/West Asian, Filipino, Southeast
Asian, Latin American, Japanese, Korean and Pacific
Islander.
7. Shelter facilities are funded by a variety of sources,
including federal and provincial governments. Provincial
data on numbers of shelters are not presented since
definitions used by Statistics Canada are broader than
those typically used by provincial governments. The
definition used by Statistics Canada includes shelters
on reserves, those funded by federal and municipal
governments, and those privately operated.
8. The Victim Services Survey is intended to be a census
of system-based, police-based and court-based
victim services, sexual assault centres and financial
compensation programs for victims of crime. As the
range of community-based services is very broad, the
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
survey includes only those that receive funding from
provincial and territorial ministries responsible for justice
matters.
9. This sentencing study used data from 18 urban areas and
is therefore not representative of all jurisdictions. See the
Methodology section for details about the methodology
used in this study.
10. Manitoba, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut do not
participate in the Adult Criminal Court Survey (see the
Methodology section).
11. Final Report of the Ad Hoc Federal/Provincial/Territorial
Working Group Reviewing Spousal Abuse Policies and
Legislation.
12. Victims’ use of services will be affected in part by the
availability of appropriate services for victims of violence,
which in turn is affected by funding made available through
governments and communities. Isolation in remote
communities will also affect the extent to which victims
of violence are able to access services.
13. Women who are admitted to a shelter more than once
during the year will be counted more than once. Nearly
one-third of women in shelters on April 14, 2004 had
resided at that same shelter sometime in the past,
almost half more than once in the previous year.
14. Some women and children may be turned away from more
than one shelter on a single day, or may be counted as
turned away at one shelter while being admitted to another
on the same day.
15. Response rates varied among provinces and territories,
from 100% of victim service agencies responding in
Prince Edward Island and the Yukon to just 59% in
Quebec.
16. This report uses the Aboriginal identity concept as the
definition for the Aboriginal population. A total of 976,305
people identified with one or more Aboriginal groups
(North American Indian, Métis or Inuit) in the 2001
Census. Assumptions about the Aboriginal identity of
perpetrators of spousal violence should not be made
based on the identity of victims.
81
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
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Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Appendix 1
Economic equality indicators
The ability of women to leave violent relationships or
situations where they are exposed to violence is related in
part to their economic autonomy. For example, a woman
in a violent relationship who is unable to afford housing on
her income alone may be more inclined to remain with an
abusive partner. While there are no recent national data on
women’s homelessness, in Toronto between 1988 and 1996
the percentage of single-parent families (most headed by
women) using the emergency hostel system increased from
24% to 37%. They entered the hostel system at twice the
rate of two-parent families (Golden et al. 1999). The number
of shelters that provided this type of service increased
during this same time period.
Indeed, economic inequality, which is higher for some
groups of women, presents a barrier to ending violence
against women. In 2003, the average earned income for
Canadian women was about $24,800, compared with
$39,100 for men. Overall that year, the average income
for employed women was about 64% that for men. Just
as vulnerability to violence may be a result of a woman’s
economic situation, for many, exposure to violence in
previous relationships places them in situations of economic
hardship. Studies indicate that 68% of all single mothers
reported experiencing violence in previous marriages or
common-law unions (Violence Against Women Survey
1993). Moreover, lone-parent families headed by women
have by far the lowest incomes of all family types. In 2003,
38% of all families headed by lone-parent mothers had
incomes that fell below the low income cut-off (LICO). In
comparison, just 7% of non-elderly two-parent families with
children, and 13% of male lone-parent families had low
incomes that year (Statistics Canada 2006).
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
A large percentage of Aboriginal women have low incomes.
In 2000, for example, 36% of Aboriginal women aged 15
and over had incomes below the LICO, compared with
32% of Aboriginal men and 17% of non-Aboriginal women.
Moreover, in that same year, 73% of Aboriginal women
who were lone parents lived below the LICO (Statistics
Canada 2006).
Immigrant women, particularly recent immigrants, tend
to have low incomes despite their usually higher levels
of education than Canadian-born women. In 2000, the
average income of immigrant women aged 15 and over
was just 64% of that of their male counterparts. Close to
one in five women living in Canada described themselves
as an immigrant in 2001, some 2.6 million or 18% of the
total female population.
A similar pattern exists for visible minority women, who
have higher rates of completed university education than
other women. However, in 2000, the average total incomes
for visible minority women aged 15 years and over was
$20,000, more than $3,000 less than the figure for nonvisible minority women in Canada ($23,300). In 2001, about
one in ten women in Canada identified themselves as
members of a visible minority community, some 1.6 million
or 11% of the total female population (Statistics Canada
2006).
The following table (Table A1.1) provides an indication of the
average income of men and women in Canada from 1991
to 2003. Table A1.2 also indicates the percentage of women
in justice-related occupations from 1991 to 2001.
85
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Table A1.1
Income and earnings trends
1991
1993
1995
1997
1999
2001
2003
64,800
67,500
64,000
72,400
27,300
46,700
49,300
26,700
25,600
30,600
21,500
24,400
63,300
66,000
64,200
71,100
27,300
41,400
48,300
26,900
26,700
30,900
20,100
24,500
64,300
66,900
63,500
72,200
29,000
42,200
50,400
27,100
26,100
30,500
21,900
27,100
66,000
69,100
69,300
74,700
27,500
45,900
46,600
26,400
23,700
29,300
23,400
28,300
69,900
73,300
69,600
80,100
31,000
49,700
49,100
28,800
28,100
32,000
23,000
28,100
73,600
77,500
74,900
84,300
34,900
51,000
49,600
29,600
27,200
33,700
24,500
28,600
72,700
76,400
70,900
85,600
32,500
54,700
50,200
30,900
30,100
34,400
24,800
29,600
Women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s
Full-year full-time workers
68.7
71.3
72.4
68.3
68.4
69.9
70.5
Percentage of families with low income5
Economic families
Non-elderly families
Couples without children
Two-parent families with children
Female-headed lone-parent families
Male-headed lone-parent families
Elderly families
Unattached individuals
Non-elderly women
Non-elderly men
Elderly women
Elderly men
13.7
14.6
10.5
11.4
60.9
24.9
8.4
44.1
45.1
37.4
56.0
43.5
15.7
16.6
11.2
13.2
60.2
32.6
10.2
45.3
45.9
39.2
57.8
41.3
15.4
16.7
12.1
13.8
59.2
33.2
8.2
43.6
45.7
40.5
51.3
29.8
15.9
16.7
10.6
13.5
58.9
26.0
11.4
46.7
52.7
42.9
50.1
33.7
13.2
14.2
10.6
11.2
51.4
22.2
7.4
42.9
48.3
39.2
46.0
33.7
11.6
12.4
8.8
10.4
45.0
21.0
6.6
39.1
46.5
34.0
41.2
31.6
12.0
12.9
9.2
9.8
48.9
20.0
6.7
38.0
42.8
34.4
40.9
31.6
Average total income (2003 dollars)
Economic families1
Non-elderly families2
Couples without children
Two-parent families with children
Female-headed lone-parent families3
Male-headed lone-parent families3
Elderly families4
Unattached individuals
Non-elderly women
Non-elderly men
Elderly women
Elderly men
1. Individuals (two or more people) sharing a common dwelling unit who are related by blood, marriage (including common-law relationships) or adoption.
2. Families in which the major income earner is under 65 years of age.
3 With children under 18 years of age.
4. Families in which the major income earner is 65 years of age and over.
5. Based on Statistics Canada’s low income cut-offs before taxes (1992 base).
Note: Average total income refers to income from all sources including government transfers and before deduction of federal and provincial income taxes. It may also be called
income before tax (but after transfers).
Source: Statistics Canada, CANSIM, table 202-0403 and Catalogue no. 75-202-XIE.
Table A1.2
Women1 in justice-related occupations
1991
1996
2001
percent
Percentage of women in justice-related occupations2
Police officers
Lawyers and notaries
Judges
Paralegal and related occupations
Probation and parole officers
Correctional service officers
7
27
15
76
50
21
10
31
21
79
47
24
14
35
21
81
54
29
1. Refers to women aged 15 and older.
2. Based on the 1991 Standard Occupational Classification.
Sources: Statistics Canada, Catalogue no. 89-503, 85-225 and Censuses of Population and Housing, 1991, 1996 and 2001.
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Appendix 2
Criminal Code Offences
Homicide
222. (1) A person commits homicide when, directly or
indirectly, by any means, he causes the death
of a human being.
(2) Homicide is culpable or not culpable.
(3) Homicide that is not culpable is not an offence.
(4) Culpable homicide is murder or manslaughter
or infanticide.
(5) A person commits culpable homicide when he
causes the death of a human being,
(a) by means of an unlawful act;
(b) by criminal negligence;
(c) by causing that human being, by threats
or fear of violence or by deception, to do
anything that causes his death; or
(d) by wilfully frightening that human being, in
the case of a child or sick person.
(6) Notwithstanding anything in this section, a
person does not commit homicide within the
meaning of this Act by reason only that he
causes the death of a human being by procuring,
by false evidence, the conviction and death of
that human being by sentence of the law.
Murder in commission of offences
230. Culpable homicide is murder where a person causes
the death of a human being while committing or
attempting to commit ... section 271 (sexual assault),
272 (sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third
party or causing bodily harm), 273 (aggravated
sexual assault), 279 (kidnapping and forcible
confinement), ... whether or not the person means
to cause death to any human being and whether or
not he knows that death is likely to be caused to any
human being, if
(a) The means to cause bodily harm for the
purpose of
(i) facilitating the commission of the offence,
or
(ii) facilitating his flight after committing or
attempting to commit the offence, and
the death ensues from the bodily harm;
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
(b) The administers a stupefying or overpowering
thing for a purpose mentioned in paragraph
(a), and the death ensues therefrom; or
(c) he wilfully stops, by any means, the breath
of a human being for a purpose mentioned
in paragraph (a), and the death ensues
therefrom.
Classification of murder
231. (1) Murder is first-degree murder or second-degree
murder.
(2) Murder is first-degree murder when it is planned
and deliberate.
(3) Without limiting the generality of subsection
(2), murder is planned and deliberate when it is
committed pursuant to an arrangement under
which money or anything of value passes or is
intended to pass from one person to another,
or is promised by one person to another, as
consideration for that other’s causing or assisting
in causing the death of anyone or counselling
another person to do any act causing or assisting
in causing that death ...
(5) Irrespective of whether a murder is planned and
deliberate on the part of any person, murder
is first-degree murder in respect of a person
when the death is caused by that person while
committing or attempting to commit an offence
under one of the following sections: ...
(b) section 271 (sexual assault);
(c) section 272 (sexual assault with a weapon,
threats to a third party or causing bodily
harm);
(d) section 273 (aggravated sexual assault);
(e) section 279 (kidnapping and forcible
confinement); or
(f) section 279.1 (hostage taking).
(6) Irrespective of whether a murder is planned and
deliberate on the part of any person, murder is
first-degree murder when the death is caused
by that person while committing or attempting to
commit an offence under section 264 (criminal
harassment) and the person committing that
offence intended to cause the person murdered
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Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
to fear for the safety of the person murdered
or the safety of anyone known to the person
murdered.
(7) All murder that is not first-degree murder is
second-degree murder.
235. (1) Every one who commits first-degree murder or
second-degree murder is guilty of an indictable
offence and shall be sentenced to imprisonment
for life.
(2) For the purposes of Part XXIII, the sentence of
imprisonment for life prescribed by this section
is a minimum punishment.
Manslaughter
236. Every person who commits manslaughter is guilty
of an indictable offence and liable
(a) where a firearm is used in the commission
of the offence, to imprisonment for life and
to a minimum punishment of imprisonment
for a term of four years; and
(b) in any other case, to imprisonment for life.
Attempted Murder
239. Every person who attempts by any means to commit
murder is guilty of an indictable offence and liable
(a) where a firearm is used in the commission
of the offence, to imprisonment for life and
to a minimum punishment of imprisonment
for a term of four years; and
(b) in any other case, to imprisonment for life.
Criminal Harassment
264. (1) No person shall, without lawful authority and
knowing that another person is [harassed or
recklessly as to whether] the other person is
harassed, engage in conduct referred to in
subsection (2) that causes that other person
reasonably, in all the circumstances, to fear for
their safety or the safety of anyone known to
them.
(2) The conduct mentioned in subsection (1)
consists of
(a) repeatedly following from place to place the
other person or anyone known to them;
(b) repeatedly communicating with, either
directly or indirectly, the other person or
anyone known to them;
(c) besetting or watching the dwelling-house,
or place where the other person, or anyone
known to them, resides, works, carries on
business or happens to be; or
88
(d) engaging in threatening conduct directed
at the other person or any member of their
family.
(3) Every person who contravenes this section is
guilty of
(a) an indictable offence and is liable to
imprisonment for a term not exceeding five
years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary
conviction.
(4) Where a person is convicted of an offence
under this section, the court imposing the
sentence on the person shall consider as an
aggravating factor that, at the time the offence
was committed, the person contravened
(a) the terms or conditions of an order made
pursuant to section 161 or a recognizance
entered into pursuant to section 810, 810.1
or 810.2; or
(b) the terms or conditions of any other order or
recognizance made or entered into under
the common law or a provision of this or any
other Act of Parliament or of a province that
is similar in effect to an order or recognizance
referred to in paragraph (a).
(5) Where the court is satisfied of the existence of an
aggravating factor referred to in subsection (4),
but decides not to give effect to it for sentencing
purposes, the court shall give reasons for its
decision.
Assaults
264.1 (1) Every one commits an offence who, in any
manner, knowingly utters, conveys or causes
any person to receive a threat
(a) to cause death or bodily harm to any
person;
(b) to burn, destroy or damage real or personal
property; or
(c) to kill, poison or injure an animal or bird that
is the property of any person.
(2) Every one who commits an offence under
paragraph (1)(a) is guilty of
(a) an indictable offence and liable to
imprisonment for a term not exceeding five
years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary
conviction and liable to imprisonment for a
term not exceeding eighteen months.
(3) Every one who commits an offence under
paragraph (1)(b) or (c)
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Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to
imprisonment for a term not exceeding two
years; or
(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary
conviction.
265. (1) A person commits an assault when
(a) without the consent of another person,
he applies force intentionally to that other
person, directly or indirectly;
(b) he attempts or threatens, by an act or a
gesture, to apply force to another person,
if he has, or causes that other person to
believe on reasonable grounds that he has,
present ability to effect his purpose; or
(c) while openly wearing or carrying a weapon or
an imitation thereof, he accosts or impedes
another person or begs.
(2) This section applies to all forms of assault,
including sexual assault, sexual assault with a
weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily
harm and aggravated sexual assault.
(3) For the purposes of this section, no consent is
obtained where the complainant submits or does
not resist by reason of
(a) the application of force to the complainant or
to a person other than the complainant;
(b) threats or fear of the application of force to
the complainant or to a person other than
the complainant;
(c) fraud; or
(d) the exercise of authority.
(4) Where an accused alleges that he believed that
the complainant consented to the conduct that
is the subject matter of the charge, a judge, if
satisfied that there is sufficient evidence and
that, if believed by the jury, the evidence would
constitute a defence, shall instruct the jury,
when reviewing all the evidence relating to the
determination of the honesty of the accused’s
belief, to consider the presence or absence of
reasonable grounds for that belief.
266. Every one who commits an assault is guilty of
(a) an indictable offence and is liable to
imprisonment for a term not exceeding five
years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.
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Assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm
267. Every one who, in committing an assault,
(a) carries, uses or threatens to use a weapon
or an imitation thereof, or
(b) causes bodily harm to the complainant, is
guilty of an indictable offence and liable to
imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten
years or an offence punishable on summary
conviction and liable to imprisonment for a
term not exceeding eighteen months.
Aggravated assault
268. (1) Every one commits an aggravated assault who
wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life
of the complainant.
(2) Every one who commits an aggravated assault
is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to
imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen
years.
(3) For greater certainty, in this section, “wounds” or
“maims” includes to excise, infibulate or mutilate,
in whole or in part, the labia majora, labia minora
or clitoris of a person, except where
(a) a surgical procedure is performed, by a
person duly qualified by provincial law to
practice medicine, for the benefit of the
physical health of the person or for the
purpose of that person having normal
reproductive functions or normal sexual
appearance or function; or
(b) the person is at least eighteen years of age
and there is no resulting bodily harm.
(4) For the purposes of this section and section
265, no consent to the excision, infibulation or
mutilation, in whole or in part, of the labia majora,
labia minora or clitoris of a person is valid, except
in the cases described in paragraphs (3) (a) and
(b).
Sexual assault
271. (1) Every one who commits a sexual assault is guilty
of
(a) an indictable offence and is liable to
imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten
years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary
conviction and liable to imprisonment for a
term not exceeding eighteen months.
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Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party
or causing bodily harm
272. (1) Every person commits an offence who, in
committing a sexual assault,
(a) carries, uses or threatens to use a weapon
or an imitation of a weapon;
(b) threatens to cause bodily harm to a person
other than the complainant;
(c) causes bodily harm to the complainant; or
(d) is a party to the offence with any other
person.
(2) Every person who commits an offence under
subsection (1) is guilty of an indictable offence
and liable
(a) where a firearm is used in the commission of
the offence, to imprisonment for a term not
exceeding fourteen years and to a minimum
punishment of imprisonment for a term of
four years; and
(b) in any other case, to imprisonment for a term
not exceeding fourteen years.
Aggravated sexual assault
273. (1) Every one commits an aggravated sexual assault
who, in committing a sexual assault, wounds,
maims, disfigures or endangers the life of the
complainant.
(2) Every person who commits an aggravated
sexual assault is guilty of an indictable offence
and liable
(a) where a firearm is used in the commission
of the offence, to imprisonment for life and
to a minimum punishment of imprisonment
for a term of four years; and
(b) in any other case, to imprisonment for life.
Meaning of “consent”
273.1 (1) Subject to subsection (2) and subsection 265(3),
“consent” means, for the purposes of sections
271, 272 and 273, the voluntary agreement of
the complainant to engage in the sexual activity
in question.
(2) No consent is obtained, for the purposes of
sections 271, 272 and 273, where
(a) the agreement is expressed by the words
or conduct of a person other than the
complainant;
(b) the complainant is incapable of consenting
to the activity;
(c) the accused induces the complainant to
engage in the activity by abusing a position
of trust, power or authority;
90
(d) the complainant expresses, by words or
conduct, a lack of agreement to engage in
the activity; or
(e) the complainant, having consented to
engage in sexual activity, expresses, by
words or conduct, a lack of agreement to
continue to engage in the activity.
(3) Nothing in subsection (2) shall be construed as
limiting the circumstances in which no consent
is obtained.
Where belief in consent not a defence
273.2 It is not a defence to a charge under section 271, 272
or 273 that the accused believed that the complainant
consented to the activity that forms the subject matter
of the charge, where
(a) the accused’s belief arose from the
accused’s
(i) self-induced intoxication, or
(ii) recklessness or wilful blindness; or
(b) the accused did not take reasonable steps,
in the circumstances known to the accused
at the time, to ascertain that the complainant
was consenting.
Spouse may be charged with sexual assault
278. A husband or wife may be charged with an offence
under section 271, 272 or 273 in respect of his or
her spouse, whether or not the spouses were living
together at the time the activity that forms the subject
matter of the charge occurred.
Sexual offences
Consent no defence
150.1 (1) Where an accused is charged with an offence
under section 151 or 152 or subsection 153(1),
160(3) or 173(2) or is charged with an offence
under section 271, 272 or 273 in respect of a
complainant under the age of fourteen years, it
is not a defence that the complainant consented
to the activity that forms the subject matter of the
charge.
(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), where an
accused is charged with an offence under
section 151 or 152, 173(2) or section 271 in
respect of a complainant who is twelve years
of age or more but under the age of fourteen
years, it is not a defence that the complainant
consented to the activity that forms the subjectmatter of the charge unless the accused
(a) is twelve years of age or more but under the
age of sixteen years;
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Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
(b) is less than two years older than the
complainant; and
(c) is neither in a position of trust or authority
towards the complainant nor is a person with
whom the complainant is in a relationship of
dependency.
(3) No person aged twelve or thirteen years shall
be tried for an offence under section 151 or
152 or subsection 173(2) unless the person
is in a position of trust or authority towards
the complainant or is a person with whom the
complainant is in a relationship of dependency.
(4) It is not a defence to a charge under section 151
or 152, subsection 160(3) or 173(2), or section
271, 272 or 273 that the accused believed that
the complainant was fourteen years of age or
more at the time the offence is alleged to have
been committed unless the accused took all
reasonable steps to ascertain the age of the
complainant.
(5) It is not a defence to a charge under section 153,
159, 170, 171 or 172 or subsection 212(2) or (4)
that the accused believed that the complainant
was eighteen years of age or more at the time
the offence is alleged to have been committed
unless the accused took all reasonable steps to
ascertain the age of the complainant.
Sexual interference
151. Every person who, for a sexual purpose, touches,
directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with
an object, any part of the body of a person under the
age of fourteen years is guilty of an indictable offence
and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding
ten years or is guilty of an offence punishable on
summary conviction.
Invitation to sexual touching
152. Every person who, for a sexual purpose, invites,
counsels or incites a person under the age of
fourteen years to touch, directly or indirectly, with
a part of the body or with an object, the body of
any person, including the body of the person who
so invites, counsels or incites and the body of the
person under the age of fourteen years, is guilty of
an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a
term not exceeding ten years or is guilty of an offence
punishable on summary conviction.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Sexual exploitation
153. (1) Every person who is in a position of trust or
authority towards a young person or is a person
with whom the young person is in a relationship
of dependency and who
(a) for a sexual purpose, touches, directly or
indirectly, with a part of the body or with an
object, any part of the body of the young
person, or
(b) for a sexual purpose, invites, counsels or
incites a young person to touch, directly or
indirectly, with a part of the body or with an
object, the body of any person, including the
body of the person who so invites, counsels
or incites and the body of the young person,
is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to
imprisonment for a term not exceeding five
years or is guilty of an offence punishable on
summary conviction.
(2) In this section, “young person” means a person
fourteen years of age or more but under the age
of eighteen years.
Sexual exploitation of person with disability
153.1 (1) Every person who is in a position of trust or
authority towards a person with a mental or
physical disability or who is a person with whom
a person with a mental or physical disability is
in a relationship of dependency and who, for a
sexual purpose, counsels or incites that person
to touch, without that person’s consent, his or
her own body, the body of the person who so
counsels or incites, or the body of any other
person, directly or indirectly, with a part of the
body or with an object, is guilty of
(a) an indictable offence and liable to
imprisonment for a term not exceeding five
years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary
conviction and liable to imprisonment for a
term not exceeding eighteen months.
(2) Subject to subsection (3), “consent” means,
for the purposes of this section, the voluntary
agreement of the complainant to engage in the
sexual activity in question.
(3) No consent is obtained, for the purposes of this
section, if
(a) the agreement is expressed by the words
or conduct of a person other than the
complainant;
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Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
(b) the complainant is incapable of consenting
to the activity;
(c) the accused counsels or incites the
complainant to engage in the activity
by abusing a position of trust, power or
authority;
(d) the complainant expresses, by words or
conduct, a lack of agreement to engage in
the activity; or
(e) the complainant, having consented to
engage in sexual activity, expresses, by
words or conduct, a lack of agreement to
continue to engage in the activity.
(4) Nothing in subsection (3) shall be construed as
limiting the circumstances in which no consent
is obtained.
(5) It is not a defence to a charge under this section
that the accused believed that the complainant
consented to the activity that forms the subject
matter of the charge if
(a) the accused’s belief arose from the
accused’s
(i) self-induced intoxication, or
(ii) recklessness or wilful blindness; or
(b) the accused did not take reasonable steps,
in the circumstances known to the accused
at the time, to ascertain that the complainant
was consenting.
(6) If an accused alleges that he or she believed
that the complainant consented to the conduct
that is the subject matter of the charge, a judge,
if satisfied that there is sufficient evidence and
that, if believed by the jury, the evidence would
constitute a defence, shall instruct the jury,
when reviewing all the evidence relating to the
determination of the honesty of the accused’s
belief, to consider the presence or absence of
reasonable grounds for that belief.
Protecting the personal records of sexual offence
victims (Sections 278.1 - 278.9)
Sections 278.1 to 278.9 of the Criminal Code govern the
production of personal records about victims and witnesses
in sexual offence proceedings. The provisions place the
onus on the accused to establish that the records sought
are likely relevant to an issue at trial and require the trial
judge to carefully scrutinize applications and determine
production in accordance with a two-part process involving
a consideration of both the accused’s rights to full answer
and defence and the victim’s rights to privacy and equality.
The procedure to be followed is also set out in the Code
and includes safeguards for the victim’s privacy including
an in camera (closed) hearing, non-compellability of the
92
victim at the hearing, a publication ban on the proceedings
and the contents of the application, editing of the records
(where ordered to be produced) to delete irrelevant
personal information and the imposition of other appropriate
conditions on production.
Provisions intended to facilitate the participation of
victims and witnesses
In criminal proceedings, while the general rule is that all
proceedings against an accused shall be held in open
court, the Criminal Code sets out exceptions, including
those which are intended to protect the privacy of victims,
for example:
• subsection 486(2) which provides that, for sexual assault
offences, an application may be made for an order
excluding the public;
• subsections 486(3) and 486(4) which provide for an
order prohibiting publication of the identity of sexual
offence victims and certain witnesses;
• subsections 276.2 and 276.3 which provide for the
exclusion of the public and which restrict publication of
proceedings to determine the admissibility of evidence
regarding a sexual assault complainant’s sexual
history;
• subsection 486(1.2) which permits that in sexual offence
proceedings a support person may be present in court
with a witness under the age of 14 years.
Other provisions that are designed to encourage the
reporting of sexual offences include:
• subsection 486(2.1) which permits a sexual offence
complainant who is under the age of 18 years or who
has difficulty communicating, to provide their testimony
from behind a screen or by closed-circuit TV, where the
judge is of the opinion that this is necessary to obtain a
full and candid account.This provision has recently been
expanded to cover prostitution and assault offences;
• subsection 486(2.3) which provides that, in sexual
offence proceedings, generally, a self-represented
accused shall not personally cross-examine a witness
under 14 years of age.
The court may appoint counsel for the accused to conduct
the cross-examination;
• subsection 715.1 which permits, in proceedings relating
to sexual offences, that where the victim or witness
was under the age of 18 at the time of the offence,
a videotape made within a reasonable time after the
offence, describing the acts complained of, is admissible
in evidence, if the victim or witness, while testifying,
adopts the contents of the videotape;
• subsection 715.2 which permits, in proceedings relating
to sexual offences, that where the victim or witness has
difficulty communicating due to a disability, a videotape
made within a reasonable time after the offence,
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Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
•
describing the acts complained of, is admissible in
evidence, if the victim or witness, while testifying, adopts
the contents of the videotape;
subsection 161 permits the court to make an order
prohibiting an offender convicted of a sexual offence
involving a young person (under 14) from attending at
or near certain public places where children may be
present or seeking, obtaining or continuing employment
that involves being in a position of trust or authority
towards a young person;
Threats
264.1 (1) Every one commits an offence who, in any
manner, knowingly utters, conveys or causes
any person to receive a threat
(a) to cause death or bodily harm to any
person;
(b) to burn, destroy or damage real or personal
property; or
(c) to kill, poison or injure an animal or bird that
is the property of any person.
(2) Every one who commits an offence under
paragraph (1)(a) is guilty of
(a) an indictable offence and liable to
imprisonment for a term not exceeding five
years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary
conviction and liable to imprisonment for a
term not exceeding eighteen months.
(3) Every one who commits an offence under
paragraph (1)(b) or (c)
(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to
imprisonment for a term not exceeding two
years; or
(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary
conviction.
(a) where a firearm is used in the commission
of the offence, to imprisonment for life and
to a minimum punishment of imprisonment
for a term of four years; and
(b) in any other case, to imprisonment for life.
(2) Every one who, without lawful authority, confines,
imprisons or forcibly seizes another person is
guilty of
(a) an indictable offence and liable to
imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten
years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary
conviction and liable to imprisonment for a
term not exceeding eighteen months.
(3) In proceedings under this section, the fact that
the person in relation to whom the offence is
alleged to have been committed did not resist
is not a defence unless the accused proves that
the failure to resist was not caused by threats,
duress, force or exhibition of force.
Recognizances (Sections 810-811)
Sections 810 to 810.2 authorize a provincial court judge or
justice of the peace to require an individual to enter into a
recognizance (also known as a “peace bond”) where there
are grounds to believe that the individual will [cause injury
to, or damage to the property of ] another person, will injure
the spouse or child of the other person, will commit a sexual
offence against a child or will commit a serious personal
injury offence. The recognizance can be for a period of up
to 12 months and may contain various conditions such as
non-communication orders or prohibitions on possession
of firearms. Section 811 provides that a breach of a
recognizance results in an indictable offence punishable
by a maximum of five years imprisonment or an offence
punishable on summary conviction.
Kidnapping and forcible confinement
Sentencing
279. (1) Every person commits an offence who kidnaps
a person with intent
(a) to cause the person to be confined or
imprisoned against the person’s will;
(b) to cause the person to be unlawfully sent
or transported out of Canada against the
person’s will; or
(c) to hold the person for ransom or to service
against the person’s will.
(1.1) Every person who commits an offence under
subsection (1) is guilty of an indictable offence
and liable
718.2 A court that imposes a sentence shall also take into
consideration the following
(a) a sentence should be increased or reduced
to account for any relevant aggravating or
mitigating circumstances relating to the
offence or the offender, and, without limiting
the generality of the foregoing,
(i) evidence that the offence was motivated
by bias, prejudice or hate based on
race, national or ethnic origin, language,
colour, religion, sex, age, mental or
physical disability, sexual orientation, or
any other similar factor,
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
93
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
(ii) evidence that the offender, in committing
the offence, abused the offender’s
spouse or common-law partner or child,
(iii) evidence that the offender, in committing
the offence, abused a position of trust or
authority in relation to the victim, or
(iv) evidence that the offence was committed
for the benefit of, at the direction of or in
association with a criminal organization
shall be deemed to be aggravating
circumstances;
(b) a sentence should be similar to sentences imposed on similar offenders for
similar offences committed in similar
circumstances;
94
(c) where consecutive sentences are imposed,
the combined sentence should not be unduly
long or harsh;
(d) an offender should not be deprived of
liberty, if less restrictive sanctions may be
appropriate in the circumstances; and
(e) all available sanctions other than imprisonment
that are reasonable in the circumstances
should be considered for all offenders, with
particular attention to the circumstances of
Aboriginal offenders.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Appendix 3
Provincial/Territorial domestic violence legislation
Province /
Territory
Family violence
legislation
Definition of family
violence in the
legislation
Components
of the legislation
Stage in the
legislative
process
Saskatchewan
Victims of Domestic
Violence Act
Domestic violence is described as
(i) any intentional or reckless act or
omission that causes bodily harm
or damage to property; (ii) any
act or threatened act that causes
a reasonable fear of bodily harm
or damage to property; (iii) forced
confinement; or (iv) sexual abuse.
The purpose was to improve the
immediate and long-term criminal
justice response to the victims of
domestic violence. There are three
components to the Act: emergency
intervention orders, victim
assistance orders, and warrants of
entry.
Proclaimed
February
1995
Prince Edward
Island
Victims of Family
Violence Act
Family violence includes violence
against that person by any other
person with whom that person is, or
has been, in a family relationship;
violence is (a) any assault of the
victim; (b) any reckless act or
omission that causes injury to the
victim or damage to property; (c) any
act or threat that causes a reasonable
fear of injury to the victim or damage
to property; (d) forced confinement
of the victim; (e) actions or threats
of sexual abuse, physical abuse, or
emotional abuse of the victim (Victims
of Family Violence Act)
The purpose of the Act is to protect
the victims of family violence by
improving the criminal justice
response to family violence. There
are two main components of the Act:
emergency protection orders and
victim assistance orders. ¹
Proclaimed
December
1996
Manitoba
The Domestic Violence
and Stalking Act
Domestic violence occurs when a
person is subjected by a cohabitant
of the person to (a) an intentional,
reckless or threatened act or omission
that causes bodily harm or damage
to property: (b) an intentional,
reckless or threatened act or
omission that causes a reasonable
fear of bodily harm or damage to
property; (c) conduct that reasonable,
in all circumstances, constitutes
psychological or emotional abuse;
(d) forced confinement; or (e) sexual
abuse.
The objective of the Act is to provide
quick and simple protection to
victims as well as to prevent further
occurrences of domestice violence
and stalking. The Act has two main
components: protection orders by
designated justices of the peace,
prevention orders by the court of
the Queen’s bench. The Act also
contains the tort of stalking which
allows the victim to sue the stalker
for compensation.
Proclaimed
September
1999
Amended
2005
Alberta
Protection Against
Family Violence Act
Family violence includes (i) any
intentional or reckless act or omission
that causes injury or property damage
and that intimidates or harms a family
member, (ii) any act or threatened act
that intimidates a family member by
creating a reasonable fear of property
damage or injury to a family member,
(iii) forced confinement, (iv) sexual
abuse and stalking.
The purpose of the Act is to
provide protection to victims of
family violence and to improve the
justice system’s response to family
violence.
There are three main components
to the Act: emergency protection
orders, Queen’s Bench protection
orders and other provisions,
including warrant permitting entry.
Proclaimed
June 1999.
Amended
2006.
Received
Royal Assent
March 2006
and comes
into force
November
2006.
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Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Provincial/Territorial domestic violence legislation – continued
Province /
Territory
Family violence
legislation
Yukon Territory
Family Violence
Prevention Act
Definition of family
violence in the
legislation
Family violence includes persons who
have been cohabitants. Family violence
is identified as (a) any intentional or
reckless act or omission that causes
bodily harm or damage to property;
(b) any act or threatened act that
causes a reasonable fear of bodily
harm or of damage to property; (c)
forced confinement; (d) sexual abuse;
or (e) depriving a person of food,
clothing, medical attention, shelter,
transportation, or other necessaries of
life.
Components
of the legislation
Stage in the
legislative
process
The purpose of this Act is to
recognize that family violence is a
serious problem, to improve legal
responses to assist the victims of
family violence, to recognize the
difficulty that victims encounter when
they must leave their home to escape
abuse and to prevent family violence.
There are three main components:
emergency intervention orders,
victim’s assistance order, and warrant
to authorize entering premises.
Proclaimed
November
1999
Recent additions to the Act but still
before the legislature as of November
2005 were increases to the penalties
for second and subsequent charges
for family violence. Other changes
included an amendment to the
definition of Family Violence which
would include psychological and
emotional abuse.
Recent additions to the Act but still
before the legislature as of November
2005 were increases to the penalties
for second and subsequent charges
for family violence. Other changes
included an amendment to the
definition of Family Violence which
would include psychological and
emotional abuse.
Tabled in
the Yukon
legislature
October
2005
The purpose of the legislation is to
improve the immediate and longterm judicial response to victims of
domestic violence.
Proclaimed
April, 2005
There are three components to the
Act:
• emergency protection orders,
• protection orders,
• warrants of entry.
Northwest
Territories
Protection Against
Family Violence Act
Domestic violence is described as
(a) any intentional or reckless act or
omission that causes bodily harm or
damage to property;
(b) an intentional, reckless or threatened
at or omission that: (i) causes the
applicant to fear for his or her safety;(ii)
causes the applicant to fear for the
safety of any child of the applicant
or any child who is in the care of the
applicant, or (iii)causes any child of the
applicant or any child who is in the care
of the applicant to fear for his or her
safety;
(c) sexual abuse
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Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006
Provincial/Territorial domestic violence legislation – concluded
Province /
Territory
Family violence
legislation
Northwest
Territories –
concluded
Definition of family
violence in the
legislation
Components
of the legislation
Stage in the
legislative
process
d) forcible confinement; or
(e) psychological, emotional or
financial abuse that causes harm
or the fear of harm to the applicant,
any child of the applicant of any
child who is in the care of the
applicant.
Newfoundland
and Labrador
Family Violence
Protection Act
Nova Scotia
Domestic Violence
Intervention Act
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 85-570
Domestic violence is (i) an assault
that consists of the intentional
application of force that causes
the victim to fear for his or her
safety, but does not include any act
committed in self-defence; (ii) an
act or omission or threatened act or
omission that causes a reasonable
fear of bodily harm or damage
to property; (iii) forced physical
confinement; (iv) sexual assault,
sexual exploitation or sexual
molestation, or the threat of sexual
assault, sexual exploitation or
sexual molestation or; (v) a series
of acts that collectively causes the
victim to fear for his or her safety,
including following, contacting,
communicating with, observing or
recording any person.
Received
royal assent
December
2005; came
into force
July 2006
97
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